Make no mistake, there is an earnestness with which he pursues his craft.
Precisely why there is no room for surprise when actor Prithviraj says ‘cinema is my life’. Be it exploring characters or producing meaningful cinema, he has been breaking new ground. Indeed, the effort is bearing fruits. In fact Urumi, a historical fantasy film in Malayalam, which he co-produced and acted in, will be opening the Indian Panorama section at IFFI 2011.
With a string of South Indian films behind him, the actor is now set to make a foray into Bollywood. Meanwhile, he traces his growth as an actor, and well so, in a refreshingly candid manner.
It may be hard to pin an image on Prithviraj, but he best describes himself as a director’s actor.
“My performance has a lot to do with what a director gets out of me. I mould myself according to what the director wants. With each director, you get to discover a different you,” he says.
Ever since his entry with Nandanam, he has been sashaying from subtle roles to dramatic and comic ones. In the process, does he get the liberty to improvise? “Actors interpret the character. I bring in what I think is best for the character. And when you have been in this field for some time, the directors value your input,” he says.
On the threshold of a Bollywood career, he talks about what to look forward to. “The film is Aiyya, a quirky love story of a Maharashtrian girl and a Tamil boy, directed by Sachin Kundalkar. I play the Tamil boy while Rani Mukherjee plays the girl. Rani is making an outstanding effort to comprehend the character. She’s so amazingly prepared that it scares you,” he adds.
Bollywood, he feels, is going through a great experimental phase. “Films like Delhi Belly and Dhobi Ghat speak a lot. A decade ago, these would have been brushed off as art films. It is very heartening to find people watching them.”
‘Indian Rupee’, which is his second production in Malayalam, has been receiving rave reviews too.
“It is a social satire and very entertaining. I play the young real estate dealer who is out to make a quick buck,” he informs.
While that film may have sent a message across, does he think films have a social responsibility?
“If there is any message to give, it should be a byproduct. Social responsibility should be unintentional in films. I don’t think the audience like being brought to the theatre and told what to do.”
Films apart, there are other interests as well. “I am not a social animal. I like reading and travelling. Every year, I try to make a trip to the Himalayas. Bike rides,” he specifies.
But success hasn’t come without barbs of criticism. “The idea is to understand whether the criticism you receive is constructive. If not, I don’t pay attention to it. It’s tough when your family is dragged into the so-called public domain. You become a free target,” he says.