The Unstoppable Star: GV Prakash Kumar

When music director GV Prakash Kumar made his debut as an actor a few years ago, no one could have predicted that he would slide into the premier league of Kollywood actors with such ease. On and off the screen, he maintains a low profile with no starry airs, humility in his actions and sincerity in his words. Excerpts from an interview with the star…

Interview by SASHTIVEL
Written by KAANCHAN PRASHANTH
Photographer: Jay and Mano
Stylist: Amritharam
Location: Thambi Villas, T. Nagar

HOW HAS LIFE CHANGED SINCE NAACHIYAR?

GV PRAKASH KUMAR: Working with director Bala is a one-of-a-kind experience. Under his guidance I have learnt so many nuances about cinema and acting. From dialog delivery to body language to looking in the right direction during the shot, he has taught me so much. And it has all paid off. After the movie I have received praises from all around. Fellow actors have personally called me and congratulated me on my performance in Naachiyar, which is a great thing. There are clips of the movie, scenes with me, which are popular with the audience – that’s a good sign too. Bala has rasied the bar for me. Now I have to try and stay up here, with my upcoming movies. That’s the challenge.

DID YOU JUMP AT THE OFFER WHEN BALA OFFERED YOU A ROLE IN HIS MOVIE?

Of course, I was not going to say no. In fact when I told Vijay that this had come up, he assured me that I was going to win a National Award now that I was going to star in a Bala film! Such is his reputation! But as soon as he offered me the part, I was worried about the dates. I had a four-five other projects that I had committed too, and I was not sure how long Bala required. When I expressed my concern, he said he would finish my portions in a 38-day schedule – in one stretch. I knew I could somehow work that out, but I couldn’t start right away, like he wanted. There again he was very understanding and waited almost two months. All this made me more committed to the part.

WHAT KIND OF RAPPORT DID YOU SHARE WITH BALA THROUGH THE MOVIE? HOW MUCH FUN DID YOU HAVE ON THE SET?

Fun, is not a word you can use in this context! The humour is restricted to the comedy scenes in the movie. The sets were more serious. You could see the dedication and passion with which everyone worked. Not just Bala, but everyone on his team were committed to his vision. Everyone wanted to use this golden opportunity to prove themselves. For his part he was very kind and caring towards Jyotika and me. He took very good care of us. On the first day of the shoot he helped me become Kaathu by telling me how my body language had to be. He was appreciative of my efforts all through. In his attitude, I understood how much he trusted me with this movie – almost as much as I trusted him with my character. It was a great experience.

“First people found my music monotonous. That changed with Aayirathil Oruvan. Then they found my choice of roles monotonous. Naachiyar changed that Critics will point out what they see as a flaw.But the right opportunity must come for someone to prove himself.”

YOU HAVE A LONG LINE-UP OF MOVIES COMING UP. SARVAM THALA MAIYAM seems to be THE BIGGEST ATTRACTION.

It’s a very beautiful film. It’s a full-fledged musical. It’s been almost forty years since we saw a movie like this in Tamil. After K. Vishwanath, I don’t think any other director has made a proper musical. Sarvam Thala Maiyam is the story of a musician, his journey. It’s the kind of story that needs to be told. Rajiv Menon’s knowledge in music is commendable. He knows what he is talking about, and only a director with such interest and knowledge in music can make a full feature film on it. Some movies will stay relevant through time, Sarvam Thala Mayam will be one of those movies.

WITH KUPPATHU RAJA YOU ARE ONCE MORE PLAYING A BOY FROM A SLUM. HOW HAVE YOU DIFFERENTIATED IT FROM KAATHU IN NAACHIYAR?

On the surface the look maybe similar, but the characterization and the story are completely different, so you can’t really compare the two characters. Kuppathu Raja travels along the dynamics of my character versus that of Parthieban’s. There’s an ongoing tiff between both the characters and that will be very interesting to watch.

YOU ARE ALSO POISED TO TAKE ON THE ACTION AND THE FANTASY GENRES WITH ADANGADHEY AND 4D, RESPECTIVELY…

The mood of Adangadhey is anger, I would say. It’s an action-based political thriller. It’s a serious movie with a great line-up of actors such as Sarathkumar and Mandira Bedi. It’s got a very strong story to tell. Then there’s 4D. It’s a fantasy film directed by director Shankar’s associate Venkat Pakkar. It’s a movie based on magic and I can safely say that it’s a genre that Tamil cinema is not very acquainted with. So it’s going to be a unique experience for the audience.

AFTER DARLING, 100% KADHAL IS THE SECOND REMAKE YOU ARE STARRING IN. HOW DO YOU LOOK AT WORKING IN A REMAKE?

100% Kadhal is a remake of the Telugu film 100% Love which is sort of along the lines of Kushi – a breezy romance. When you pick a movie to be remade you are banking on the fact that it has already worked, but you have to adapt it to the new audience. It is a challenge to make it a success once more.

YOU HAVE A LONG LINE-UP OF MOVIES IN THE OFFING. HOW DOES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?

Happy, of course! The fact that producers are willing to make movies with me gives me confidence that I am doing something right. I have to make sure that I keep doing the right thing!

HOW DO YOU TAKE CRITICISM?

Criticism comes with the territory. When you put your work out there for people to experience, they are going to give you their opinion. Not just for my acting; I have been criticised from the beginning of my career in cinema. First people commented on my music as being similar in all of my movies – that I was doing the same thing again and again. But when Aayirathil Oruvan happened it added a new dimension to my career. Likewise, when I started acting I was once again criticised for doing only comedy movies where my characters were all similar. But after Naachiyar that has stopped. You just have to keep an ear for the right kind of criticism and keep moving forward.

“When Sterlite has been banned in other states across the country, why not in Tamil Nadu? Our state is not a garbage dump. Why go ahead with a project that is hazardous to the well-being of the people?”

YOU ARE VERY ACTIVE ON SOCIAL MEDIA. WHAT PROMPTS YOU TO SPEAK UP ON SOCIAL ISSUES? IS IT THE FACT THAT YOU HAVE THE STAR POWER?

I don’t see myself like that. I speak about issues that are relevant to the society. Issues that need to be heard. Issues that need a voice. I speak because I am also a part of this society. I am one the people affected by these issues. Everyone must voice their opinions. Every burning issues gnawing at society must be addressed.

RAJINIKANTH AND KAMAL HAASAN HAVE OFFICIALLY ENTERED POLITICS. WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON ACTORS TURNING POLITICIANS?

It does not matter whether they are actors or sport stars. Anyone can become a politician. What really matters is what they stand for. We should judge their political propaganda based on what their principles are, what causes they are taking up, what reformations they promise to bring and how much good they actually do for society. There is no need to judge them based on what their previous profession was.

GV Prakash Kumar is definitely a star to reckon with. We admire the gusto with which he approaches his movies and the guts with which he openly discusses social issues. We wish him the very best in his every undertaking on and off the screen.