Playing the titular role in Geetha is an honour: Prayaga Martin
The actor talks about how she understood the culture and history of the Kannada film industry, and learned more about Shankar Nag's classic film whose title her upcoming film shares
Ganesh-starrer Geetha, directed by Vijay Naagendra, will mark the Kannada debut of Malayalam actor Prayaga Martin. The film’s title is based on the 1983 classic film starring Shankar Nag. Prayaga says she feels fortunate to play the titular role in the film. “I am a Malayali who is just stepping into the Kannada film industry. I happen to be doing so with Geetha, and I play the titular role in it! While I consider it an honour, I was well aware of the responsibility as well. So I did a lot of preparation for this role,” she says.
In an interaction with Cinema Express, the actor talks about how she made sure that she understood the culture and history of the Kannada film industry, and learned more about the legendary actor-director, to help her give life to the character.
Watching the classic film starring Shankar Nag was the first step to Geetha
Since Prayaga is playing the titular role, the team of Geetha was particular that she watch the Shankar Nag-starrer. The actor adds that she was familiar with the actor-director from his work in Malgudi Days. “When I received a call from Team Geetha, they mentioned that the title was revived from the classic film. They also wanted me to do some homework, including watching Geetha, though ours is not a sequel,” says Prayaga, stressing that the upcoming film will not have any shades of that film made in the 80s. “But because I am an outsider to the Kannada industry, they felt that this project will help me get familiarised with Kannada films, songs, and the legacy of Shankar Nag. And it did help me know it all better.”
I share a lot of similarities with Geetha
Prayaga, who started her film career when she was 19 with the Tamil film Pisaasu, is now an established heroine in the Malayalam film industry. The 14-film-old actor says among all the films that she has been a part of so far, Geetha is, in a way, the closest to her heart since she shares a lot of similarities with the character. “Geetha is someone any girl of today can relate to,” says Prayaga. “Independence is something that varies from person to person. Geetha is a woman who lives on her own terms. She doesn’t like to depend on anybody else, and is a likeable, real, raw, straightforward, and mature soul. She is happy-go-lucky person, always lending a helping hand, who is content with her life, and respects herself and others as well — more or less what today’s woman is or likes to be. Geetha is someone I would look up to. So while playing this role, I didn’t feel like I was doing something that I have never done before. I enjoyed being Geetha.”
I am a proud Malayali, but also have Karnataka in my heart
Kannada industry comes across as very professional, says Prayaga. “It was very motivating for me when I learned that legendary actors like Rajinikanth and Anil Kapoor, and a popular heroine like Deepika Padukone, all started their careers from here,” adds the actor.
“I am a proud Malayali, but my heart also has a place for Karnataka. And this feeling deepened when I got to know that legendary actors like Dr Rajkumar, Shankar Nag, and Vishnuvardhan have come together for their Kannada culture and language. If the same unity is showcased even today, I am sure, Kannada industry will go a long way,” says Prayaga, who also learnt the history behind the Gokak agitation, an episode that is being explored for the first time in Geetha. “I wanted to know what the agitation was all about, as it is an episode in Geetha. I asked the director to brief me about this, and I also read about it.”
Geetha has the best team coming together
According to Prayaga, Geetha had the best team coming together, one that includes actor Ganesh, producer Syed Salaam, director Vijay Naagendra, DOP Shreesha Kuduvalli, and Santhosh Ananddram, among others.
“Vijay was the first person I met, and I loved the narration he gave about my character and the film. This apart, I had a detailed description from the team, including from the DOP, who discussed the costumes, makeup, and hair. They were very specific about how they wanted to see me as Geetha on screen. The director is a man of vision, and I hope, it all falls into place and is in sync with his ideas. A special mention should go to Shreesha, who has done a marvellous job,” says Prayaga, who was also awestruck with Ganesh’s performance. “He is so natural that I had all my attention focused there whenever he did his scenes. I should also mention producer Syed Salam, who was an integral part of the shoot,” she adds.