'I want to be like Prakash Raj'
Prasanna carved a niche for himself in the Tamil film industry with films such as Five Star, Kanda Naal Mudhal, Achamundu Achamundu, Anjathe, Bana Kathadi and Chennayin Oru Naal.
He recently made his debut in Telugu with the Nagarjuna-Richa starrer Bhai, directed by Virabhadram and produced by Annapoorna Studios.
In this interview, Prasanna shares his experience of doing his first Telugu film and sharing screen space with Nagarjuna.
Bhai is your first film in Telugu and you had a supporting role in it. Was Nagarjuna a factor in agreeing to do the film?
Definitely, yes, Nagarjuna was a major factor. Since the film was produced by Annapoorna Studios (established by Nagarjuna’s father Akkineni Nageswara Rao) it was a good launch pad to take my first step in Telugu cinema.
I have been getting offers from Telugu directors for quite some time but could not do those films because of my Tamil commitments.
I missed Kick. Surendar Reddy (director of Kick) called twice but I could not do his film.
I wanted to go beyond Tamil films. I had watched Virabhadram Chowdhary’s Aha Naa Pellanta. It was a funny film.
'Nagarjuna does not carry his stardom around'
What did you find new about the role of a cop that you played?
More than the cop’s role, it was the relationship between Nagarjuna, his family and me. It was the story of misunderstanding and a long-lost brother who comes back to the family.
I have played a cop in a Tamil film but there was more comedy in that role. In Bhai I did something that I had not done in my Tamil films. I played a serious cop.
How did you and Nagarjuna hit it off?
Nagarjuna was completely down to earth. I had heard a lot about him from my wife Sneha who has acted with him.
She talks about him often and has great respect for him. She insisted I should not miss this film and wanted to see me work in it.
Nagarjuna does not carry his stardom around. He can talk about anything – politics, finances, business, cars, films of course. He is a wonderful co-actor and is very flexible. He’s a star.
I admire the way he has maintained his physique at his age. It’s not easy. He looks ten years younger. He handles so many things – his production house, runs restaurants, etc.
Were the Telugu dialogues easy? Why did you not dub the lines yourself?
I did not have many dialogues in the film. Whatever was there was easy. Sneha helped me a lot and I learnt from her.
I wanted to dub for the film but my Tamil commitments kept me busy. I was shooting in Kerala at that time. I feel bad I could not dub for the film.
'I want to be a pan-Indian actor'
Was it different working in the Telugu industry as compared to Tamil?
Definitely. I felt people take a lot of time in Telugu. In Tamil people rush.
Maybe in Telugu because of the budget comfort, they take a lot of time, they concentrate on so many things and don’t rush and also don’t compromise.
How was it working in your first Telugu film?
I have done some 18-19 films in Tamil as hero and negative roles in some too. In Telugu, I realised how good it is to be a hero. Everything revolves around the hero.
I felt the goodness of being the hero. Other characters are etched around the hero. I felt the importance of the hero.
It was fun doing Bhai. The cameraman Sameer Reddy was spontaneous and energetic. He would try to make even a normal scene look visually interesting.
The director Veerabhadram was very friendly. He would try to improve his Tamil with me and I would try to learn Telugu from him! So it was a mutually beneficial experience.
Do you feel by doing a Telugu film you can expand your reach and base?
I want to be a pan-Indian actor. I took my first step in Telugu after 11 years. I want to spread my wings in Telugu and other languages.
Prakash Raj is my all-time favourite. He is versatile in every language – Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Hindi. I want to be like him – perfect in what I do.
'I would like to be a part of the Telugu industry'
Will you do more Telugu films? If so, what kind of roles would you want to do?
Given a good chance, I would like to be a part of the Telugu industry.
I am not specific about the roles that I want to do. I would like to do roles that would make me a prominent actor. I am up for challenges and will do my best with whatever I take up.
Have you signed any other Telugu film?
I was offered a couple of films. I will wait for a good film.
Are you happy doing your first Telugu film?
Definitely. It has been a wonderful and fantastic experience to cherish. I will remember this first Telugu film for a long time.