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one step at a time

The bend-it-any-way dancer Prabhudeva has recently turned director. CHITRA SWAMINATHAN catches up with him


These days Prabhudeva is calling the shots. The `bend-it-any-way' dancer has turned a director with the Telugu film, "Nu Ostavante Na Odduntana."(If you come, will I say no?).

As an entertainer he's constantly reinventing himself. But far from filmi pretensions, the refreshingly honest Prabhudeva has no qualms about admitting that he is nervous about wielding the megaphone. "Thankfully life is all about opportunities and here is another chance for me to prove myself," he quips. "I always wanted to move from co-ordinating steps to handling scripts. And when it has finally happened, I don't want to take any chances," says a reticent Prabhudeva. It's rather difficult to get him to talk about anything other than his dream directorial debut. He continues, "My career has now got a perfect `angle' and there's so much `action' in life (he's even got the jargon)."

The wonder dancer also provides you with information like _ the film is being produced by M.S. Raju whose earlier two projects "Okkadu" and "Varsham" set the cash registers across Andhra Pradesh ringing. It's a musical love story starring Trisha and Siddharth. There's not much of the usual bumpand- grind. The songs have been creatively choreographed. And that he is taking off on a 15-day location-hunting overseas tour. Prabhudeva doesn't have a poster-pup face. Instead he looks as if he doesn't bother too much about his appearance. Yet his has been a `step-bystep' success story _ an electrifying dancer (remember "Chikku bukku raile"), to a celebrated choreographer (won the National Award for "Minsaru Kanavu" number with Kajol), to an easy-going actor (with a flair for comedy and has co-starred with Kamal Hassan), and now direction.

"You know the legendary Guru Dutt is supposed to have started as a dance assistant," he smiles.

Try underlining his achievements and you get terse responses. But he is surely not a shirker.

"Since my early days when I joined my dance master-father I am used to playing multiple roles on sets. Not just dance direction, I would also look into lighting, costumes and make-up. I may not be a new-age go-getter, but I believe in the time-tested mantra `hard way up the ladder'."

In a down-to-earth manner, he adds, "For an ordinary Santhome school boy like me, to be hugged by pop icon Michael Jackson was unimaginable."

Though rhythm runs in the family and his father made his entry easy, Prabhudeva made it to stardom by putting his best foot forward.

Quiz him about this and he says, "Choreography is not about speed, complex steps and raunchy gyrations. You need to capture the mood and emote.

Not just songs, even scenes can be choreographed. Its nice to see many youngsters now taking it up and the directors readily giving them a chance."

He has consciously avoided developing a `Prabhudeva style.'

"There is no method. It has to be spontaneous. I just approach a song the way I like. Sometimes it has failed to click. For instance, "One Two three," starring my two brothers and myself, bombed at the box-office. That's ok. We should be prepared to accept the consequences of our decisions."

He has directed a song for Hrithik Roshan in Farhan Akhtar's much-awaited multi-crore "Lakshya."

"I have got positive feedback from the film's team but I am waiting for the audience's reaction."

Wonder why he has not been doing more work in Bollywood? "I have been extremely choosy. Taking up only projects that interest me. Because I don't want to get stale."

Even before you can ask what next, he hastens to add, "For now it's only me, camera and lights. One step at a time."

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