Tuesday, June 18, 2024

‘Purusha Pretham’ is now a benchmark in my career, says Malayalam actor Prasanth Alexander

Krishand’s police procedural comedy, Purusha Pretham, is getting immense love from the audience, with the cast, especially the protagonist Prasanth Alexander, garnering lavish praise. Prasanth excels as sub-inspector Sebastian, a.k.a. Super Sebastian, the policeman who boasts of his heroism and throws his weight around, even when he has many personal issues to handle.

It is hard-earned recognition for the actor who has been in the industry for over 20 years. Prasanth is also a co-producer of the film, a first for him. In a chat with MetroPlus over phone from Thiruvalla, his hometown, Prasanth speaks about the breakout role and his journey. Excerpts:

Breakout role

There is relief and happiness over getting recognised after so many years. People are messaging me about even those roles that were not significant. I did not realise that I have so many well-wishers who hoped that I would get a path-breaking role some day. At the same time, I am nervous because Purusha Pretham is now a benchmark in my career and I am worried about what I should do next. There is no one to guide me and my future in the industry depends on the decisions I take.

However, I am savouring the moment and it is the excitement of my family that thrills me the most. Now when I mention that I play the central character in the film, my wife corrects me saying, ‘you are the hero’.

Association with Krishand

I was acting in a web series directed by our common friend and he happened to be there on the location. Once a rapport was struck, he asked if I could do this small role of a police officer in his debut movie, Vrithakrithiyilulla Chathuram (2019). I had no second thoughts about it. A few days into the shoot, he told me the story of Purusha Pretham and this character, Sebastian, who is an extended version of the police officer in Vrithakrithi… Thus the role has been with me since 2018.

Prasanth Alexander in Purusha Pretham

Prasanth Alexander in Purusha Pretham
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Krishand gives you the perfect space and ambience to perform. Being in his film is a learning experience as well. People talk about him being an intellectual filmmaker and assume that it might be difficult for us to follow his thought process. But, the fact is he communicates exactly what he wants in each scene and clears our doubts. It is just that his understanding of cinema is different from ours.

Of course, having worked in commercial cinema for many years many of us had doubts about certain sequences. But eventually we trusted Krishand the filmmaker and there was no confusion.

Becoming Sebastian

I trusted Krishand completely. The film has been in the works for long and each time we sat down for a discussion, he would read the full script, in his Thiruvananthapuram dialect. Prior to the shoot, there were discussions about the dialect I should use. He asked me to speak in my own Central Travancore dialect. So I had to speak the dialogues in the Thiruvalla dialect without losing out on the humour.

However, there were a couple of instances when I felt unsure. One is the opening scene where I brag about my courage to my colleagues. Since I am an actor with no fan base and this is my first film in the main role, I was worried about going overboard. But circumstances were such that we shot the second half first, where my character is already caught in a difficult situation and is trying to get out of it. That made it easy for me to shoot the opening scenes.

Krishand with Prasanth Alexander on the location of Purusha Pretham

Krishand with Prasanth Alexander on the location of Purusha Pretham
| Photo Credit:
Kiran VS

Another tough scene was the one where the character is trying to stop himself from crying when he has to take care of his wheel chair-bound mother. His ego does not allow him to do so. It was Krishand who showed me how to get that right.

Looking back on his career

I don’t have a cinema background – my father is a priest and mother, a teacher. But I was desperate to get into the industry. I was a mimic from my school days. While doing my post graduation in media communication and management, Asianet team had come to our college to cover a food festival. They needed two anchors for the coverage and I ensured that I was one of them. Later I got into anchoring television shows and eventually got my first movie, Nammal (2002).

Prasanth Alexander

Prasanth Alexander
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

My belief was that if my work is good, offers would naturally come to me. That’s what I expected after I did films such as Achanurangatha Veedu (2006) and Ordinary (2012). But I didn’t get significant roles. So, after I got appreciated for my role [as politician Jose Pottakkuzhy] in Abrid Shine’s Action Hero Biju, I started approaching directors and producers for roles and that worked. Thus it took me years to realise that there is no guarantee that opportunities come on their own even if your work is good. We have to make an effort as well. Later a role in Madhura Raja [2019, as politician VK Cleetus] got noticed and people did talk about my ‘dance’ with Sunny Leone! After Operation Java(2021), I started getting considered for meaty roles.

Sharing screen with Jagadish and Darshana

I had a blast with Jagadish chettan in our combination scenes. We improvised the dialogues. He can come up with humour that works logically.

As for Darshana, I contacted her after the actor who was finalised for the role backed out a week prior to the shoot. I had not interacted with her before, even then I decided to give a try. Being a top-rated actor, I was not sure if she would be okay with working in a movie in which I was playing the lead. But she said she had no such reservations and was looking forward to work with Krishand. Once she was in, she became one among us and the scenes went off so well, especially the confrontation between us in the climax. After the movie was released, she called me up and said, ‘After watching a movie, sometimes you wish a particular actor had more screen time and you are one among them.’ I was in tears when she said that.

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