Prithviraj Sukumaran on His Role in Salaar, a K.G.F. film directed by Prashanth Neel and starring Prabhas (EXCLUSIVE)

Prithviraj Sukumaran on His Role in Salaar, a K.G.F. film directed by Prashanth Neel and starring Prabhas (EXCLUSIVE)

South Indian movie The cast of "Salaar," starring Prabhas (of the Baahubali franchise), and directed by Prashanth Neel, includes A-lister Prithviraj Sukumaran (the K.G.F. franchise).

Sukumaran was asked for the role more than 18 months ago, but due to filming in Jordan and Algeria for Blessy's pandemic-delayed epic opus "Aadu Jeevitham," he almost was unable to take the job. Fortunately, "Salaar" was also delayed, so the dates finally coincided. In September, Sukumaran started filming the movie.
"Salaar" would be a no-brainer for anyone to accept for a number of reasons, including the fact that it is a Prashanth Neel picture, a Hombale Films [the K.G.F. franchise] production, and it is Prabhas' feature, according to Sukumaran, who spoke to Variety. It marks Prabhas' long-overdue return to mainstream commercial cinema. After "Saaho," his films have veered slightly from the mass action subgenre.

Sukumaran claims that a significant portion of "Salaar" centres on Prabhas and his own character, Vardharaja Mannaar, however he is unable to provide many specifics.

Sukumaran claims that the relationship between Prabhas' character and mine is important to the plot. "I consider it a privilege that a person like Prashanth Neel after 'K.G.F: Chapter 2' [the third highest grossing movie in Indian cinema history] decided it was worthwhile waiting for me to be able to join the movie. And I'm delighted I ultimately decided to say yes to it because after a few days of filming, I believe it might just be one of those truly epic cinematic experiences. So, as an actor and a movie fan, I'm particularly looking forward to "Salaar."

Sukumaran, a leading man with over 120 credits, predominantly works in Kerala, a state in southern India, in the Malayalam film industry. Except for a brief hiccup in the early 2000s, the industry is renowned for routinely producing top-notch work. With his production and distribution firm Prithviraj Productions, which he co-owns with his wife Supriya Menon, Sukumaran is at the forefront of it.

"Malayalam cinema just produces films; we do not put together 'projects. We did go through a phase in the early 2000s where we put together projects," admits Sukumaran, adding that at that time, producers would attach an actor, then a director, and then look for a topic that suited their individual strengths rather than a film developing naturally from the minds of writers and directors.

"Neither our financial resources nor our breadth are comparable to those of other sectors. We don't have as large of an audience as other sectors. Therefore, the only way we can compete in the big picture is to provide unique, fresh, good, and entertaining material," said Sukumaran. "That dawning understanding came upon us, and I feel that is one of the driving causes behind Malayalam cinema experiencing a new so-called renaissance."

One of the best instances of this daring new material can be seen in Sukumaran's decision to play a gay role in "Mumbai Police" in 2013, an unorthodox choice for a well-known actor in Indian film. Sukumaran claims that the Bobby-Sanjay writing team and director Rosshan Andrews "gently" approached him with this crucial plot surprise for the neo-noir movie.

"When I performed in "Mumbai Police," I took a huge leap of faith as an actor and trusted the Keralan audience. And my faith in them was rewarded," claims Sukumaran. "'Mumbai Police' is only noteworthy as a movie because it actually happened back then. And it occurred with a person who the public would believe to be a relatively large star and because it defied the accepted stereotype of what a gay man should look like in movies. Together, these factors are what gave that movie its surprising originality at the time.

Sukumaran has a slew of initiatives in various capacities coming up. While "Aadu Jeevitham" is in post-production and aiming for a major film festival slot in 2023, "Salaar," a film starring, is scheduled for a release on September 28, 2023. In the near future, Alphonse Puthren's drama "Gold" (from "Premam") will be released, while Shaji Kailas' criminal thriller "Kaapa," which was made to generate money for the Writers' Union of Kerala, has recently finished production. The unfulfilled desire of the late writer-director Sachy ("Driving Licence," "Ayyappanum Koshiyum"), drama "Vilayath Budha," will now begin.

The actor made his Bollywood debut in the 2012 film "Aiyyaa," and he later appeared in the 2013 films "Aurangzeb" and "Naam Shabana" (2017). In 2023, he will make a comeback to the business with an unnamed project that has already received approval.

The follow-up to Sukumaran's 2019 directorial debut "Lucifer," "L2: Empuraan," has been scripted and will shoot in the middle of 2023.

A remake of Sukumaran's "Driving License," "Selfiee," starring Akshay Kumar, is scheduled for release in February 2023 as a producer. As a distributor, the Malayalam version of Rishab Shetty's Kannada-language hit "Kantara" will debut the following week. A series on the biscuit tycoon Rajan Pillai that will star Sukumaran and be directed by him is now in the planning stages for streaming.

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