Prithviraj about his Salaar co-star Prabhas: I get why they call him ‘darling’ - Hindustan Times
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Prithviraj Sukumaran about his Salaar co-star Prabhas: I get why they call him ‘darling’

ByNeeshita Nyayapati
Dec 16, 2023 06:28 AM IST

Prithviraj Sukumaran interview: In an exclusive chat with HT, he opens up about everything from his upcoming films to what he hopes for next year.

Prithviraj Sukumaran is counting his blessings, literally. “Salaar is a dream project to be in…then there’s a Malayalam film called The Goat Life…a third directorial…returning to Hindi cinema,” he rattles off to HT in an exclusive chat over the phone. We can’t see him but it’s hard not to imagine him counting on the fingers like an excited child, because the enthusiasm in his voice is palpable. He gets candid, “This year has truly been a mixed bag.” What follows is a conversation about everything from the way he picks his scripts to nursing a wounded leg and, of course, his big project - Salaar Part 1: Ceasefire, co-starring Prabhas. (Also Read: Salaar is violent but will explore the deep emotions between lead characters: Prabhas)

Prithviraj Sukumaran plays Vardharaja Mannaar in Salaar
Prithviraj Sukumaran plays Vardharaja Mannaar in Salaar

You play Varadharaja Mannar in Salaar, he looks quite intense…

He is. Salaar is all about the dynamic between him and Prabhas’ character Deva. Prashanth Neel (the director) narrated the story to me when he was shooting for KGF 2. Not only was I flattered that he imagined me as Varadha, but it’s also one of the best scripts I’ve read in a while. I took a leap of faith and I believe it paid off because Prashanth is the kind of director who will change the whole shot if he believes your input is valuable. He made me feel like a collaborator…it’s the most joyous part of the film for me.

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You say Salaar is all about Deva and Varadha, did you and Prabhas have a great equation off-screen?

It’s impossible to know Prabhas and not be his friend instantaneously. I have very few friends but he’s one of the people I constantly message. He has the gift of finding joy in other people’s happiness. He’s always looking out for everyone on set, feeding them good food, making sure they’re comfortable…I get why people call him ‘darling.’ We hit it off immediately and had a ball working together.

Prithviraj Sukumaran and Prabhas in a still from Salaar
Prithviraj Sukumaran and Prabhas in a still from Salaar

The story of Salaar seems like that of a man helping his childhood friend out of a pinch. But is there more to the film than what we’ve seen in the promotional material?

Absolutely. You have not seen all of Salaar yet. The film has a lot more to offer than what it seems like on the surface. I believe the takeaway for the audience will be that this is a great piece of cinema. They will leave the hall thinking they’ve not just seen some great action sequences but also some good drama. Not just that, the lead up to the second part of Salaar is just wonderful…it’s totally worth watching.

But how do you pick your scripts, because you’ve done some interesting work in Malayalam, Tamil and even Hindi…

I’ve never heard a narration or read a script and imagined myself playing the part or directing it. It sounds odd…but I look at it through the lens of an audience. If it doesn’t potentially excite me as a viewer, I’m not doing it. I feel like my character is secondary and the film, the story as a whole are important. I’d rather play an okay character in a great film than a fantastic character in an average film. Salaar is one of those rare few films where my role and the story are equally good.

With 2023 coming to an end, what do you look forward to in 2024?

2023 has thrown a lot my way. I broke my knee in June and was bedridden for three months. I had to undergo surgery and slow things down for a while. I directed Mohanlal’s Lucifer (2019) but for the sequel, L2 Empuraan, we had to recce locations for a year-and-a-half. Thankfully, things are moving along now. I hope the year ends with a bang, thanks to Salaar. I’ve shot a schedule for L2E in Leh, Delhi and Shimla. We have another schedule next year in January. I also wrapped up filming for The Goat Life and am returning to Hindi cinema with Bade Miyan Chote Miyan. Life’s good right now and I look forward to 2024.

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