He is a doyen of the South Indian film industry having worked in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada cinema. In his own words, his innings in Bollywood has only just begun. He is none other than actor par excellence Prakash Raj. As the baddie ‘Jaykant Shikre’ in the super-hit Singham, Prakash has some of the most solid lines and complements Ajay Devgn, the lead hero, in each and every frame. The masses seem to be going crazy every time he says “Aata Majhi Satakli Re” and his dialogues are greeted with ceetis and taalis especially at the single screens. Bollywood Hungama‘s Nikhil Ramsubramaniam got in touch with Prakash Raj who squeezed out time from his busy shooting schedule in Hyderabad for this one-of-a-kind exclusive interview. Read onâ€¦
You seem to have been getting a lot of accolades for your portrayal of the villain Jaykant Shikre in Singhamâ€¦how is the feeling?
I am really happy. People have loved the film. We were all confident that we have a good product in hand and when the film is now reaping such rich dividends, it’s indeed a joyous feeling. I am happy for the whole team which worked on Singham.
You even played the villain in the Tamil version how different was it playing Jaykant Shikre?
They are 2 different roles altogether which required 2 different body languages and addressed 2 different issues. Rohit and his team of writers changed the script quite a lot from the original and made my character more hilarious. It was both challenging and interesting for me.
The scenes between your character and Ajay Devgn are among the highlights of the film, how was it working with Ajay?
Ajay is a brilliant actor and when you act alongside a good actor, your performance also goes up by a few notches. People have loved our chemistry on screen. He was confident of his part and so was I and it has been a wonderful experience working with Ajay.
Actors from the South are usually uncomfortable speaking in Hindi but you seem to have done a good job even speaking Marathiâ€¦how did you manage that so well?
I always believe it is important for an actor to get the diction and language right. You may not know the language fluently but you need to make an effort to get it right because then it shows that you respect the language in which the film is being made. I am from Bengaluru but I speak Tamil as if it’s my mother tongue. The audiences love you when you talk to them in their language with good diction and good intensity. I had foreseen this earlier so I worked on the language.
How was it working with Rohit Shetty?
Brilliant! Nobody who has ever worked with Rohit would say that it’s difficult to work with him. What I like about Rohit, besides the comfort zone he gives to his actors, is his clarity. He is very clear with what he wants from you as an actor and it’s wonderful to work with filmmakers who have such amazing clarity. He knows his actors’ strengths and weaknesses.
Before Singham, you were seen playing the baddie in Bbuddahâ€¦Hoga Terra Baap opposite Amitabh Bachchan. How was it sharing screen space with the legend?
Wonderful! I have been very lucky with all these 3 films of mine be it Wanted, Bbuddah or Singham. I have worked with wonderful people be it Salman bhai or Amitji or Ajay and there has been a really great comfort zone. They are huge stars but lovely human beings who mind their own business and welcome talent with open arms.
Be it in Wanted, Bbuddah, or Singham you played the villain who plays to the gallery- loud, over the top and a bit comical. Though the masses seem to love it, don’t you think its getting a bit repetitive now?
Seeâ€¦you have to be very clear what the intention of such films is. The films which you mentioned are for sheer entertainment for the masses and if they love it, I will do it a 100 times again. If it is a film like Kanchivaram (for which I won the National award) I won’t play to the gallery. Every film has a premise and an intention for which it is made and if your director wants you to perform in a certain way, you have to do it. At the end of the day, you are not bigger than the film.
Down South, you play a variety of characters but why is it that you have mostly stuck to playing negative roles in Bollywood?
Even though I have done a few small roles earlier in Bollywood, I feel that my innings in Bollywood has just begun with Wanted. I have done 3 films in the last 3 years and still have a long way to go.
In the 80s and 90s the villain was an important part of almost all Hindi films, but nowadays with comedies and love stories ruling the roost, very few films have a strong villain, what do you have to say to that?
See with films like Singham, Dabangg, Wanted etc. the genre of masala films where you have a hero and villain clashing is returning backâ€¦you can’t expect to have a villain in films like Delhi Belly, Dil Chahta Hai or Taare Zameen Par. If you see right now, different kinds of films are doing well be it a Delhi Belly or a Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara or even a masala entertainer like Singham. So these are definitely exciting times for all of us.
Who has been your favourite villain of Bollywood?
My all time favourites are Amrish Puriji and Danny…They were simply mind blowing for what they were on screen and what they were off screen. I love their personality.
You started a fresh beginning to life last year with marriage to ace choreographer Pony Verma, how has been that experience?
You also are a producer and turned director last year with a Kannada film, how do you successfully manage to juggle the three roles?
I just do what I want to do. I don’t plan these things. I directed a Kannada film last year and am now directing a bi-lingual film in Tamil and Telugu which should start in September-October this year.
Any plans to produce / direct a film in Hindi?
Why not? You never say neverâ€¦If I get an exciting story idea, I’d surely like to direct in Hindi as well. I keep doing a lot of things. Don’t trust me to just be in one place.
Finally, what are your forthcoming films in Bollywood?
As far as Bollywood is concerned, I am waiting for some good offers post Singham. I haven’t found anything exciting yet. Fingers crossed!!