Prasanna: I am looking to make a comeback as hero
In this free-wheeling chat, actor Prasanna, the villain of Karthick Naren's latest outing Mafia Chapter 1, reveals he is planning to start a production house and return to the silver screen as a hero
Prasanna answers straight from the shoulder and without much uneasiness even when you ask him if acting in supporting roles has affected his prospects of playing the lead. “Though actors playing supporting roles and villains are getting recognised and have their own set of fans, being a hero has its own charm. That’s what I was after when I came into the cinema industry. So, in my journey, these roles are like a small detour, which should eventually lead to the road which I wanted to travel. And I believe it will,” he says.
In Mafia Chapter 1, Prasanna appears in the role of a gangster, and he is all praise for director Karthick Naren. “He is clear about what he wants. Even before approaching me, he had everything ready in terms of the script… including the film's logo. Also, he has a sweet way of demanding more from the actors. For his age and experience, he is amazing. Karthick will go a long way.”
Though Prasanna loved playing the villain in Mafia, the actor stresses once again that he is looking forward to making a comeback as a hero. He also reveals that he has plans of starting his own production house. “I will be making the announcement soon. It will happen in a year. It is the need of the hour that all the actors have their own banner.” He adds, “Like all the industry bigwigs are saying... the industry is struggling. Only a few films break even. It is tough to be an actor in such a scenario. The competition is high. Yet, we cannot stop making films. Not just because it’s our bread and butter; this is what we do.”
Prasanna, who is one of the few actors from Tamil cinema to venture into digital content, with a series called Thiravam, feels OTT platforms might hold the answer for struggling creators. “Good films and stories which are not deemed viable for theatrical release now have another medium to reach the audience. But that doesn’t mean that cinema will die out,” he says.
After Muran, Thiruttu Payale 2, and now, Mafia, Prasanna is becoming the go-to suave villain in Tamil cinema, and he is aware of it too. “I started doing such grey roles to escape being typecast as ‘the chocolate boy’ and a romantic hero. Now, I am ironically getting a lot of one particular kind of villain roles. I would be happy if I am approached to do a villain in a rural setting. That’s why I did a small role in Baana Kaathadi as a North Madras guy… to prove that I am not just a guy with roses.”
Azhagiya Theeyae was one Prasanna's career-defining films and it put him in the mould of a ‘charming person’. When asked if that ‘charm’ has stopped him from becoming a versatile actor, Prassana says, “It’s funny, because if Azhagiya Theeyae had been a hit, and then this happened to me, I would have at least cherished the commercial success. But the film got its due only much later. Still, I am glad I did that film.”
Prasanna admits that he has often wondered what would have happened if he had made his debut in this age of social media with a film like Azhagiya Theeyae or Kanda Naal Mudhal. “They would have blown up instantly perhaps. But again, if those films had not happened back then I wouldn’t be here now. These films at least gave me a pathway into the industry. If I had not done Azhagiya Theeyae and not met Radha Mohan, Viji, and Prakash Raj, I don’t know what I would have become. It's scary to think about.”
So how does he view his evolution from an engineering student from Trichy to the actor he is now? “I have always believed in my intuition, and thankfully it has worked. I never thought I would end up as an engineer. Like Bhagavad Gita and the book The Secret tell us, you end up becoming what you want. That said, I am happy with what I am doing now, though this is not exactly what I wanted to do.”