Parents taught me to handle failure

Parents taught me to handle failure

Prajwal Devaraj, who plays a man suffering from ‘sleeping beauty syndrome’ in Gentleman, on how he is back in form

We launched the trailer of ‘Gentleman’ on social media on January 6. The film hits screens this month-end. After ‘Chowka’, this is the first film that has challenged the performer in me.

I have come a long way since I was 18. I was in my undergraduate course at CMS Jain College when director Shashank offered me a role. My father declined the offer on my behalf, saying I was too young. He wanted me to focus on academics and he didn’t want films to get in the way.

Shashank went back disappointed but returned six months later with another script. My father wasn’t too keen even then, but Shashank insisted we listen to the story. I loved it and it seemed perfect for a debut. After much persuasion, my father agreed.

The film was called ‘Sixer’. My father didn’t come to see the shooting. When the film was released, he didn’t speak a word during the interval. When the film ended, he kissed me on the forehead and said, “Son, you are now an actor.”

These words still ring in my ear. Thereafter, my studies and acting went hand in hand. I worked hard and did justice to both. There were plenty of offers after that. I was not even 20 when Harsha’s debut directorial ‘Galeya’ came my way. The film did well.

I didn’t take any acting lessons because I grew up on the sets. My parents were at the peak of their acting careers when I began acting. My father has always been my inspiration. I was fascinated by the glamour and fame cinema brought along, but as I grew up, that gave way to a more mature understanding of the art. I fell in love with cinema and understood why it requires dedication and commitment. I understood acting is serious business. As an actor I try to put my best into every character. When I listen to the script, I start imagining the character and try to give it a unique flavour. 

Success came early

Success in films came to me when I was young. My parents taught me how to handle both success and failure. They would always tell me it was important to be a good human being first before being a star.  They taught me to stay modest and grounded. While the success was easy to handle, I would be disappointed when my films didn’t do well. But as time went by, I understood how to take both success and failure in my stride.

I have always been careful about choosing my projects. There was a phase when I slowed down. I did that because I thought I should give newcomers a chance to come up. In the bargain, I lost good projects. I was not happy with the kind of projects coming my way. But I bounced back sooner than I thought I would, and began working again. I have good scripts in hand now.

Break did a lot of good 

The break did a lot of good to me. I began writing scripts and managed to complete three or four. Many ask if I would direct a film some day. I don’t rule it out. I am keen on direction but I am also aware of the huge responsibilities that come with it. I would like to learn more about the screenplay and the camera before I take the plunge. Till then I am happy being an actor.

I have always just a handful of friends. My best buddy is perhaps my brother Pranam. We are six years apart but I’ve spent considerable time with him. There are no secrets between us. In fact, on my first date with Ragini (now my wife), I took Pranam along. And Ragini still jokes about it.

I believe the Kannada film industry is in its best phase right now. Good films are being made and new directors are coming in. ‘Gentleman’ has all the qualities of a good commercial film and the director has ensured it is as close to reality as possible. This mix is what we now get to see in a lot of new-age Kannada films. 
(Prajwal is an actor and producer)  


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