Prashant Narayanan: The Indian idol in cinema is Lord Shiva

A known face on TV and in independent cinema, this angst-laden actor talks about his choice of films, commercial and offbeat Indian cinema, et al

Have you ever heard anyone in Bollywood say “The Indian idol for me in cinema is Lord Shiva and the international one is Jesus Christ.” Read more to delve into the mind of this actor.

From Chhal to Yeh Saali Zindagi and Bhindi Baazaar… how would you describe your journey as an actor?

It has been a pretty strange and rewarding journey, especially to somebody who did not have any acting aspirations in his head in the first place. Before Chhal I have done more than eight years of prime television work with the best of the industry (Parivartan, Farz, Gatha, Kabhi Kabhie, Jaane Kaha Jigar Gaya Ji, Shagun, etc). Chhal also was nothing new to me, the only difference was that it was shot with a film camera instead of a television one. My journey is still on and I intend to work with all the people that I actually want to work with.

It seems that films have chosen you rather than the other way round…

I feel proud of the fact that most of the films that I have done have had people who don’t have any idea of how to replace me, because they all have written roles keeping me in mind. I have no replacement and I am proud of it. I don’t think too many people have this privilege.

Two of your offbeat films are up for release… when do you snap out of the roles you take on?

There is nothing offbeat or on-beat, my friend. Paise ho tho koi bhi c**%$* film on-beat ho jaata hai, paise nahi hai tho voh ho jaata hai offbeat. (Read: If you have the money any stupid film becomes a commercial film, without money it is conveniently called offbeat). Yeh Saali Zindagi and Bhindi Baazaar are as commercial as any other so-called ‘commercial’ films are, and I am looking forward to it with as much excitement as I look forward to watching my cameo appearance in Phulwa… For me, everything is my own, so as soon as the pack up call gets announced, I go to my van and go back anonymously home and forget about it, and let people talk about it. I can’t do good work and talk about it at the same time. People who talk are people who can only talk.

People who are mediocre basically are people who are looking out to make a fast buck in a publicity blitz that they create, as and when their movies are releasing; they are only thinking about making a fast buck and I am too rich in my head to worry about doing trashy stuff like that. I don’t know whether any of these stars would even want to watch their highly publicised work after, say, six months.

After all these years, do you think you have explored the ‘actor’ within?

These are all words which are used by people who have a lot of time in their heads about exploring and method acting and all that crap. I go to a set and with full honesty listen to the director and, as I am ready with the script in my head, we don’t waste too much time and quickly do our work and go home. I would explore new ways of cooking sambhar!

Is there any particular role that you are most fond and / or proud of?

I am proud of all the roles that I have done and I am not fond of any role because each one of them has left me sleepless in the night, worked up, and each one has made me feel that I am still inadequate… I don’t understand how people can say that ‘we had so much fun on the set’. I think that’s really a stupid statement to think and make, as you are doing all this because somebody else’s money is involved. I am a producer’s actor and I fully support his cause and I would rather have fun with my own money than with anybody else’s.

Is Indian cinema ready for the kind of films you endorse?

I only endorse good sportsmanship, dedication, honesty and sincerity in craft… I am not out to endorse anything else. An unreleased film is a British one directed by Kaizad Gustad called Bombil and Beatrice. I am sad about it not releasing, as a lot of people would have then realised what actually a double role means… Another is The White Elephant directed by Aijaz Khan. I shot that movie with a fractured ankle and a ligament tear thinking that it is Aijaz’s first film and they promised me a release the same year and under that pressure I shot that movie without taking the two months rest that you have to do. I am really contemplating suing the producers and everybody involved in it, just to jolt them from their stupid slumber.. .The third is Peter Gaya Kaam Se, directed by John Owen. Unfortunate that a big company like UTV Spotboy is not able to release it when they have released so many others. Indian cinema is something that keeps changing every week, and is influenced every time that a star decides to flaunt his so called ‘talent’ because the producer knows that apart from his acting skills he also has the power to cheat a lot of people who will flock the theatres. If Indian cinema is ready for shit, its ready for good things also, but sadly that is decided by a handful of people.

The future of Indian cinema vis-à-vis Sajid Khan and Vishal Bhardwaj films co-existing…

That’s the large heartedness of the Indian audience, which makes both these type of people survive. Both are making movies based on some other films or some adaptations and it is rather amazing how they all get away with copying. Sajid is a good comedian and Vishal is a fantastic composer. Period.

Your idols in cinema (national & international)

The Indian idol in cinema is Lord Shiva and the international one is Jesus Christ.

Do you plan to get into direction?

Of course, as soon as I finish doing some 50 more interesting movies! All that I am interested in is to make the most exciting DVD collection that any other Indian actor would have in his resume.