'As long as the Aranmanai franchise exists, we'll make Iru Dhuruvam sequels'
...says Prasanna, along with Nandaa, Abhirami Venkatachalam and director Arun Prakash, as they discuss their new SonyLiv series, Iru Dhuruvam 2
Actor Prasanna was keen on dodging antagonist roles, especially on OTTs, as he was afraid of being typecast. But that idea didn't last for long when Iru Dhuruvam 2 gave him the opportunity to play a one-of-a-kind villain. "Lankeshwaran doesn't indulge in typical villainy. Though I have played the bad guy in Anjathey, Muran, Thiruttu Payaley 2 and Mafia, my role in Iru Dhuruvam 2(ID2) has layers beyond that," he says. His character Lankeshwaran is a cult leader at the core, but he masquerades as a motivational speaker, life coach, and psychologist. Prasanna shares that he observed many real-life personalities for reference. "It would be controversial to even list out the names here. But it is safe to say that I watched enough videos of all the top religious influencers and cult leaders to zero down the body language and diction of Lankeshwaran."
On the other hand, Nandaa, who returns as the protagonist Viktor in the second season, had a different set of challenges. "The pain of Viktor gets elevated in the new season, as his daughter suffers from PTSD and his wife is still missing. The layers only get increased with time, but director Arun Prakash knew the psyche of Viktor inside out and helped me pull off the role." Prasanna intervenes stating that Nandaa was extremely consumed by the role that he didn't even strike up a conversation with others on the sets. "Nandaa is a good friend for a long time. But this man didn't even smile at me while shooting for ID2. He was so much into the character that he didn't want to get out of the mood on the shooting days."
Returning the favour, Nandaa reveals that Prasanna's Lankeshwaran made him envious as an actor. "The idea of playing the bad guy has always excited me. Playing a character like Lankeshwaran is nothing short of a delight! I felt extremely envious of Prasanna while shooting. The conflicts of Viktor are quite internal, but for Lankeshwaran there are absolutely no boundaries."
But the trickiest role in the series has to be Abhirami Venkatachalam's Geetha, as she is kept imprisoned throughout and her only emotion is pain. How did she manage to make this exhausting process an interesting one? "Geetha is worried about her kid and is confused about her husband not saving her. At one point she starts to villainise Viktor in her head. I kept reminding myself of all these thoughts to get the performance right." In fact, her character gets an interesting turn in the season finale. Asked if she would we can see her in a full-fledged negative shade in the next season, she replies, "I would love to! But Arun has to call the shots. He has kept the end ambiguous for a reason."
Interestingly, Arun is a debutant filmmaker, who had no connection with the first season, which was helmed by M Kumaran. "I wanted to create my own world with the materials left by Kumaran in season one. I didn't want to be influenced by his idea for the sequel, so I refrained from discussing my script with him. Viktor is a well-etched protagonist and it was easy for me to develop a new story surrounding this central character." When asked if Arun had second thoughts about penning a brutal villain who is fascinated by Thirukkural, a book that is loved and treasured by millions across the world, he says, "No. I was very clear with the representation of the book and kurals in general in the series. Every cult leader uses a manuscript that is considered Holy by the masses as a facade to mask their evilness and lure the people."
The cliffhanger of ID2 makes it clear that Nandaa, Prasanna and Abhirami will be back to reprise their respective roles in season three. Arun clarifies that he has got an idea for the next season and has to just develop it into a full-fledged script in the coming months. When asked about a projection for the number of seasons the series will be getting, Prasanna, who expressed his confidence in Arun, signed off with an answer that had everyone in splits. "Iru Dhuruvam will continue to get sequels as long as the Aranmanai franchise is alive."