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INTERVIEW: “I’ve Surprised Myself With ‘Mercury’”, says Prabhudeva

Prabhudeva seems to be believe in creating cinema that entertains the masses in the true action, comedy and romance way. The films he’s directed have been received well by the single screen audiences and left the multiplex audiences puzzled about his thought process but that has never stopped him from being a massy director. His dance numbers have always kept the audiences captivated and so has his acting which was seen in the ‘Any Body Can Dance (ABCD)’ series. He’s a celebrated performer and he mesmerized audiences with his on and off screen presence.

The multi-talented personality is all set to play an antagonist for the first time in a silent film ‘Mercury’ and he chatted with us to reveal the following:

Q. Tell us something about your role.

Prabhudeva: This is the first time I’ve ever done such a thing. You’ve never seen me before in such a role. I’m playing a villain with no dialogues. After having read the script, I was eagerly waiting to commence the shoot. Fortunately, it didn’t feel challenging because the director was so good. If I would do wrong I would be told to give one more take that’s all, that’s the kind of confidence that was built in me. It was a different kind of experience. When I was told it’s a silent film, I was surprised. I was doubtful of how it would keep the audience entertained for 2 hours. But when I was narrated the story, I believed in it. But my immediate question was, why me? I hadn’t done such a thing before so I that question to arise. But when director (Nikhil Subbaraj) said you’ll be able to pull it off. I said ok let’s do it!


Q. What made you say ‘Yes’ within 15 mins of narration to this film?

Prabhudeva: I have seen Kartik’s work before. I was aware of his cinema. His reputation is of a good director. Even if it was a different story than this, I would have done it.

Q. There was a silent film ‘Pushpak’ they had released. How different is your film from that?

Prabhudeva: That was 30 years back and a completely different film. There’s nothing that can be compared to it.

Q. Would you say being a dancer and expressing your dance through your expressions has helped you emote better on the film?

Prabhudeva: Sub consciously my dancing expressions would have helped my acting. But that’s not something that I had in mind. I didn’t calculate it that way in my head.

Q. Do you believe your fans will miss you doing a full fledged dance film with ‘Mercury’?

Prabhudeva: I’ve been doing a lot of dance and dance based films so I didn’t miss it.

Q. How did you prepare to be an antagonist?

Prabhudeva: There were no preparations that we did. I heard the script and landed on the sets. We didn’t even do any rehearsals. I wanted it to be spontaneous, I didn’t want it to look planned. There are no rehearsals for doctors and engineers, I wanted to do the scenes as they came to me.

Q. Was it your idea to inculcate a promotional dance song for the film?

Prabhudeva: I was told that there’s this promotional song that I need to do. I just went and danced.

Q. Tell us something about your look in the film.

Prabhudeva: For the first time in my life I sat down for 2 hours to do my make up with prosthetics daily. I was used to doing 5 minutes make up before this. The scenes were so interesting that I didn’t mind going through the process on a daily basis. The role made it all worth it.

Q. Is ‘Mercury’ a horror film or a thriller?

Prabhudeva: I can’t reveal much about my role but can say that it’s a thriller.

Q. The film is based on a true incident where waste mercury was dumped in a lake near a village. How much realism has been added to the film?

Prabhudeva: We know that chemicals have an adverse effect to them but to what extend they can be dangerous is unknown and this film explores that. We use mercury for a lot of things, it’s in our basic thermometers. It was interesting to know more about it.


Q. What was that one factor that made you say ‘Yes’ instantly?

Prabhudeva: Karthik (director) told me he’s very bad at narrating a story but I told him if I understand what he was conveying, that would be more than enough. If I like a person maybe sometimes that’s enough for me to put my faith in you.

Q. Would your fans accept you as a non Dancer in this film?

Prabhudeva: I think my fans have seen me dancing a lot. It’s time to show a different side of myself. If they want to see me dance it can probably be my next film.

Q. ‘ABCD 3’ has been announced with Varun Dhawan and Katrina Kaif along with your presence being mentioned. What’s happening with it?

Prabhudeva: How much you know about that film is how much I know about it. The fact that Remo (D’Souza) is there is enough for me to blindly believe in it.

Q. Have you seen ‘Mercury’ yourself? How confident are you with your character?

Prabhudeva: I’ve surprised myself with film. I’ve seen the film and it’s one of the best ones I’ve ever come across.

Q. What kind of response have you received since the teaser have been coming out?

Prabhudeva: When the teaser came out, the response I got was phenomenal. People are ready to watch me in such a character. I’ve received a lot of appreciation. I didn’t get any complains of why am I not dancing in this one. I think there is a genuine interest from them.

Q. After having read the script, did you get a thought of directing the film yourself?

Prabhudeva: I don’t think I’m capable enough to direct such a film.

Q. Do box office numbers matter to you?

Prabhudeva: When you work hard on a film, you wish for it to be appreciated and for it to become a hit.

Q. The audience today has become very intelligent, they’re not willing to accept anything even if it has a superstar in it. How much do you think the audience has changed?

Prabhudeva: We cannot categorize content driven and commercial films. Even commercial films have some content to back all the ‘masala’. To make a commercial film is very difficult. To convince people that a man can bash 10 goons and make them whistle is not easy. Commercial films don’t depend on reviews and ratings. When we see a Hollywood superhero film, all of them pretend to save the world. The base is same and everything else it played around it but each film goes onto collect billions. If a film is good, it works.

Q. Do you read reviews for your films?

Prabhudeva: I do not read all the reviews that I get. I usually do not get a great feedback from there so sometimes it feels pointless. It depends on my mood, if I want to go through a critic’s review. If I’m on a flight and when nobody is looking at me, that’s my most comfortable hour to read it. The negative reviews do affect in a little way, I’m a human after all. I get upset and move on.

Q. Who do you think is the best and most hardworking actor today?

Prabhudeva: There are a lot of people. I desire to work with them all so wouldn’t want to specify anyone.

Q. You’ve just completed a Da-Bangg your, you’re now promoting your film ‘Mercury’ as an actor and then you start ‘Dabangg 3’ as a director. How do you manage doing such different roles?

Prabhudeva: I start my day at 6:30 in the morning and finish my day at 11:30 or 12 in the night. I feel like doing this helps me do the work or two days in one. I’m quick at taking decisions. Things may go wrong but I like taking risks by taking quick decisions. It’s all about the intuition and gut feeling. Be it editing or anything, that’s how I operate. I’m acting in 4-5 films now.

Q. How does your day off look like?

Prabhudeva: I don’t sleep much. I like watching movies with my kids. But the funny thing is when I am doing that I fall asleep easily. Sometimes I sleep at 9:30 pm as well. Even if I am sleepy during the day, I don’t take a nap I directly do it in the night. Another fact is that my kids don’t like watching my films. They like playing with me and spending the time doing other things.


Q. How do you keep yourself fit?

Prabhdeva: I work out for an hour daily. I don’t go to the gym. I do functional exercises at home or wherever I am. I do a lot of stretching and yoga. Being an actor, you have to be fit.

Q. Being an unmatchable dancer and an entertaining director, did you never think of directing a dance film yourself?

Prabhudeva: it is difficult to do a dance movie. Directing what you see in such films is a difficult task. There are a lot of expectations from a dance film in terms of the forms and steps.

Q. Was it difficult for you to not have dialogues and act in the film?

Prabhudeva: Expressing oneself can happen in any language. A film is not restricted to a particular language. It’s all about the feeling. Expressing is connecting with someone who is even a kilometer away from you. You’re limited with a dialogue. You can have your suggestions for the director. But as an actor you know how you’re going to emote. You know how your 35th take will go.

Q. Do you think there’s a difference between the way Bollywood and Tollywood shoot their films? Which industry is more disciplined?

Prabhudeva: Work on a film these days doesn’t get over even a day prior to the release date. One has to be disciplined till then. You can put either Bollywood or Tollywood in one specific category. It depends from person to person. If someone isn’t organized, it shows. But these days everything functions very smoothly.

Q. What’s your opinion on the way the younger lot of actors work?

Prabhudeva: The current lot works very hard. I’ve worked with Varun (Dhawan) in ABCD 2 and his dedication was inspiring. I don’t know how actors used to work earlier. With growing opportunities, there’s increased competition today.

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