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Artistic duo

Prakash Raj and Prasanna: great chemistry on screen


THE MAN arrived at Madras Central many years ago with just Rs. 140 in his pocket.

With a firm base in theatre and some not-so great Kannada films to his credit, what he wanted was that elusive break in Tamil. Veteran director K. Balachander, known to weave his magic wand on newcomers took Prakash Rai (later changed to Raj) into his fold. And, introduced him to the world as the dignified Guru Rangan in his teleserial Kaialavu Manasu. The film Duet soon followed and there was no stopping Prakash Raj's ascent in filmdom.

Now, the actor is giving newcomers the much-needed breaks like his mentor gave him so many years ago.

How does he manage to bring in that kind of intensity and energy into every role he portrays?

"I am basically an intense person. And, I am charged about what I do," says Prakash along with "Azhagiya Theeye" co-star Prasanna in an interview.

The actor-producer admits making films is a costly hobby yet wants to make the kind of films he enjoys such as his recently released "Azhagiya Theeye".

Versatility matters

One thing that everyone notices about him is his choice of roles. Even if he plays the villain in ten movies, he manages to lend each one a different look. How has be managed to achieve that, given the range of roles he has essayed so far?

"Oh! I love to surrender. I trust the director and the script. If they ask me to play the hero, I'll do that. If they want me to play Sneha's father in Vasoolraja MBBS, I'll do that too."

Is he looking at producing more movies? "Yes! I even have a script in hand," he says.

Camaraderie with co-stars

One thing that strikes you while interacting with the actor is the ease with which he communicates with newcomers.

"Pasangala vaanga, he calls out to the other artistes. And, the bonhomie is apparent. "It was like being back in college," says Prasanna, who plays the protagonist in "Azhagiya Theeye".

"I was nervous before working with Prakash Raj. I had about four scenes with him and I knew I had to do really well. He encourages you a lot," he says.

True to life

Prasanna, who was launched in Five Star, says both his first film and Azhagiya Theeye are close to his heart.

"I needed a commercial hit and these films paved the way," he explains.

That apart, the characters he played in both films [an engineering graduate and a wannabe director] were close to what he is in real life [an above-average engineering student, he dropped out in the second year after joining films. And, he struggled to make his mark in movies].

"This film helped me get over my frustration. The response has been great and I have three scripts in hand now. And, I may be doing a film produced by Cheran," he says.

Does he ever feel bad about quitting his course mid-way?

"I always wanted to be an actor. I never knew how to tell my parents that, though.

And, coming from a second-tier town (Tiruchi), I did not have that kind of exposure to filmdom. I was not a great student, but gave studies my all once I joined engineering. Five Star happened by chance. And, then, the focus shifted to acting," he says.

As for his parents: "They were really worried when my films did not do well commercially and they wondered if I had made a mistake. After `Azhagiya Theeye', they are sleeping peacefully."

SUBHA J. RAO

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