Location Diaries: Why so serious?
This weekly column details the fascinating encounters that often take place on the sets of a film and this week it is Lock Up
When his good friend, actor-turned-producer Nitin Sathya asked Venkat Prabhu to act as a cop in his film, Lock Up, the latter was hesitant, as he couldn't imagine himself in such a serious role. "I'm a light-hearted guy in real life and my character in the film is the opposite of what I am. He's a bad cop, and completely self-centered, with loads of attitude," says Venkat. But Nitin felt that this difference between reel and real-life would bring novelty to the role.
On the sets, Venkat found it even harder to get used to playing the bad cop and wearing the police officer's uniform. He was self-conscious and aware of his inherent comic streak. He says he made a big effort to be serious on the first day of the shoot. But trouble began when his close friend, co-star Vaibhav, stepped in for the shot. "We had to stare malevolently at each other. But since this is so unlike our offscreen camaraderie, we broke into uncontrollable laughter in seconds."
This went on for another 15 takes, till everyone on the sets, including director Charles Prabhu, got fed up. "I realised I was wasting time and the producer's money. After apologising to everyone, we made a herculean effort to get serious and finally gave the right performance on the 16th take!"
After that, things changed for the better. "I actually came into films to be an actor. I recalled that dream to my co-actors and began tapping into the actor within me."
The reward came from an unexpected quarter. "One day, after a single, lengthy shot in a market place, where I had to scare shopkeepers and threaten people, Vaibhav's dad walked up to me said that I was the best actor in the film. This man has produced 99 films and such a compliment from him was a huge encouragement for me."
But though he got engrossed in acting, the public wouldn't let him forget he was a director. "Whenever we shot in crowded places, people would ask me why I was wasting time there. 'Go and write Mankatha 2 and begin shooting with Thala Ajith!' they would scream."