Malayalam superstar Prithviraj, who will roll out his new film ‘Driving Licence’ on December 26 in UAE cinemas, describes 2019 as a significant year in his life.
“I should rate it as one of the most important, influential years of my career,” Prithviraj told Gulf News tabloid! in a phone interview.
“It’s the year that I realised a long-time dream of mine of turning into a director … As an actor, I am proud to have started off with an unconventional film like ‘9’ and as a distributor I managed to bring in an international studio like Sony Pictures to Malayalam films … This is the year that I have branched out more than ever. I have directed, produced and distributed films,” Prithviraj said.
‘Driving License’ is a tale of a popular actor Hareendran (Prithviraj) trying to secure a driving permit swiftly and how he manages to tick off a diehard fan and vehicle inspector, played by actor Suraj Venjaramoodu. This is his second home production and is one of the last Malayalam films to be released this year.
The trailer makes you wonder if the actor plays himself in his new film, but Prithviraj is quick to clarify any such misconceptions.
"It's not me"
“‘Driving Licence’ is not about me. It’s about two fictional characters … I play a superstar who is in the public eye. When you give shape and life to such a character, you try to construct a pattern for that character that will easily resonate with somebody watching the character,” he said.
The actor claims the character Hareendran wasn’t written for him originally.
“It was written for Mr Mammootty,” said Prithiviraj, referring to one of Malayalam cinema’s longest enduring superstars whose appeal and arrogance is notorious.
“Actually all these qualities about the character is how Mammootty is perceived … Since the first choice was Mr Mammootty, I think the writer would have drawn a lot from the perceptions about him,” said Prithviraj, adding that he shared his character Hareendran’s craze for cars and driving. Prithviraj is a motor head and is the proud owner of a fleet of luxury cars.
But the movie isn’t about swanky cars alone. It explores the tenuous relationship between a superstar and his ardent fan. ‘Driving Licence’ is also a film that adds to Malayalam cinema’s rich history of making films about ordinary subjects with an extraordinary flair. For instance, 2019 was all about movies that took a strand from an ordinary person’s life and turned it into a riveting piece of cinema and commentary. The award-winning slice-of-life blockbuster ‘Kumbalangi Nights’ and survivor thriller ‘Helen’ are fine examples of such delightful films.
“Malayalam cinema is lucky to have such young, intelligent writers who can pick up a small incident and construct a tale around him … There’s a new generation of writers now who are very different from each other. They can spin a tale on the dinner table conversation you had last night,” said Prithviraj, adding that solid writing is the spine of any good film.
Written by Sachi, ‘Driving Licence’ directed by Lal Jr aims to be portrait of that acidic wit and humour popular among Malayalis.
“There is Sachi who has this superb knack of taking on Malayali cynicism that we are famous for and putting a funny spin on it … Lots of our humour is based on sarcasm and cynicism. It’s deep rooted within us,” the actor said.
‘Driving Licence’, which has opened to positive reviews in Kerala after its release on December 20, further strengthens Prithviraj’s foothold in the industry. He will begin work on ‘Lucifer’s’ sequel ‘Empuraan’ after he finishes shooting for a film written by Murali Gopy and directed by Rathish Ambat. He compares Gopy’s process to rain formation. ‘Empuraan’s’ script is written by the same talent.
“Murali’s writing process from pen to paper is short. He will only take a week. But it’s his discussions that take a long time. He rightly compared his process of writing to the process of rain forming,” Prithviraj said. “The rain may last only an hour, but clouds gather, there’s moisture in the air and that process started more than a year. Rain is just the tipping point and that’s what makes his writing great.”
Don’t miss it!
‘Driving Licence’ is out in the UAE cinemas on December 26.
“I have used my privilege as a star hundreds of times … To cut a line or to go straight through the check-in at the airport,” said Prithviraj, adding that their presence could create chaos in a public place.