Karthik Subbaraj is a visionary: Prabhudheva
The actor-choreographer-director’s second innings as an actor has really kicked off in earnest, as he awaits as many as three big releases
Prabhudheva, who has made his mark as an actor, dancer, choreographer, and filmmaker, turned 45 on Tuesday. He may have excelled at various roles, but maintains that he cannot imagine life without dance. “It’s an extension of my personality. I approach dance in a raw way. There is something pure that happens between my emotions and movements. Nothing comes in between,” he says, almost meditatively.
When he’s dancing, Prabhudheva’s in total control. "Everything changes. I turn into a taskmaster. I become the creator and get high on expressions and body language. I become fiery," he says.
He says actors are well aware of what to expect from him as a choreographer. “Every actor — Madhuri Dixit, Salman Khan, Varun Dhawan — knows I’m a taskmaster. They want to show themselves as great dancers for their fans. And that’s why they’re happy to work long hours to do as I ask them to,” he says. “For instance, I worked with Madhuri Dixit for Que Sera Sera in Pukar. She’s a great classical dancer, but my style is different; she kept on practising till she got it right. She must have done at least 20 rehearsals.”
Why does he suppose audiences just can’t have enough of him as a dancer? “I think it’s because my steps look easy, but they actually aren’t,” he says, with a smile. “The audience like to see dance moves that can be replicated. But when they actually try to emulate my steps, they will realise it’s all a bit too complicated for a commoner."
Lately, he’s returned to doing Tamil films again. The comeback started with Vijay’s Devi in 2016. And now, he’s got a bunch of films awaiting release, including Yung Mung Sung, Lakshmi, and the big one, Mercury by director Karthik Subbaraj. Despite having succeeded as a director himself, Prabhudheva is at pains to explain he has no problems taking instructions as an actor. “All my experience has only made me more focussed. As an actor, I do not interfere or try to use my seniority,” he says. “Unless I am aligned to a director’s vision, I don’t sign a film. And if I do, then I should simply follow his vision.”
He’s excited about Mercury, a silent film. “I wanted to work with Karthik Subbaraj. He’s a good filmmaker and everyone wants to work with him.” He doesn’t make much of the fact that it’s a silent film. “Those aspects are additional elements. My main reason for working with him is because he’s a filmmaker with a strong vision,” he says.
It is rumoured that Mercury talks about the debilitating effects of industrialisation. “Ten minutes after the film begins, you’ll forget it’s a silent film. It will engage you visually so well that you will not miss the dialogues at all. During the climax, you will be on the edge of your seat. You should see Mercury to get what I’m saying," he says.