All in a day’s workhttps://indianexpress.com/article/entertainment/entertainment-others/all-in-a-days-work-3/

All in a day’s work

Prateik gets candid about the mixed reactions to My Friend Pinto,his new muscular look and turning a romantic hero in his forthcoming films.

Planet Prateik is how he describes himself. Very apt,because Prateik lives in a little world of his own. In fact,amongst the many adjectives used to describe the five-film-old actor,unconventional and bashful are the most common. Unconventional,because he was the first star son to launch himself with a 10-minute role in Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na,and turned into a dhobi in his second film (Kiran Rao’s Dhobi Ghat).

Bashful,because he’s still shy,self-conscious and awkward in front of others.

My Friend Pinto,in which he plays a simple musician from Goa,released last week and he’s pondering over the reactions to his performance.

Settling down on the settee in his artistically done up bachelor’s pad at Mumbai’s upscale suburb Bandra,he digs into a special protein-rich diet of grilled chicken and mushrooms. You notice the physical transformation. Keeping abreast with the other actors,the once lean boy now flaunts a taut,strong muscular look.

As an actor,the 25-year-old is still trying to find his space. Though Pinto had an ensemble cast,it has introduced him to a new genre,comedy. Ek Deewana Tha,his next release,will be his first romantic film,as will the one after,Manish Tewary’s Issak. The actor chats about his latest release,how he picks and chooses his roles and more…

What has been the response to My Friend Pinto?

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The response to my role has been as anticipated. Very mixed. The majority of the critics have been appreciative or kind. Some have dismissed it while others have advised me that I should be careful with my selection of films. And believe me I appreciate each and every comment passed about me and my movie. As for the audience,I have received enough feedback to know that many people have loved my character Pinto. They have found him cute and adorable. I have taken everything positively and am even more determined than ever to put in more heart and soul in my performances.

You were very nervous during the promotions of the film.

That’s because the onus was on my co-star Kalki Koechlin and me,as we were the main two actors promoting it. This was also the first film where I was playing the principal character.

Were you surprised when Sanjay Leela Bhansali offered you the film?

Frankly,yes. But then filmmaker Raaghav Dar was a friend as he was the associate director on Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na. He wrote the script with me in mind and narrated it to me in Mr Bhansali’s office who was also keen that I do it. It was cute and funny and I was completely bowled over. And working with Mr Bhansali was something that I didn’t want to miss.

This is your first attempt at comedy. How would you describe the experience?

My Friend Pinto was not only mine,but also Mr Bhansali’s first attempt at comedy. The script was crazy,every moment was comical. I loved it. Of course,there were several workshops with Kalki, my co-stars Arjun Mathur and Divya Dutta,before we started shooting,where we worked on the body language,the way we spoke and the timing. That was also great fun.

But let me tell you,it’s easier to do slapstick than comedy with a straight face. I learnt one rule –– do not allow yourself to be carried away or try hard to be funny. Play it straight. Like you must have seen,we did try going over the top in some places and kept it subtle in some scenes.

What was the most difficult part while shooting this film?

Since it’s the story of one night,we shot mostly at nights,and everyone’s sleeping schedule went for a toss.

Do you rehearse a lot or are you a spontaneous actor?

I like to rehearse and then be spontaneous! (laughs). See when you rehearse you know the lines and the graph of your character. After that you can play with the expressions and body language.

How is Raaghav as a director?

He’s awesome,he’s so cool and composed! He’s really passionate about his work,and I think the fact that we knew each other helped a lot.

And did you really turn celibate during the promotions of the film?

(Laughs) That was UTV and Sanjay Leela Bhansali Films’ idea!

Now that you have done six films,is there anything that you find difficult about acting?

Every film that I have done has had tough moments. My basic rule is to keep it stable and not go over the top. Understand and communicate what you are doing in the simplest and realistic way.

What comes easily to you?

Being quiet and brooding,and displaying emotions with expressions,without dialogues. Not that I don’t like doing anything else. In fact,today the whole challenge is to get out of my comfort zone and doing something different,because acting is something I love.

Were you disappointed with the not-so-good response to your part in Prakash Jha’s Aarakshan?

I won’t deny I was upset. Many a times when I was shooting for Aarakshan I was very confused,and kept asking Prakash sir whether I was doing the right thing. I would ask him if my performance was ok,but he would tell me that I was perfect. Coming from a veteran director like him I was very pleased and continued performing that way.

But when the movie released and I got serious flak from everyone saying,‘What’s this kid doing in the film,’ I was like,‘But my director said I was good.’ So it’s really strange.

What do you like to play better,the good or the bad guy?

I am fascinated by every character –– bad boy,good boy,a village boy,anything –– but it should be something that I believe in.

Does casting a heroine opposite you get tough,because most of the heroines look older than you?

Well,yes! I turn 25 in December and Amy Jackson,my co-star in Gautham Menon’s Ek Deewana Tha,is only 19 years old,but I look younger than her! At times,it’s scary especially when it comes to romantic films.

Recently Amy escorted you to an awards function and speculations were rife that you were romancing her in real life too.

I wish I was! She’s such a beautiful girl. But I guess the producers of our film thought it was a good opportunity for us to be seen together so that our pairing is noticed.

And who will you be your love interest in Manish Tewary’s romantic drama Issak that is based in UP?

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There’s a new girl in the film. I start shooting from October-end and I will be in Varanasi for two months. I play a local goonda,that’s the reason I have worked on my body.

What are you looking out for after Issak?

I’m meeting many directors. I’m open to everything.

What about Tigmanshu Dhulia’s Milan Talkies?

I don’t know what’s happening to that.

Do you ever wish you had gone to a film school?

Me and schools/colleges don’t go together. But I guess it helps to be trained. I get trained in bits and pieces before I start shooting for a film,but I have not done any formal course.

geety.sahgal@expressindia.com

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