“I am as much cosmopolitan as cinema can get” Prithviraj Sukumaran in Conversation with Koimoi
Soft, dainty and extremely cute, that’s Prithviraj Sukumaran for you. Being a household name down South to making a snack-tastic debut with the quirky comedy Aiyyaa, this soon to be 30 year old guy has traveled a long way. With a lot of bravado and gusto within, he stands as a talk, dark and handsome guy, extremely desirable!
From decoding his performance to praising his lovable co star and going the Dream-um Wakeup-um way, Prithvi was all mouth about everything, fulltoo ‘Wakda’ ishtyle!
And I was all ears, only except the times that I went ‘Aiyyaa’!
You were already quite a name to reckon down South before Aiyyaa could happen. So tell us how you actually bagged the offer? Was there any audition?
Well, no! I did not have to go for any audition. In fact, Anurag Kashyap called me and asked me if I can listen to the script. I said ‘yes’ and then the director, Sachin Kundalkar came to me. I was shooting at that point of time and narrated the entire film to me. I like whatever I heard. So I was on for the project.
‘Aiyyaa’ is an otherwise mad, quirky fatakedaar film, but since the trailer release, it has been compared to ‘The Dirty Picture’ time and again. There have been a lot of buzz around, both positive and negative. So what are you expecting?
Well, absolutely, Aiyyaa is completely what you called it to be. Even when we were shooting the film, the kind of buzz that we hoped the film to create, it is exactly that kind of a buzz that the film has created. I would just say that when you make apprehensions about the film being ‘over the top’, you should know its just the promos and the songs. But what the film attempts to do is create a world of its own. Once you relate to that world, everything fits in very easily. So Aiyyaa is probably a step away from reality but when you step into its world, everything starts seeming natural and the way it should be. Plus, it carries a brand of humour that is very original and new. I think, Aiyyaa is obviously the first of its kind in this genre and the content. It is going to create a new kind of aestheticism of how we perceive films. And Aiyyaa was planned almost three-four years back and that time, I don’t think The dirty Picture wasn’t even being talked about. And the talk about these comparisons between Aiyyaa and The Dirty Picture would end the day our film releases.
Playing a South Indian in the film too, do you think it was not much of a challenge for you to slip into the character?
In terms of playing a South Indian, I would say that I play a Tamilian in this film. But I am not a Tamilian, I am a Malayali. To me, it was as changed as a culture as Marathi is. So although, I have done Tamil films, trying to be a Tamilian on screen is as much an effort as being a Marathi or a North Indian on screen. I used to jokingly tell Rani Mukerji that I am as much cosmopolitan as cinema can get; I am a Malayali guy playing a Tamil character in a Hindi film! It was not easy because I was playing a South Indian or difficult because I was playing a Tamilian, it was just doing another film and the character was this. So I was just trying to look convincing in the character’s shoes. That’s it, beyond that, I don’t feel anything matters
You were shuddered with offers from Bollywood. What made you choose Aiyyaa over the other films that you were offered?
The script! I had never heard something as quirky and new like this before. I had decided that when I had to do a debut in the film. I wanted to do something that would prove my mettle as an actor. I don’t see a point in doping films that will have no strength in the plot and eventually will get unnoticed. The moment I heard the script of Aiyyaa, I knew that people will sit down and take notice. From the first promo onwards, people have gone crazy about the film and that is what makes me really happy.
‘Dreamum Wakeupum’ has become the new Bollywood anthem now. How was it to gyrate to the lovely, naughty peppy number?
It was not at all difficult or different for me because I have already done these kinds of dances before in my career.. It’s not the first time that I am doing it. But yes, it was great in the sense that it is one song in the film where we, as in both me and Rani Mukerji do not behave as the characters and we go completely crazy. So what Vaibhavi and we decided to do was go and have fun. It should have come through that we are enjoying whatever move we were doing and that’s what has resulted. All in all, it’s a fantastic song with completely mad, naughty lyrics by Amitabh. And having the best choreographer by your side, the song turned out to be a stupendous one.
Playing co star to one of the finest actresses of Indian cinema today, one who has already carved a niche for herself in the industry, how were your equations with the Rani of our hearts?
She has to be one of my best co-stars. As an actor, she is so inclusive and the way she goes out of her way to make sure that the other actors involved in the film, too are comfortable, that is commendable. Even as a friend, she is so fun to hang out with. Even after the shoots, we used to come to her home, have coffee, discuss what to do next. There were days when she was on the shoot; we used to discuss how we should do a particular scene. Even when she had her days off, she used to drop in for sometime at the shoot, be there with us. Plus she is so dedicated and hardworking. Although she herself is a great dancer, she trained on her body and belly dancing to take the ‘Aga Bai’ song to a different level altogether.
After ‘Aiyyaa’, you have signed on ‘Aurangzeb’ with India’s biggest production house, The Yash Raj family. So how did that happen? You must have been on cloud nice then…
Aurangzeb is the first ever film that I have auditioned for. It was very sweet of Shanoo Sharma, the casting director of the YRF team to call me and ask me to come down. She told me, ‘I know that you are a big name down south. But would you mind to come and audition for the role?’ I quickly assured her that it was not a problem at all. I would love to do it. But it’s a fact that I am doing Aurangzeb today because I gave a really good audition. I am in the film because my audition was the best, not because of who I am or what I am down South. That really gives me a rush. Beyond that, we all are bound by contracts, so I cant really tell you anything about the film.
Doing films down South and Bollywood now, what are the differences between the two industries that caught your eye?
In case of making the film, its all the same. There’s not much of a difference. But it’s just that, in Bombay, you don’t need to work to a deadline; it’s not that you have to release the film on a particular date. Unlike in the South, it’s during the mahurat itself that we announce the release dates too. So you are always working with a bit of pressure. And that’s what sort of makes Bollywood a more leisurely place to work eith. But, that is something that I enjoyed too. This is the way that cinema should be made.
Well, one thing about the film’s shoot that made you go ‘Aiyyaa’!
(Laughs) Aha! Well, then it has to be my birthday celebrations. My birthday, last year supposedly happened to be on a day we were shooting for the film. I remember we were shooting at a really crowded street in Pune. Towards the evening when the shoot was drawing to a close, Rani, Vaibhavi, Sachin and the entire production team got a cake for me and made me cut it in the middle of a crowded street. I did not even know that they were aware of my birthday. And thousands of people were watching it, so that really made me go ‘Aiyyaa’!