Actor, producer and director Prithviraj Sukumaran speaks to Vivek Ranjit about his career, co-stars and the kind of music and movies that appeal to him. Excerpts:
In your career spanning more than a decade-and-a-half, you've been a fantastic actor, great singer, superstar, producer and director. How do you see the current phase of your career?
I could rate this as my best phase so far, not for the fact that I've grown in stature as an actor, or for the fact that I'm charging so much for a film, but for the fact that I have enough space where I have enough clout within the industry to pick a script that I like and make sure that it is being made the way it should be. I'm in a position where I can facilitate my own projects, and I really enjoy that. To be frank, I don't want the next phase; this is the phase I want to be in forever. As long as I'm in cinema, if I can continue doing what I'm doing right now, I'm happy.
You got here pretty early…
Yeah, it's a great place to be when you're in your 30s, and you are already doing your 100th film, and now you have that wealth of experience to implement it in practice. That's a great place to be in, and, in that sense, I'm a very lucky actor.
Most of the young actors in Malayalam cinema are two or three years younger to you, but you're almost 10 years senior to them in the industry. How do you see them? You've already worked with Asif Ali and Nivin Pauly. There are others like Dulquer Salmaan and Fahadh Faasil. Do you watch their films, like their work?
Yeah I like all of them. All of them are talented, which is why they're here, obviously. I envy them for the fact that they probably came at a much more healthier time in Malayalam cinema, but I also have to credit their success to the kind of efforts they've put in, and the sheer attitude that they carry with them towards cinema. Like you said, I've only worked with Nivin and Asif, and both of them are talented in their own way. I've seen films of Dulquer and Fahadh, and both of them are talented actors in their own ways. It's great that there's young talent in Malayalam now and it's great that there's a young talent that's got a cosmopolitan appeal. I believe that's the way Malayalam cinema can grow — ultimately it will have to grow through its actors, and the younger crop that we have currently, I truly think has the potential to do that.
What do you do when you're not working? What films have you watched? What are your recent favourites?
I wish I had a lot of time when I was not working, to be very frank. Basically, there are only two kinds of films for me — good and bad. As long as the film is true to what it's trying to achieve, and it achieves that, it's a good film. I love a film like Dabangg, I love it because it's very true to what it's trying to do and it's done that successfully, and I love Ship of Theseus, because again, it's very true to what it's trying to do, and it's done that. Both of these are good films, I enjoy them. Then, there are these bad films none of us enjoys.
What kind of music do you listen to?
Pretty much everything. Only the two genres that I've not been able to make head or tail of is heavy metal and old Western country. I really don't know what to make of the former. I know, it's got a humongous fan following all over the world, but it sounds like a series of sounds to me. Old western country is just not my thing. Everything else appeals to me.