Prithviraj on Nine, his debut directorial Lucifer, and calling the shots for Mohanlal, Manju Warrier
Prithviraj opens up about producing Nine, wielding the megaphone for the first time in Lucifer, and what it's like to call the shots for Malayalam superstar Mohanlal.
2019 is going to be a significant year for Prithviraj as his first production venture, 9, co-produced by Sony Pictures, has hit cinemas on 7 February and his debut directorial Lucifer is also gearing up for release soon. Written and directed by Jenuse Mohamed, 9 is a sci-fi horror film and marks the first Indian regional production of Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc.
In a chat with FirstPost, Prithviraj opened up about Nine and wielding the megaphone for the first time in Lucifer, and what it's like to call the shots for Malayalam superstar Mohanlal. "After I started my production house for independent films, I was constantly on the lookout for unique scripts for the debut. Supriya (Prithviraj's wife) and I used to brainstorm about experimenting new genres and finally zeroed in on Nine through our Prithviraj Productions. The film is based on a father-son relationship, but it can't be categorised as a simple story about a relationship in spite of the linear narrative," Prithviraj told FirstPost.
Nine, which also stars Wamiqa Gabbi, Mamta Mohandas and Prakash Raj in pivotal roles, has opened to good reviews from critics. "In Nine, there are elements like science fiction, horror, love, mystery and the experience of a thriller with emotional ups and downs all together. Initially, Sony Pictures was not a part of this production and all of a sudden, things fell in place after a meeting with corporate in Mumbai. With the backing of an international company, it was easy to get the much-needed visibility for this project," he said.
Ask him what made an international studio like Sony to foray into the regional industry, Prithviraj said, "Sony Pictures India wanted their presence in local cinema and Nine is their first regional film. During my stay in Mumbai, I met with Vivek Krishnani — the managing director of Sony Pictures Entertainment India. He expressed his wish to step foot into regional cinema, but they needed stories that stand out. They needed someone to partner with who can take the on-ground responsibility because right now they have no idea about the industry practices here in South. He also told about the few ideas he got from the Tamil and Telugu industry," Prithviraj explained.
He further added: "When I told him the story of Nine, he was super excited, and immediately they flew our team to Mumbai for a full narration session. And from there, things moved swiftly. It's easy-peasy for an entertainment giant like Sony Pictures to produce a film with a huge budget. But choosing the Malayalam industry for their first project is an endorsement for our industry and movies."
Malayalam cinema has been consistently churning out content-driven projects, and gradually, it has now received the acceptance of other regional film lovers, thanks to the emergence of English subtitles, which has become a regular norm now. Talking about the rise of Malayalam films, Prithviraj said, "I've always believed that the Malayalam cinema's biggest challenge is its inability to cross borders. Despite boasting the biggest talent pool, the fact that the entire industry operates in a small part of the state is undeniable. We need to now pull up our socks and explore avenues like streaming platforms to take our films to more audiences."
As our conversation veers towards Prithviraj's much-awaited debut directorial Lucifer, which stars Mohanlal as the lead, he says, "Like how I'm lucky with my debut production, it applies to my debut direction as well. Lucifer has the necessary hype needed because it's the first time a mainstay actor is directing another legend. Murali Gopy had this idea with Mohanlal sir as the lead, and he asked me if I would direct it. It was a dream-come-true moment when my producer informed me that Mohanlal sir had agreed to play the role."
"Directing Lucifer is a great delight because I got to direct legends like Lal sir and Manju Warrier and had a producer who thoroughly believed in my vision," said Prithviraj on a concluding note.
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