Prakash Jayaram is prolific, helming films across genres, including Khushi, Rishi, Shree, Vamshi, Gokula and Siddharta. Most famous among them has been his film Milana, his first ever love story and he is still known as ‘Milana Prakash’.
With Prakash at the helm, you can always expect an ‘all-round entertainer’, a formula that he has followed right from his first film. His next, Tarak starring Darshan, Sruthi Hariharan and Shanvi Srivastava, the director says will be his first attempt at a full-on family entertainer that also touches on love.
“I want to do a film that a family can watch together. The idea is not to sell two tickets, but ten,” he says. “In India, people still love to sit and watch a film together. Others may think of it as business but to me filmmaking about getting the whole family to theatres. In Tarak too there will be something for everyone,” says Jayaram, who does not draw any line between single-screen and multiplex audiences. “I always tried to woo both the audiences and I have achieved a fair amount of success,” he says.
This director is often seen as aloof, preferring to stay away from the crowds. “Though my father was a producer, we were not often exposed to the cinema world,” he says. “As a child, the only few visitors we had and the ones we visited included Anant Nag and Shankar Nag and Darshan’s father Thoogudeepa Srinivas. My father was a private man and I follow his example. If work didn’t require it, I would keep away from all the attention or limelight, these are not required. I would like to pass through life unrecognised otherwise.”
Prakash is working with a star like Darshan for Tarak, but that does not make the job any easier for the director. “Script is what drives the film’s success and that determines who will play the hero,” he says. “Tarak required Darshan and I chased after him. There are of course advantages and disadvantages of working with a big star. But, I have never faced any problem working with a star or a newcomer… both have showed up and worked, and delivered what I want,” he says.
Tarak also had Prakash wife’s Thashwini designing costumes. “I don’t usually discuss work at home, but with Tarak I was busy with other things and I could only design costumes for Darshan. I didn’t have the time to sit on designs for the heroines. And Thashwini pitched in, working with her friend Pratiksha Hegde, and they have done a good job,” he says, adding, “She did tell me that I am a tough guy to work with”.
What is the equation between a director and his or her actors on the sets? He recalls a few lines of advice from Anant Nag, when they were working on Prakash’s first film Khushi: “The second day of the shoot, he saw me nervous and he had a few words for me… he said, ‘Every person on the sets will be looking into your eyes, as the director. So the confidence you show will be shared by the others. The minute you appear weak, we will walk all over you… we are only a reflection of how you feel’. I have carried this advice to this day.”
In one line Prakash Jayaram sums up his film Tarak as a “family entertainer”. He adds, “It is on the wonderful journey of a character Tarakram, and it has a social message. He gets into something he doesn’t believe in and starts looking at life differently. Then there is how people who enter his life influence him, and how they become important to him. There are two girls in the story, how their roles play out will be interesting to watch on screen.”
The movie is ready for release and Prakash sounds confident. “It is a treat to work with all these actors. Everyone asks how it was to work with Darshan, and I say that no one knows that he is a fantastic artiste and a director’s actor. He is into the film 24/7 and he delivers to the T. I should also say that Sruthi is a tremendously gifted actress and Shanvi is a silent killer. Even Devaraj did a good job,” he says.
The film also had him collaborate with his brother-in-law Dusyanth, who is the producer. “We are working together after Milana, and he is a great support. My father used to complete a film in `26 lakhs and today our day’s expenses run into tens of lakhs. Everything has changed with time and so has filmmaking, no compromises can be made. I believe in my father’s words, ‘Film is a film and people will determine whether it will be big or small after its release’,“ he says.