South Indian actor Prakash Raj will don the role of the defence lawyer in the Tamil remake of Jolly LLB, a Hindi work directed by Subhash Kapoor in 2013. The part in the original was played by Boman Irani, who as Tejinder Rajpal -- defending a rich man's son accused of killing and maiming pavement dwellers as he drives his car over them in his drunken state -- was superb.
The Tamil version will be directed by Mueenuddin Ahmed and have Udhayanidhi Stalin essaying the prosecution counsel that Arshad Warsi portrayed in Jolly LLB. Warsi was terrific as a struggling advocate who dares to take on a legal legend like Rajpal in a riveting courtroom work that reminded one of a Perry Mason adventure.
Undoubtedly, Prakash Raj has an interesting range, having been the villain in movies such as Singham and Dabangg 2 (both in Hindi) and the good man in works like Kanchivaram, Abhiyum Naanum, Un Samayal Arayil and lately in Mani Ratnam's O Kadhal Kanmani.
In the course of a brief chat on Tuesday with this writer as he was on his way to a shoot, Prakash Raj says that the baddie tag seems to have stuck to him, although he has done far many more films as the good guy.
Indeed, so. One remembers him as the impoverished silk weaver in Priyadarshan's 2008 Kanchivaram (it opened the Toronto Film Festival) who steals thread from the factory where he works to weave a sari for his wife. Raj brought a kind of pathos to the character unseen before, leaving one amazed at his ability to disappear into the role.
Abhiyum Naanum was a lighter work that drew its strength from Prakash Raj's doting father of a girl who is perfectly capable of taking care of herself. The father-daughter relationship was captured with rare sensitivity. One still remembers that scene where Prakash Raj's character nearly swoons when his daughter brings home her boyfriend, a Sikh.
However, his role as an elderly husband in O Kadhal Kanmani, looking after his wife, fast losing her memory, was just heartrending. Prakash Raj was brilliant conveying those painful emotions of a man who is about to lose his beloved partner. Dancer Leela Samson played the wife.
Prakash Raj avers that he really does not differentiate from one role from another. A role is a role is a role. He is as easy essaying the ruthless brute in Singham and Dabangg2 as he is playing the suffering worker or an overly concerned parent or a worried spouse seeing his wife slip into a state where she may not even recognise him.
However, Prakash Raj does find it somewhat tedious when he directs and acts. One misses the opportunity to see a scene unfolding from afar. But direction is something which he finds enormously fulfilling. It is a complete exercise, and gives one an opportunity to create something beautiful.
But, for now, Prakash Raj is all set to be Rajpal -- whose fight-to-finish in trying to save his client from a prison term was sheer drama, gripping to the core.