Prakash Raj on encouraging new directors, his break from cinema, upcoming films
After a break of almost five months, multi-lingual actor Prakash Raj, who is busy shooting for his Kannada, Tamil and Telugu films, is also engaged in promoting ‘Photo’- a 97-minute Kannada film by a debutant director Utsav Gonvar, which secured the third best Kannada film award at the 14th edition of Bengaluru International Film Festival.
In Bengaluru to shoot his portion of Kannada film ‘Yuva’, directed by Santosh Anandram, Prakash Raj exclusively spoke to The Federal.
Read in Kannada: ಅಲ್ಪ ವಿರಾಮದ ನಂತರ ಮತ್ತೆ ಸಿನಿಮಾದತ್ತ ಪ್ರಕಾಶ್ ರಾಜ್
Talking about what triggered his interest in ‘Photo’- a Kannada film made by a debutant filmmaker, Prakash Raj said, “Last year, the filmmaker Utsav Gonvar called and asked me to watch his film ‘Photo’. My friends had also spoken highly of this film. But, because of my busy schedule I could not watch it. When I was busy involved in developing my incubator theatre, Nirdiganta, Utsav approached me again. I arranged a show of the film in Nirdiganta, and many filmmakers including Kavitha Lankesh also watched it along with me. The first question that popped up after watching the film is: ‘why didn’t I see this film earlier?’ I decided that it has to go across the globe and I have taken the initiative to promote the film through Nirdiganta.”
Significantly, the film ‘Photo’ captures the migrant exodus from cities to their hometowns on account of unplanned lockdown imposed in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic by the Union government. To tell a story of despair, Utsav has used an uncommon thread. He narrates the story through the eyes of a boy, whose dream is to get his photograph clicked in front of the Vidhana Soudha in Bengaluru – the seat of political power. Inspiration for Gonwar to make ‘Photo’ is an article he had read in a Kannada daily about a migrant worker’s difficulties during the lockdown because of the pandemic.
Besides appealing to his friends in cinema to promote ‘Photo’, Prakash Raj, resolved to support the dreamy young filmmaker. “Even Vetrimaaran and others have promised to support me in the endeavour,” claimed Prakash.
Prakash Raj’s upcoming projects
Besides ‘Yuva’ for which he is in Bengaluru, the actor who essayed the role of Sundara Chozhar in ‘Ponniyan Selvan-2’, is presently working in a Kannada film with Prakash M – the director of commercial potboiler ‘Tarak’. He is also doing two more films in Kannada and one is with Dolly Dhananjaya.
Prakash Raj is also working on a Telugu film with Pawan Kalyan and a Tamil film with Dhanush. “In ‘Viduthalai Part-one’ directed by Vetrimaaran, I shared the screen with Vijay Sethupathi. Now I am playing a prominent role in its sequel. Gautam Menon called the other day and informed me; ‘sir your role is growing by the day’. I am really excited about it,” he explained.
The versatile actor is equally excited about two other projects which he is presently working on as well. One is ‘Cheeku’- a coming of age story and another, a French film on the Sri Lanka crisis.
“The web series ‘Cheeku’ helmed by Rajesh Mapuskar is about a 24-year old young man struggling to come to terms with the cultural dichotomy of his life. The story is unconventional, yet relatable and rooted. I am essaying a pivotal role in this film,” said Prakash Raj.
Elaborating on the French project, he said, “When some Tamil speaking youngsters from France, who have their roots in the Jaffna part of Sri Lanka, narrated the story, I liked the idea. I am interested in telling visual stories on Sri Lankan Tamils. Earlier I essayed the role of Herold Vikramasinghe in Mani Rathnam’s ‘Kannathil Muthamittal’. Despite being in Paris, these few youngsters have not lost their touch with Jaffna. They are viewing the Sri Lankan crisis from the eyes of the new generation.”
Break from cinema
Explaining the reason for taking a four-month long break from cinema, Prakash Raj said, “I took a break of four to five months from shooting films, as I was busy giving final touches to my dream Incubator Theatre project, which has come up near Srirangapatna. At the same time, I also spent some time in my farm, where I am cultivating areca among other crops. Now satisfied that things are in order, I returned to cinema.”
When asked if he returned to theatre because he is disappointed with cinema, Prakash Raj retorted: “It is not anything personal. I am not disappointed or displeased with cinema. I am enjoying every moment. I do whichever character comes my way with all earnestness. How can cinema disappoint me, which has given me everything I want?” he asked caustically.