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Dharala Prabhu is doing well at the box office. Tell us about both the positive and negative feedback you received.

The positive feedback from critics, audiences was that this is the best performance of Harish Kalyan’s. I don’t know if it’s true or not (laughs). On the negatives, some people found the runtime a bit long. But the runtime is not 151 minutes as mentioned in the certificate, it’s at best 143 or 144 minutes with scenes that didn’t make it being released online.

You seem to have spent quite some time dispelling rumours that Dharala Prabhu was an adult comedy. Why do you think that happened?
Guess because of the word ‘sperm’. After watching the teaser cut, invariably 90 per cent of people ended up thinking it’s an adult comedy since it spoke of sperm donation. We had to be open in the teaser. Likewise, the original makers, when they released the film, there was a poster of Ayushmann Khurrana with a T-shirt that said ‘I am a sperm donor’. Thankfully, after they watched the film, they have come to know that it is nothing of that sort and the movie can be watched by people of all age groups.

COVID-19 must be keeping you as well on tenterhooks?
Definitely. A few theatres and malls have been shut near Tamil Nadu border areas. Naturally, the movie didn’t release there. Theatres are shut down till March 31. Post that, if the orders are lifted, the movie will continue its run. At this point, we haven’t talked about re-release or anything. Not just my film, even makers of biggies like Master are confused; if you can’t release the film in major markets like Karnataka, Kerala, Dubai, etc, which are in partial lockdown.

You seem to be doing a lot of urban characters. Are you worried about not being able to pull off the rural look?
Nothing of that sort. It all depends on the director, his conviction and what he can extract out of me.

Your next also happens to be a remake (Pelli Choopulu which starred Vijay Deverakonda and Ritu Varma in the lead).
I was to do a feature for Sasi sir (of Poo fame). But he needs more time in fine-tuning the script. Hence, jumped on the offer of acting in Pelli Choopulu remake. In Pelli…, I am more of a lazy, laidback person… you know the typical jobless, aimless youth.

In the age of OTT platforms, do you think remakes work?
Definitely. For example, Vicky Donor (on which Dharala Prabhu is based) wasn’t watched by a lot of people from the South. I don’t think even within the film fraternity, many people would have seen it. So, it becomes a fresh film and fresh content here. Likewise, even Pelli Choopulu had very regional patronage. So, I believe they would work.

You made your debut with Sindhu Samaveli (2010) opposite Amala Paul and until Bigg Boss happened, the journey was daunting. How did you cope up in between?
Naturally, it’s been tough. Have felt like ‘Ennada idhu’ but never felt like giving up on my dream.

When a movie doesn’t do well, who needs to take care of the responsibility? Is it the director since he/she is the captain of the ship or the actor on whose face and name the entire film is promoted?
Has to be seen on a case to case basis. In the case of upcoming actors, we more or less don’t have any say in things. We go by the director. In those cases, the director has to take the windfall. However, if someone says I didn’t act well and the film would have been better had some other actor done the role, I would definitely take the pitfall.

What homework you do vis-à-vis your roles?
I mostly go by the director’s conviction and what he wants. If it’s a remake, I might refer some other actor or his body language. A lot of improvisation happens on the spot. I try to understand the behaviour of the character I portray and accordingly, try to emote. For example, in Dharala Prabhu, I was mature and respectful of women, considering I have been brought up by them. In Ispade Rajavum Idhaya Raniyum, I hated women and was frustrated towards them since my mother had run out on me.

There’s this criticism that you pander more to the ‘A’ centric audiences…
It’s not been done consciously. In fact, you would be surprised to know that Pyaar Prema Kaadhal did better in B and C centres than A.

How did the acting bug bite you?
A lot of serials, ad shoots used to happen in my house. Dad owned a music label. Guess, it just happened.

As far as long scale is considered, what is your ambition?
I wish to be a Pan Indian actor. For starters, Tamil people around the world should start believing that if Harish Kalyan has acted in a film, then it’s good.

I am sure that a lot of girls would love to know this. Are you single?

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