Morbid tragedies mark Tamil director Bala’s films.
Right from his debut film Sethu (1999) to his 2016 film Tharai Thappatai, his stories leave audiences with a heavy heart.
But then Bala is not a crowd-pleaser. That he dared to make his first film Sethu about lovers not uniting, when happily ever after was the norm, shows his inclination to not fit a template.
His characters are original and defy the glamour world of cinema.
Most of his films have received accolades — Sethu won an Indian National Film award, Tamil Nadu State Award and Filmfare award; Pithamagan won a Indian National Film award; Naan Kadavul also another Indian National Film award; and Paradesi the SIIMA and Filmfare awards.
While Bala’s last film Tharai Thappattai did not have much appeal, his upcoming film Naachiyaar is eagerly awaited.
Naachiyaar first intrigued film buffs with its teaser showing a barely recognisable G.V. Prakash sporting brown, unruly hair and a tanned look. Spiking further curiosity came the trailer showing Jyotika in the role of a policewoman uttering a cuss word. Naachiyaar is Jyotika’s third release after her comeback.
Director Bala never gives interviews. He lets his films do the talking.
Gulf News tabloid! caught up with Prakash, who was recovering after a bout of fever.
Prakash, who is now busy as an actor with back-to-back film projects, is smoothly juggling between his acting and composing careers.
“I work every day,” he said. “I don’t get stuck in one and can slide easily from acting to making music. The answer lies in my passion for cinema.”
Acting is a new field that he has been exploring since his first film Darling (2015).
It is music that runs in his genes. His mother A.R. Reihana is a music director. Not to forget, that it was his maternal uncle A.R. Rahman who made him sing a song for Tamil film Gentleman. Prakash was only four and a half years old then. He can’t recall any memories of that first experience though.
“I was too young to understand what was going on,” he said.
Tamil film Veyil pushed him into the spotlight as a composer. Since then Prakash has been delivering remarkable music. Some have fetched him awards including the 2013 MTV VMAI Award for Best Regional Music Video for the song Uyirin Uyire from Tamil film Thaandavam.
So when he received a call from Bala’s office, he presumed it was for a music composition, having worked on Bala’s Paradesi earlier.
He was taken aback when he was offered a role in Naachiyaar.
Prakash plays fruit seller Kaathu in Naachiyaar. New find Ivana is paired opposite him.
Getting his look right for the character was the first step. Indian National Award-winning make-up artist Pattanam Rasheed from Kerala worked on Prakash’s skin and hair.
“Kaathu is someone you see on the streets — he belongs to the lower class of society. What happens in his life and how it changes is the story. This is completely different from my previous characters,” added Prakash.
On director Bala’s sets, work begins punctually at 7.30am and is wrapped up at 6pm. There is total silence.
“Bala sir feeds his actors with inputs about their characters and prepares you well to get into the mood. You don’t even realise it then. The character is his and the body is mine to deliver his vision. Being an emotional person I could connect with Bala’s sir image of the character,” Prakash said.
Some shots were approved on the first take. If a shot did not satisfy the director, he guided Prakash and put him on the right track.
Prakash is excited and waiting for Naachiyaar’s release.
His best career moment was scoring music for Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wassepur.
Kashyap called him after watching the trailer of Naachiyaar.
“Anurag was impressed with it and my looks. I look forward to working with him again,” he said.
Naachiyaar releases in the UAE on February 15.