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A Fine Balance

Actor, director and choreographer Prabhu Deva talks to Padma Iyer about his film, Khamoshi, working with Tamannaah Bhatia, his upcoming films and more

The last time we spoke was before the release of Mercury. You played a negative role in that thriller. You are stepping into the same zone with Khamoshi. What made you come back to being an antagonist?

Well, this was not something I had planned. Mercury and Khamoshi were challenging roles and so I did them. There was no decision, as such, to do negative roles. These roles just happened to come my way.

This is your third film with Tamannaah and all three films are in the horror-thriller zone. Do you like scaring her? How was the experience working with her?

(Laughs) Nothing like that. She scared me the first time and now I am scaring her, that’s all. Also Devi was a horror comedy and Khamoshi is a thriller. They are of different genres. And I think movies like this give me the opportunity to try something new, which is why I do them. Like I said, this is not a planned move.

Tamannaah is a very hard-working girl. She gives one hundred per cent to every film she does, not only this one. It is a wonderful experience working with her.

As an actor, how do you prepare for such a role? Are there any reference points or any actor’s work that you take inspiration from?

I have been working for so many years and I have never prepared for any of the roles. I use whatever I have experienced during my years of work and bring that to the role. And then there is the director to guide you throughout the process. So whenever you have any issues or questions, he is there to guide you. You don’t need anything else.

If you ask me about inspiration, I have not taken any inspiration to prepare for this role. I just go with the flow and everything else falls into place.

Your dancing skills are legendary. You recently did a dance film Lakshmi and you have a Hindi film based on dance, Street Dancer 3D. Tell us about working on these films.

With Lakshmi, we wanted to do a dance film but with children. I am happy that I did that film. It was an interesting experience. Street Dancer 3D is a special film. The relationship I share with Remo (D’Souza) and the team of the film… it is a journey we have been on for a long time. I am really looking forward to the film.

Khamoshi is directed by Chakri Toleti, who made his directorial debut with the Kamal Haasan-starrer Unnaipol Oruvan. You too have worked with Kamal sir. How was the dynamic between Chakri and you?

Chakri lives in America. So his thinking and working style is akin to what we see in Hollywood films. And that is what you see in Khamoshi as well. It is a very well-made film, technically sound. My relationship with him is very good. He is a cool guy and during the making of the film, we became good friends. Actually, the working environment on Khamoshi was a happy space. I know you must wonder how we managed to be happy since this is a dark film. But once the director said, ‘cut’ it was all fun and games.

We have to ask you about the Salman Khan film Dabangg 3, which you are directing. What can you tell us about the film?

As of now, nothing. (Smiles) You will have to wait. I will talk about it when the time comes.

You are working in films of different genres. With acting, you are directing as well. How do you manage?

It is all about getting the balance right. When I am acting, I am only acting. I switch off everything else and switch on to the character I am playing in that film. And when I am directing, the actor in me is switched off and the focus is on what I am doing now. So, for now, I am in director-mode for Dabangg 3.

What are your plans, your upcoming projects?

There is Street Dancer 3D and a Tamil film that I have completed. These are my acting projects. Then, of course, there is Dabangg 3, which is what I am working on now. I will continue to explore acting opportunities in Tamil and Telugu films as of now. I have not made any plans to direct any regional films. Let us see how things work out.

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