Harish Kalyan is disappointed that Dharala Prabhu (by debutant director Krishna Marimuthu) could only run for three days in theatres because of the coronavirus outbreak. “But I can’t blame anyone for what’s happening. We thought the film was primed to do well as the reviews were all in praise. On top of that, even on those three days, the theatre footfall was relatively low because the corona fear had already taken over,” he says. Harish Kalyan, who has had his brush with failure during the early part of his acting career, says, “I know that things, sometimes, go against our expectations. However, I was betting a lot on this film as my last film Dhanusu Rasi Neyargale didn’t do well.
I wanted Dharala Prabhu to be a box office hit, and not just be ‘that film that got good reviews’. Only with numbers can a hero progress to the next level.” Dharala Prabhu has now been released on Amazon Prime, and the actor is relieved that it has at least managed to reach many people. “This way, it at least recovers some significant money for the producers but it still can’t match up to the business and the reach of theatrical release.” And maybe that’s why Harish is not too keen on doing a straight OTT release. “I am a product of the theatre-going experience.
So, at this point, I would still want to watch films on the big screen. Having said that, if there is something big — not just in terms of budget — I would consider it.” He isn’t sure about Dharala Prabhu coming back to theatres once the lockdown is lifted. He says, “It might, but I am not sure about whether it would do the numbers it deserves. Even if theatres opened tomorrow, people are not going to flock in.” When asked if this is going to affect his future prospects, Harish is confident that won’t because people know that ‘Dharala Prabhu, with good reviews, was projected to do well’. Even the many good reviews of the film pointed out that the Tamil remake of Vicky Donor seemed toned down while handling the taboo subject of sperm donation, and Harish agrees: “When making a film for our audience, there are some considerations… in terms of what should be shown and how.
Also, we have entirely changed the screenplay of the second half except for the climax and it is largely a different film from Vicky Donor — at least, that’s the feedback I have received so far.” As the conversation veers towards his choice of his films, I say he seems to be comfortable in the ‘lover boy’ image that Pyaar Prema Kaadhal and Ispade Rajavum Idhaya Raniyum have gained for him. Harish says, “I think this is the right time for me to do romantic films. Everybody gets that phase. Maddy can’t do Alaipayuthey or Thalapathy (Vijay) can’t do a Thullatha Manamum Thullum now. They are now in a different league. Having said that, Dharala Prabhu is also my attempt to break free of that image. Maybe the love portions might again reflect me as a chocolate boy but I am also a sperm donor, a son, and even a biological father in the film.
” I ask if he would be okay with playing characters like Pithamagan’s Vikram and Guna’s Kamal Haasan, and Harish says, “Definitely! That would intrigue the audience. When I keep doing metrosexual roles, and suddenly opt for a rustic role like Paruthiveeran… that change might create interest.” Harish is next teaming up with director Sasi, and for someone who has worked with relatively young directors, the experience looks to be different. “This will be my first film with such an experienced filmmaker. With the little acquaintance I have had with him during story discussions, I think it is going to be easy because Sasi sir doesn’t have any airs about him.” His other film, the Tamil remake of Telugu hit Pelli Choopulu, is also in the pipeline, and with the current lockdown situation, the film’s production is on hold. “We are not even sure when it would be a good time to release, say, even the title of the movie.”