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Direction is giving me a lot of joy: Prakash Raj

Written By Indiagreat .in on Saturday, 1 October 2016 | 10:47:00

Prakash Raj on his poor BO record as a director, pitting his film against four other films for Dasara, developmental activities in Kondareddypally, remaking ‘Ulavacharu Biryani’ and children 

‘Manavoori Ramayanam’ is Prakash Raj’s third effort as a director in Telugu after ‘Dhoni’ and ‘Ulavacharu Biryani’. Although he finds a hitherto unfathomable joy in narrating stories on screen, he clarifies that acting has not exactly taken a backseat.

“Having got into a comfort zone as an actor, I probably wanted to reinvent myself and get a new identity. I’ve just finished ‘Tadka’ (remake of ‘Ulavacharu Biryani’) while ‘60 Ellu Chamanachaya’ is around the corner. Direction is giving me a deep-rooted joy that is helping me see life from a different perspective,” he muses in an exclusive conversation with The Hans India.

On when he decides to go behind the camera, he informs that a bit of excitement will be the clincher. In the case of ‘Manavoori Ramayanam’, it was a Malayalam film ‘Shutter’. “I’ve gave a complete new spin to the Malayalam thriller. Also, I’ve set the film during Sri Rama Navami period whilst the original had a different setting.”

‘Dhoni’ and ‘Ulavacharu Biryani’ haven’t exactly set the box-office coffers ringing big time but that’s the last thing on the polyglot’s mind. “I was bemused when someone pointed out that I had to keep the pulse of the audience in mind before making a film. If I’m not going to make a hit, it doesn’t matter. I’m not catering to the audience; I’m just telling a story. If the audience does not like it, it implies that I erred somewhere.

That wake-up call will motivate me to fine-tune further so that I can deliver a qualitatively intense product next time around,” he shrugs, admitting that his directorials indeed failed to reach a large section of film-goers but did managed to capture the attention of TV audience.

“Take for instance, ’Dhoni’. I still get compliments from many parents. So, I made my mark. And as far as money is concerned, I’m intelligent enough not to gamble heavily when the returns are not reassuring. I understand that I’m not a star to get big openings and so I plan accordingly.” But is it a good idea to have a Dasara release given the spate of other films– ‘Premam,’ ‘Edu Gole Ehe,’ ‘Abhinetri’ and ‘Jaguar’– that are lined up for the festival?

“Manavoori Ramayanam is the right film for Dasara and I’ve announced the release date a month ago. Its festive time and people will watch multiple films. I will ask them to watch mine too. Moreover, there are no big releases around that time. Had Ram Charan was in the fray with ‘Dhruva,’ I would have deferred my plans since his film gets majority of screens. Otherwise, I have no issues with the existing competition. I’m sure people will watch my film,” he smiles.

In ‘Manavoori Ramayanam,’ the actor plays Bhujangayya, a Dubai returnee, who is the president of Sri Rama Seva Samithi of his village. “He is well-respected but is a male chauvinist. What happens when he gets into a complex situation? Then there is Prudhvi, who has directed a film, a decade ago and visits Bhujangayya’s village for a film shoot.

The film stars one of the actors who had featured in his still-in-labs film. He wants to narrate a story to the actor and wants to see his name as a director hell-bent. But he too gets caught in a situation. Satya (‘Jyothilakshmi’ fame) is an auto-rickshaw driver who looks up to Bhujangayya. He wants to emulate his idol by earning a fast-buck in Dubai. Then there is the nameless woman (Priyamani) who visits the village and who is like a river. How these three characters change by the river is what the film is all about,” he reveals.

Giving facelift to Kondareddypally Prakash, who adopted Kondareddypally village (of Mahabubnagar district) not long ago, has managed to give it a facelift by laying roads, coming up with a dump yard, building a school with government’s aid among other developmental activities. Is he satisfied with what he has done?

“There is nothing called satisfaction but it has been a satisfying experience. It’s a process. I haven’t adopted the village for the heck of it; I’m doing it because it’s my responsibility. I was disturbed to see the way the village was when I was travelling to my farm. I’m acting as the facilitator between the villagers and the government. I’ve always believed that if you are wealthy, you should help the poor and needy. It is our collective responsibility as a human race,” he asserts, pointing out that it’s not rosy as it appears.

“They’ve been betrayed for years. You have to give them the confidence, guide them and ask them to change. They don’t have the belief. Initially they were like, ‘Ehe avvadandi’ (It will not happen). But you have to assure them that it will happen because you are willing to share their burden. You have to prove that you are one among them.

They are not beggars. All they need is some moral and financial support so that can stand on their legs and earn respectability in course of time.” He admits that he is almost there realising the dream of a model village. “I aspire to adopt a village in every State. I wish to leave such a legacy that even after I pass away, the Prakash Raj Foundation will continue the good work.”

Remaking ‘Ulavacharu Biryani’ 
After he is done with the promotions of ‘Manavoori Ramayanam,’ the actor will shift focus to the post-production of ‘Tadka,’ a romantic story between two individuals, who accidentally get to know each other through their craving for food.  It stars Nana Patekar, Shriya Saran, Taapsee Pannu and Ali Fazal in the lead roles. On what prompted him to direct a story which he already directed thrice (in Telugu, Tamil and Kannada), he reasons, “The Hindi version is a totally different script and since I’ve not acted in the film, I saw a complete different film, altogether.

Also, I got more freedom with the Hindi version. For the Telugu version, Sneha couldn’t say a line ‘there is something more than sex in my life’ when asked ‘when was the last time you made love?’ She had her apprehensions keeping in mind her image and I had no issues with it. With the Hindi version, I’ve done what I wanted to.”

So, did he bond with Nana, a self-confessed foodie? Prakash admits that they cooked together but since he was busy cooking the script, he couldn’t devote as much time as Nana did. “He is an amazing cook and I should salute his patience.”

Doting dad    
A father of three, Prakash Raj insists that his newborn Vedanth has made him younger. “He is seven months old and loves his dad. Whenever I’m home, I take him in my arms and he knows that my next step would be to take him out in the open, which he loves. I must see him every three days. He comes to shoots too.

I always wanted to have a child at a late age. I feel obliged. I don’t mind having another,” he laughs, adding that his daughters too visit him often. “The elder one is studying Fine Arts in London while the younger one studies in Chennai. The latter visits us on weekends and loves pampering Vedanth.”


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