By Mithun
Venkat Prabhu - Your friendly neighbourhood filmmaker, Venkat Prabhu, Biriyani


First time, it was called beginner’s luck. But, he did it again the next time - and again.

But still, there are people who believe that all his successes are chance encounters. Maybe, because his scripts are so light that they seem to be written on tissue paper, when hanging out with friends before the orders start coming in. Or maybe, because he and his team have so much fun and take the whole business of film making without any pressure.

Well, whatever maybe the charges, there is no denying of the fact that Venkat Prabhu is one of the most bankable directors of Tamil Cinema, with a style of his own.

The industry has very few filmmakers, who know the audience as well as he does. That is his USP, or else he could not have done ‘Mankatha’. To direct someone of Ajith’s caliber, especially the actor’s golden jubilee movie, and satisfying every section of audience isn’t by any means easy. He uses this foretelling skill to add humor, very effectively, in ‘Biriyani’ - he predicts the audience’s reaction through some character onscreen. When Premgi voices his trademark punch line, yet again, we hear a man threatening him, ‘Evlo naal da ithaye solla pora.’ Not just in Biriyani’s clichéd comedies and before the ‘Missisippi’ item number, but even when unraveling the mystery, he anticipates the audience’ minds - he teases us by zooming in on to the suspect in our minds, giving us a minute of triumph, only to take it away the next moment. Perhaps, his shrewd understanding of the audience is why his movies do not sag at any point.

Also, Venkat Prabhu has an eye for parodies, not just parodies, but parodies that work - be it the ‘Karakattakaran’ car in ‘Saroja’, Premgi shaking his head for ‘Kangal Irandaal’ in ‘Goa’, when Nayakan’s ‘Nallavara Kettavara’ question is asked to Ajith in ‘Mankatha’, Nassar mimicking Premgi in ‘Biriyani’ or Karthi’s uncanny resemblance to Suriya when he sports the Singam moustache in ‘Biriyani’. Only Venkat Prabhu could come up with such idiosyncrasies. He had learnt the trade by watching movies, and that’s what reflects in his movies. Now, his movies are a brand, which are emulated by others.

Prabhu’s success can be attributed to his discernment about the contemporary society. The fact that all his movies were relevant at the time of release stands proof. ‘Chennai 600028’ released during the time of Cricket World Cup 2007. ‘Saroja’ was a road movie, very similar to the lines of ‘The Hangover’, which released after ‘Saroja’. ‘Mankatha’ had Thala Ajith pulling out the infamous Joker act of ‘The Dark Knight’. ‘Goa’ was a holiday movie about three guys, who rush to Goa in search of a white-skinned partner. Regarding Goa, Venkat Prabhu said, “People who saw Goa either loved it or hated it.” In general, the undecided people, who fall between the lovers and haters, decide a movie’s verdict. Taking into account that, Goa can be labeled as an unsuccessful experiment, but not a bad movie.

Above all, what makes him stand out is the vibe he shares with his co-workers, from first timers to seasoned actors. When he is around, laughter is guaranteed. His crew – Yuvan Shankar Raja, Shakthi Saravanan, Praveen Srikanth, Vasuki Bhaskar, Vidhesh and Silva – has been constant and they seem to reserve their bests for Venkat Prabhu. Not just the technical crew, even the actors of his previous films do not shy off from showing their face in his ventures, even it is only for a few frames.

For SPB Charan to invest in a person, who hasn’t been an Assistant Director, who hasn’t been to movie institutes, should only be attributed to their friendship and the trust on Prabhu’s ability. The best thing, however, is Venkat Prabhu does not take away the successes as his. He says, “My movies are a team work. Everyone does their work perfectly, and that’s why my movies work.”

On this unpredictable gamble of filmmaking, nothing can work better than having trusting friends. With such friends at his aide, Venkat Prabhu’s big dreams, be it a Simbu-Dhanush film, children’s 3D film with Suriya or even a Thala-Thalapathy film, is definitely possible.


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