Prashanth comes of age
The actor is high on the success of Thamizh.
Prasanth's Tamil New Year release Thamizh took people by surprise.
People got to see Prasanth, the mature young man, instead of the romantic hero. The masses loved him; Thamizh was a runaway success.
Friendly, pleasant and down-to-earth, Prasanth is one of the few Tamil stars who is easily accessible. Not only is he net savvy, he also spends most of his free time chatting with his fans (firstname.lastname@example.org) and replying to their e-mails.
That is when he is not working out in the gym, riding a horse or playing golf, tennis, table tennis or roller skating, discovers Shobha Warrier:
Did you expect Thamizh to elicit such a good response from the public?
Yes. The first time I heard the story, I knew it would click. It had what would interest everybody. Sometimes when you watch a movie, you tend to forget it is a movie. In the case of Thamizh, I felt people would feel the same. I knew it would be a success.
More than that, we worked on the script for over a year. A lot of hard work has gone into the making of the film. The entire script was ready before we started shooting; that rarely happens in the Indian film industry. Since Hari is a new director, we spent a lot of time together discussing the script and the film.
It is a nice feeling when people appreciate your work.
What kind of preparation went into your role?
I like to think I am a spontaneous actor. I relate to the situation, visualise myself in that position and react. I think preparation kills spontaneity.
For Thamizh, I needed to become two different characters: a very energetic, innocent youth and a man who is forced into a tragic situation he never anticipated. This transition had to be felt.
So I did some preparation for the role. It has paid dividends. Now, people say, "It's a good performance. We never knew he could perform like this!"
You have been in this industry for over a decade. Were you surprised by the reaction?
They said the same thing when my first movie came out. And when I did Kalloori Vasal. That is what they said for any good movie of mine. *laughs*
For the last four years, I have been doing films lacking in emotion. I wanted people to relate to my movies. After all, they spend a lot of money to watch a film. That's when Thamizh happened.
You said you and your director worked on the script for a year. Did the planning contribute to the fact that Thamizh is a hit?
I don't know. I met with an accident while shooting for Majnu. I still did a schedule but the film was not a hit.
After that, I had to undergo major surgery. As soon as I got out, I had to do all the action sequences of Thamizh. I did it all when the wound was raw. There were days I couldn't bear the pain. I continued working.
Today it has paid off.
I do all that I can and leave the rest to God. I wanted to be a doctor. There I was, waiting for my medical entrance results. And around 25 film offers came my way. I accepted one. Now, acting is my profession.
People say Prashanth has been reborn with Thamizh.
Please! I was not dead to be born again. It was a different portrayal and one with an improvement, not rebirth. They have never seen me in a mature role before. That is why they talk like this. I consider Thamizh my best performance.
Thamizh is about a young fellow who wants to do something in life. Circumstances change all that to such an extent that he changes into someone he wouldn't have dreamt of. It could happen to anyone. It's a hit because people relate to the story.
Thamizh reminds you of a Malayalam film called Kireedam, starring Mohanlal.
Yes, the inspiration for Thamizh came from Kireedam.
Mohanalal won his first National Award, the Special Commendation for Kireedam.
I didn't know that! That is news to me. Let's hope [I win one too] *laughs*
Thamizh was not publicised at all. Do you feel good publicity would have fetched a good initial?
I do accept that publicity was poor. It was unfortunate. Now, I feel it helped. Because the film was not hyped, there was no expectation. Now, people are going to see the movie because it is recommended by word-of-mouth.
Among the Tamil New Year releases, two films had almost similar names. Yours is Thamizh and Vijays film is titled Thamizhan. Don't you think it confuses people?
Yes, I do feel that. I had a talk with Vijay. I knew it would affect both of us but there was no way he could change the release date. I left it to God.
Can actors who compete against each other be good friends?
We do share a working relationship. But we can't say that we share real friendship. If you ask me, I have no qualms about having my contemporaries or competitors as friends. That's because I am very relaxed about my work.
Photographs: Sreeram Selvaraj