Prithviraj’s next film Kuruthi gets a direct OTT release on Amazon Prime Video on August 11. He’s also directing Mohanlal again in Bro Daddy and Empuraan which is the second film in the Lucifer trilogy. He talks about a potential Hindi spinoff of Lucifer as an eight-part miniseries, how Lucifer was originally conceived as a three-part web series, and why it’s impossible to get two identical takes from Mohanlal, in this interview with Anupama Chopra. Edited Excerpts…
You’re directing Mohanlal in Bro Daddy and you’ve also made the very successful Lucifer with him. Let’s say you’re on set and the mighty Mohanlal gives you a shot that you’re not happy with. How do you walk up to him and tell him that?
The easiest actor to correct is Mr. Mohanlal. You wouldn’t believe it if you came down and saw the shoot for a day. I really want people to actually see this. We’re not just friends. He’s a brother and a mentor to me. We live in the same building and see a lot of each other. We’d be having a cup of coffee, cracking jokes, and he’d call me mone, that is ‘son’. When the assistant says that the shot is ready, he walks into the shot, stands in front of the camera, and suddenly calls me ‘sir’. It’s not a put on. It happens to him at a subconscious level.
When I go up to correct him, he addresses me as ‘sir’. He would do twenty takes without a problem. But after he walks out of the field, it becomes ‘mone’ again. It’s amazing to watch that man work. And of course, he’s very very good. He’s got this deep-rooted gift of comprehending things very differently. I’m realizing this more in Bro Daddy because Lucifer was all about keeping the performance under the radar a bit. In Bro Daddy, I let him a little loose.
When you’re directing Mohanlal is there a part of you that’s observing him as an actor?
All you can learn from another actor are the processes. But you also need to understand that they might not work for you. I did a film called Koode with Anjali [Menon] which also had Nazriya [Nazim] and Parvathy. Nazriya and I used to crack jokes and bug the crap out of Anjali before an emotional scene. That was our process. We prefer to disconnect from the moment and then get into it. Parvathy is absolutely brilliant but she needs to stay in the mood. We have a different process.
I think Mohanlal sir likes to be detached from the whole thing. When you say ‘action’ he comes in and performs. So, I usually don’t rehearse with him. It’s impossible to do two takes with him because he does it at a level where he doesn’t realize what’s happening. Lots of people told me that in Lucifer the focus has gone wrong in many places. I know that, because I’ve retained takes where he’s so good but the focus has gone wrong. He’s given me something else when I asked him for another take.
You conceived Lucifer as a trilogy. Are you designing it while you’re waiting for the world to open up? Where are you at with it?
My writer Murali Gopy designed it and I was part of developing it. The film itself was initially conceived as a series. I’m going to break the news to you exclusively: there are discussions about making Lucifer as an 8-episode miniseries in Hindi. The challenge is for me to find the time. I’m happy with someone else making the film but they’re not. So, let’s see.
Right from the beginning, we knew the story arc from the beginning till the end of the third part. Initially, we planned it as a three-part streaming series. We then made a feature film, Lucifer, out of the first season. Now, we’ve decided to make feature films with the original material from season two and three.