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September 23 2018
I taught Salman Tamil, says Prabhu Deva
21 August 2018

Prabhu Deva talks about Lakshmi, a script that was tailor-made for him, his evolution as an actor and director in the past 25 years

You don’t look a day older than you did in Shankar’s Gentleman, which, by the way, completed 25 years last month. Did the song ‘Chikku Bukku Raile’ accelerate your career as an actor?

Absolutely. But prior to that, I had got a lot of mileage from songs which featured me in Agni Natchathiram (‘Raja Rajadhirajan’), Idhayam (‘April Mayilae’) Walter Vetrivel (‘Chinna Raasave’) and Sooriyan (‘Lalakku Dol Dappi Ma’). But this particular song was a sensation. One of the reasons behind this was it had coincided with the launch of satellite TV, which took it to a wider audience even outside the country. The magic of Rahman’s music, Jeeva’s cinematography and Shankar’s ideas popularised the song. Even today, during my foreign tours, I begin my show with ‘Oorvasi’ and end with ‘Chikku Bukku’.

 

I taught Salman Tamil, says Prabhu Deva

Was the song one of the reasons you were cast as the lead in Kaadhalan?

Shankar was the associate director of Pavithran who directed Sooriyan. Shankar had been closely observing me during the shoot, but I was unaware of it. He later roped me in for ‘Chikku Bukku’ and also cast me as the hero of his second film, Kaadhalan. When I was building my career as a choreographer, acting just happened. Pavithran cast me as one of the heroes in Indhu, which marked my début as actor. This was followed by Kaadhalan.

Choreographer, actor, director, producer — you don many hats. Where does your identity lie?

I may be multi-tasking, but choreography and direction are closest to my heart. It is not easy for a dancer to be accepted as an actor. But I worked my way up through hard work and by God’s grace. It is after many, many years and films that people have accepted me. And this acceptance came to be only after I proved my mettle as a director.

 

Dancing star (Clockwise from top left) A still from Gentleman , stills from Lakshmi

Dancing star (Clockwise from top left) A still from Gentleman , stills from Lakshmi  

How did Lakshmi happen? Was it tailor-made for you?

After Devi, Vijay and I planned for a sequel with the same title, but when Vijay suggested a dance film and came up with a storyline, I got hooked instantly. The film was written for me and I play my age in the role of a choreographer. Lakshmi is a dance film, a musical that deals with the emotional bond between the guru and his sishya.

From the trailer, the film looks like it’s about a dance competition. What are your thoughts about exposing children to reality shows?

Reality shows have advantages and disadvantages. It is up to parents to decide for their children. Every kid has a smartphone and it is the parents who get it for them, knowing well the effects it has on them. They know what’s good for their children. I see it as a platform to spot talent. If not for such a show, we would not have found an immensely talented dancer like Ditya Bande, who plays the titular role in Lakshmi. As a parent, I tell my boys to keep away their smartphones and go outdoors and play. I take them to our farm where my father does a bit of farming, where they get their hands dirty. It is their digital detox.

 

I taught Salman Tamil, says Prabhu Deva

Tell us more about Ditya.

Ditya vera level. Kitte nikka kooda mudiyathu (I can’t measure up to her). I’m nowhere near her to compete with her. She is a gifted dancer with a unique talent and superb attitude. She is 12 years old and had started learning dance at the age of three. She is a winner. When you watch the film, you will end up liking her more. It is her film.

What is Lakshmi about?

It is a highly emotional film. It deals with various dimensions of emotions in relationships, be it between mother and daughter or teacher and student. Lakshmi will be one of the best films of Vijay. It is a bi-lingual, being made in Tamil and Telugu.

How do you like working with child artistes?

More than me it was Vijay who handled that task. He has a knack of dealing with all the 12 kids who acted in the film; they bonded so well with him. None of them knew Tamil, and preparing them for a shoot is not an easy task, and yet he managed it all so well. Hats off to Vijay. I think he has the right temperament to handle kids. Strangely, the children were disciplined and well-behaved when I was around.

What about your co-stars in the film?

I did not have many combination scenes with Aishwarya Rajesh, but I had observed her performance. She is a brilliant artiste, who acts effortlessly. Kovai Sarala, needless to say, is fantastic in executing comic roles. If fact when I saw the film, I told Vijay that we need more scenes with her. But Vijay said, “if you think you need more, that means it is just enough”. Salman Yusuff Khan, a newcomer, plays the antagonist.

 

I taught Salman Tamil, says Prabhu Deva

There’s news that you are directing Dabangg 3.

The shooting begins in January. Salman Khan and Sonakshi will play the lead role and I have roped in another female newcomer to be launched in the film. I’m currently shooting for Charlie Chaplin 2 and Pon Manickavel. In Pon..., I am playing a cop role for the first time.

Have your started speaking Hindi?

Ayyo enakku Hindi varave illa.They all learn Tamil from me. Salman rombo nalla Tamil pesraar.

 

 

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