October 4, 2008

My Surname is Controversy

By P Sangeetha

Prakash Raj is one actor who has a commanding screen presence. While actors of his age are making desperate efforts to cast themselves as mass heroes, Prakash is content playing character roles to perfection.

The thinking actor is currently busy with the promotion of his latest flick Abhiyum Naanum, a family drama that talks about the relationship of a father with his daughter.

"Every woman, be it your friend, wife, lover or mother is someone's daughter and every father should let his daughter live her life after a certain point of time. That is the point that we are trying to make through the film. I am proud that I have done the movie," he beams.

When Radha Mohan and Prakash came together for Mozhi last time, it created a stir in the box office. What is the chemistry between the two?

"Our relationship has grown by leaps and bounds from Azhagiya Theeye days and we cherish our association."

What does Prakash have to say about the grapevine that the unit had approached Khushboo and Lakshmi Gopalaswamy for Aishwaryaa's role? "In fact, we approached many others for the character in the film. But that is the way a film works. You do not sign up artistes just like that."

Prakash Raj plays Trisha's father in Abhiyum Naanum. Is it not complex to play a father after starring with the same actress as her lover and brother? "I don't want to get caught in an image trap. Even the audience has come to accept the fact. Abhiyum Naanum is a great story on the father-daughter relationship and I think Trisha and I have done a good job."

Prakash Raj made his debut under the legendary K Balachander and has also worked with the stalwarts of Tamil film industry, Mani Ratnam, Shankar and Kamal Haasan, to name a few. How does the actor feel about it? "It has been a wonderful experience. They have been in the industry before my arrival. I consider Balachander sir as my mentor as he was the one who identified the actor in me. He believed that I could do a good job and gave me the confidence to accomplish things."

Prakash Raj is a versatile actor who can essay any role with complete ease. How does he prepare himself for each role? "Every film is an experience. I come with an open mind to the sets and let the script guide me. I personally believe that actors should be like a chameleon adapting itself to different roles. My theatre background, books and my mentors have also played a vital role in achieving this feat."

Much praise came the actor's way for his latest venture Kanchivaram. What is so special about the film? "Set in the pre- independence era, Kanchivaram is a story of a humble silk weaver. The film was premiered at the latest Toronto International Film Festival. It was a challenging role and one of the best films in my career. Kanchivaram will also be screened at Palm Springs and the Dubai Film Festival and many others."

The actor has frequently come under the scanner of the Movie Artistes' Association and has been banned from the Telugu industry six times. So, how does the actor handle the thick cloud of controversies surrounding him? "My surname is controversy. We live in a society that is very judgmental in its views. That is the reason that I have drawn a clear line between my private and public affairs.

I think controversies have now become a part of my life. As far as the ban is concerned, it has been lifted and I am not bothered about it."

Prakash Raj is one of the busiest actors in the industry and it is no surprise if his acting prowess is catching the attention of filmmakers all over the country. Ask about his forthcoming ventures and the list is endless. "I am producing two movies Mayilu and Inidhu Inidhu. Mayilu is a rustic village story that talks about the impact of superstition. Jeevan is directing the film and Ilayaraja has scored the music. Inidhu Inidhu is a remake of the Telugu blockbuster Happy Days. It is a youthful entertainer with a completely new star cast. We auditioned around 1000 faces for the film and imparted special training to the artistes. My other forthcoming projects include Villu with Vijay, Telugu film Kotha Bangaralu with Siddharth and a Hindi film with Salman Khan. I am also planning to do the Hindi version of Mozhi."

What does Prakash attribute his success to? "I think I am just lucky. I don't set any goals. I live every moment and take life as it comes," he concludes with a smile.

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