Malayalam actor Prithviraj Sukumaran, who made his acting debut at the age of 19 with 2002 film “Nandanam”, says it took him four to five films to enjoy the process of acting and take his career seriously.
As a youngster, he wasn’t sure if acting was his true calling.
“I did my first film thinking I’d go back to do what I was doing. I remember sending an email and requesting for an extension of my holiday when I was supposed to start my second film. Frankly, I did not enjoy the process of acting in the first few films,” Prithviraj told IANS here, adding the breakthrough happened after starring in five films.
“It took me four to five films to appreciate what I was doing and develop the desire to learn acting,” he said.
A decade and a half later with nearly 100 films to his credit, mostly in Malayalam, Prithviraj is an established star, and he’s now keen on being part of “films that aren’t forgotten”.
In retrospection, he said: “I was always dealing with cinema that was more evolved than I am as an actor at any given point of time. I don’t think a lot of youngsters or even my contemporaries had such opportunities.”
“I did ‘Stop Violence’ when I was 19, and when I look back I’m sure I couldn’t comprehend the character. I was just a youngster brought up in a well-to-do household and didn’t know anything about goondaism. I was 21 when I played a 55-year-old writer in ‘Akale’,” he said, admitting playing such characters at the very beginning of his career contributed to the process of refinement.
How does one keep motivated in an industry this long’
“I’m not going to lie and say that every film and every shot is new to me because most of the times you do a shot and you realise it’s another version of some other shot, especially when you’ve been acting for this long,” he explained.
In order to grow and keep oneself motivated, Prithviraj believes an actor should find himself in uncomfortable spots.
“It’s when, figuratively and literally, you fall into a rut and you get comfortable doing what you’ve always done, there’s no source of motivation,” he added.
Asked if stardom has not come in the way of his growth, he said: “You need to know what’s your stardom based on and only then will you realise if it’s a burden or not. As long as your stardom is not based on something you have to live up to, then it doesn’t become a burden. There was a phase when people led me to believe my stardom is based on action cinema and that affected my career. Thankfully, that phase didn’t last long.”
Is that why he’s constantly reinventing’
“It’s completely based on the kind of cinema that comes to me. Out of the blue, I get something nobody has been offered before,” he said.
“In between ‘Ivide’ and ‘Pavada’, films that were poles apart, there was a ‘Double Barrel’, ‘Ennu Ninte Moideen’, ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’ and ‘Anarkali’. When written on paper and told to someone that the same actor is going to play all these characters, it would seem impossible. It’s not my effort to reinvent but different filmmakers saw these characters in me and that way I consider myself blessed,” he added.
Prithviraj is also a successful producer, and under the banner of August Cinema he has produced films such as “Urumi”, “Indian Rupee” and “Anuraga Karikkin Vellam” among others.
As a producer, his motive is not to make money.
“I make money from acting and Malayalam industry pays me handsomely. I don’t want my production house to be money-making machinery but I don’t want to lose money either. I can very vociferously tell you that whatever money August Cinema has made so far has been invested back in cinema,” he said.
(Haricharan Pudipeddi can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
By Haricharan Pudipeddi