“It’s always tough to be in the industry”
By Ankita R Kanabar
(This interview has been published in the July 13, 2013 issue of Super Cinema)
It’s hard to believe that someone who makes full-on ‘masala’, larger-than-life films, is a person who more often than not, likes to remain in his own world. He’s shy, reticent, which is why, to get him talking and share his thoughts is a big task in itself. He keeps flashing a smile every now and then though. But, Prabhudeva is Prabhudeva for a reason. He dances like a dream, and then he excels at making movies. The man has to be something right? And now, the dancer-cum-actor-cum-director is ready with his next. This time though, he’s introducing a newcomer, as oppose to working with a big star. ‘Ramaiya Vastavaiya’ shall see debutant Girish Kumar opposite Shruti Haasan. At a plush suburban hotel, I catch up with the director, as he speaks about his upcoming film and more.
So, what’s his basic aim while he’s making a film? Does he think about the box office numbers? “No, I never really think about box office numbers. The only thought I have in my head is that I have to make a good film. That’s it. Usually, my agenda while making any film is that it should be an entertaining film. I should make my producer and actor happy. We must be first satisfied with it, then it’s all in God’s hand and the audience’s hand, but at least we must like what we’ve created. That’s what is important,” says Prabhudeva. While both his Hindi films have turned out to be huge blockbusters, there’s still no pride seen in his voice or body language. But ask him if the success of his previous films builds any pressure while making his next, and he says, “No I never think like that. I always think about every film as my first film. After so many years of experience, I can’t go like that. For me, every film is my first film.”
Interestingly, ‘Ramaiya Vastavaiya’ is the remake of his directorial debut down south, called ‘Nuvvostanante Nenoddantana’. Hence, I wondered if shooting for ‘Ramaiya Vastavaiya’ made him nostalgic and brought back old memories. “Before we started shooting, the old memories came but then while we were actually filming, it didn’t happen, because the village where we shot the film was so beautiful, we created so many new memories there, that I couldn’t think of old memories. It was even better than Switzerland. It was a very nice experience. We went smooth, and the shoot went as per the plan. Normally when you finish the shoot, everyone just wants to go home, but this village was so vibrant and positive that nobody felt like going home. Even now, everyone misses that place,” expresses the director. So, was it a difference experience directing a newcomer? “Of course, the difference is there, because here the person is so new. When someone is a superstar, obviously they would know so much more. So, definitely, there’s a huge difference, but the entire process of making the film remains the same.”
What’s endearing about Prabhudeva is that he isn’t taking anything he’s got for granted. He’s been through ups and downs, but now despite the success, he isn’t laid back. Shares the director, “Up and downs are normal, and they’re there for all of us since we’re humans. I always thought it was tough for me. In fact, I think now also it’s tough for me. It’s always tough to be in the industry.” And while it is so tough to be here, what is it about being the director that attracts him the most? “Everything about a director’s job is challenging. First of all, to manage 200-300 people is a big thing. As they say, the director is the captain of the ship, and that is so true! Because, every decision is his, and all the responsibility he has to take. It’s a huge challenge. But it’s the curiosity and excitement which keeps me going. When we do a scene and it happens well, more than being happy about it, I’m always curious and excited about what we’re going to shoot next.”
It would be interesting to actually know what were the milestones of Prabhudeva’s career. But ask him that and he turns shy, “I don’t know. I cannot really say or I don’t sit and analyse that this was the highlight of my career. When I came into the industry, may be that was the highlight. I was bad at my studies, so I had no other option than to come to films.” Now that’s hard to believe! So, was he naughty as a child? “No I was very calm and simple as a child. Not naughty at all, but suddenly I got bad at studies, I don’t know how.”
But, Prabhudeva is someone who’s primararily known as a dancer than a filmmaker. In fact, tags like, ‘India’s answer to Michael Jackson’, and the likes have been bestowed on him. So, despite hearing all this for so many years now, how does he still react to all of it? “In the initial days, there was a lot of excitement. But being here for so many years I’ve seen everything and I’m used to everything that comes along. Having said that, I definitely respect that kindness and love I get from people. I totally love it,” smiles the legendary dancer. Which explains why dancing is also closest to his heart. “Dancing is what gives me the most creative satisfaction. Dancing is closest to my heart. Honestly, I don’t really know anything. I don’t know hip-hop or salsa or anything. I just know Bollywood dancing. I’ll do whatever comes my way.” And obviously, all his films have the quintessential Prabhudeva style, and ‘Ramaiya Vastavaiya’ is no different. “Yes there is lots of dancing in the film. And Girish has worked very hard. Before the shoot began, he was training for around six months,” says the ‘Rowdy Rathore’ director.
Post ‘Ramaiya Vastavaiya’, up next from the director will be ‘Rambo Rajkumar’ starring Shahid Kapoor and Sonakshi Sinha. Prabhudeva though remains tight-lipped about that project. “The shooting of the film will complete soon,” is all he says. Indeed now, Prabhudeva lets his work do all the talking!