Composer-turned-actor GV Prakash Kumar has been getting a lot of praise for his role in the Bala-directed Naachiyaar. Padma Iyer talks to him about the experience of working in the movie and his plans going forward
GV Prakash made his debut in the Tamil film industry as a composer in 2006 with Veyil. He went on to give hit music for Tamil and Telugu movies. He also composed music for Malayalam, Kannada, Hindi and Marathi movies. He made his acting debut as a leading man in 2015 in Darling. He has had a successful run at the box office and with the recently released Naachiyaar he has proved that he can do not just comedy, but intense roles as well.
Talking about how the movie came about, Prakash says, “I got a call from Bala sir one day asking me to come to his office. I assumed that he wanted to talk to me about composing music for his film.” Not surprising that Prakash assumed thus, because he had composed music for Bala’s Paradesi. “I was pleasantly surprised when he said he wanted me to act in his movie. He explained the character and the film to me and I knew that I had to do it.”
The movies that Prakash had acted till then were mostly comedies; or what one would call commercial entertainers. “I was always into entertainment mode, comedy films. I wanted a change, but I didn’t know which director would do it for me. I am happy that Bala sir was the one. I wanted to do a film like Naachiyaar which is character driven.”
Bala’s movies are known for the look of characters. The personality of the character is defined by how they appear on screen. And Naachiyaar is no different. Talking about his role as Kaathu, Prakash says, “We worked on the look together. Bala sir wanted to have short hair, but I told him that kuppattu pasanga (boys in the slums) have unkempt and uncut hair. I agreed to dye my hair to get the authentic look. I also worked on the makeup with my team, to get the skin tone right. The clothes were decided by Bala sir.”
Playing a role of such intensity as Kaathu could not have been easy. When asked if it was a challenge, Prakash admitted that it was but added, “I like challenges. Every day was tough but it was how we approached it. And Bala sir was very supportive. Initially, I was scared, like how you would feel before an exam. But once Bala sir was there, it didn’t seem all that tough. I have complete trust in him.”
The level of trust that Prakash had in Bala can be gauged from an incident he narrates. “On the first day of the shoot Bala sir gave me some seeds that he had obtained from Kerala. He asked me to put them in my eyes. ‘It will make them red’ he said. I did exactly as he said.” Given the tough task master that he is known to be, it is no surprise that Bala gets his actors to do his bidding. And the result is magical on screen. “He is a teacher and guide. He is tough when you don’t understand. For me, it was never more than two takes. We have a good chemistry. The chemistry between artist and director is important,” Prakash added.
The titular character of Naachiyaar is played by Jyotikaa, who has been creating waves with her movie choices. She moved it up a notch with the tough cop role in this movie. Sharing his experiences about working with her, Prakash says, “She is a very sincere, sweet and warm person. She comes with a lot of positive energy on the sets and it shows in the film as well.”
Another highlight of the movie is the music by Isaignani Ilaiyaraaja. “I have been listening to Raja sir’s music for long. And he has done some superb background score as well. It was lovely that he composed the music for my film,” says Prakash.
Now that Prakash has proven his mettle at doing intense roles, will he be focussing on just these kinds of films? “I don’t want to do just one type of movie. It should be a mix of entertaining roles, intense, classy and commercial. Box office collections are also very important.”
Post Naachiyaar, Prakash has a couple of comedy and action movies lined up for 2018. He is also doing Sarvam Thaala Mayam, a musical directed by Rajiv Menon with music by AR Rahman. He has also been approached by directors Vasanthabalan, Gopi Nainaar and Ram for their next projects. Anurag Kashyap also has plans of introducing Prakash as an actor in Hindi films.
When quizzed if music has taken a back seat with acting taking so much of his time, Prakash says, “Music is my passion. Acting happened and when my films started working, more came my way. And the more I did it, the more I fell in love with it. It was something that I was bound to do and I am happy with where I am. Of course, I will continue making music. But I want to work with people who are willing to wait to work with me. I am making music for Vasanthabalan and Gopi’s films.”
Byline: Padma Iyer