Actor and director Prithviraj Sukumaran was last seen in Ayyappanum Koshiyum and Driving License. He’s also directing Mohanlal-starrers Empuraan (the sequel to Lucifer) and Bro Daddy. In this interview with Baradwaj Rangan, ahead of the direct OTT release of Cold Case, he talks about how he approached his police role in the film and how he would describe his journey as an actor in over a hundred films. Edited Excerpts…
Cold case is coming out on Amazon Prime Video soon. You have played a cop in quite a few movies across languages, like Vargam and Raavanan. When you get a new cop character, how do you approach it?
I have done so many cop films, there are two types of cop films, character driven films like Vargam or Mumbai Police, something like Memories — the films were pretty much about the character. Mumbai Police is about Antony Moses. There are plot-driven films where you are just a character without any weight or complexity or layers to it. In that kind of script, I realize the fact that I should not try too hard. I should not come in and design a body language to make me look like a special kind of a guy and take away focus from what the writer wants.
Cold Case is one such movie. ACP Satyajith is only a character in the plot. Of course, you discover through what he sees and what he hears. He is just an efficient investigative officer, that’s it. The film is not about him. It’s not about the backstory of Satyajith. So, I take a step back, make sure that I don’t take the scene away as an actor. That’s my thought process and I hope it works for the film.
You are someone who comes after the Mamooty and Mohanlal Generation. Koode was your 100th film in the span of a little less than 20 years. What would be one word you use to describe this incredible Journey?
I guess, the one word would be ‘gratifying’. I always say this: I had it easy coming into the industry because of my surname. I got my first film because of my surname. From there on I was really lucky to have worked with some of the finest filmmakers and writers of Malayalam. Sometimes Dulquer tells me that I came into the industry when things were really tough, as the Malayalam industry was solely about the BIG M’s. We were also going through a bad phase creatively, replicating what was going on Tamil and Telugu as there was so much success going on there. But we couldn’t do that as we did not have the means to do that. We couldn’t do the large scale commercial pot boilers. Most of our attempts to replicate those films fell flat.
We didn’t know which way to go about it till a new bunch of writers and directors came in and we went back to our roots. In the initial few years, in one way, it was quite easy for me because I was the only young actor on the path and pretty much most of the characters came to me. In another way, I felt like I was more often doing cinema that I couldn’t relate to. The aesthetic didn’t excite me. Then, I realized that I am an actor, that I am a part of the industry and this is what the industry needs.
Now, I am glad that I lived through that phase. I have learned so much from it. I tell my fellow actors that I belong to the last generation of actors who worked without a monitor. Nowadays, you can act in a single shot, straightaway walk to the monitor and if you are not happy, you can ask for a retake. Of course, the director will let you do it. Back then, you act till the director says ok; you will have to wait till the dubbing sessions to see what you have done. By then, it will be too late as you can’t go back and change. I know the last movie shot using film in Malayalam is mine, the first movie shot in digital in Malayalam is mine. I am glad that I lived through this phase, experienced it, learned from it and that’s exciting for me.