Prithviraj Sukumaran – 2013 belonged to This Man

Prithviraj in Celluloid and Aurangzeb in 2013

2013 has been a great year for many artists in Malayalam. Fahad Fazil has strengthened his position as a respected actor with commendable performances in movies like Annayum Rasoolum, Artist and North 24 Kaatham. Dulquer Salman should be a happy young man with his ABCD being a huge success and ‘Neelakashavum Pachakadal..’ critically acclaimed. I sincerely hope that Indrajith‘s much noted performance in Left Right Left finally gets him his long deserved due in the industry. Dileep surprisingly is still finding no issues in turning his mad-capers to huge successes. Two young directors stunned us with their cute little debut movie -Philips and Monkey Pen and Vineeth Sreenivasan continued on his huge form from last year to give a brilliant thriller in Thira.

With yet another terrific script in Mumbai Police, Bobby Sanjay has turned out to the most sought after scriptwriters in Malayalam and with Memories, Jeethu Joseph proves he is a class apart among young directors. While the media concentrated all their energy and time to promote one great actress’s comeback, another fabulous heroine made a silent return and then created a whopping impact.Shobana showed us what we had been missing from a leading actress for a long time. Finally its still not time to replace the big Ms as the major pillars of Malayalam Cinema as their movies continue to garner big initials and bring in huge money through satellite rights.

Despite all these artists having a wonderful year, I still believe 2013 belonged to another man. This actor started an amazing journey ,to say precisely, on 19th Oct last year when after a string of flops ,his ‘Ayalum Njanum Thammil’ released to packed houses and great reviews. He continued his brilliant form to 2013 and has just been moving from strength to strength with every other release. All his three Malayalam movies in 2013- Celluloid, Mumbai Police and Memories have won huge critical acclaims and also been big boxoffice successes which is a phenomenal feat.

I don’t remember a recent such instance where a leading actor’s all movies in a single year received big stars from the critics and collected huge money at ticket counters as well. He did not stop at that. After a much criticized debut last year, he went back to Bollywood and made amends to a great extent with a first rate performance in ‘Aurangzeb’ that caught many eyes. We are still one month away from the end of 2013, but I think its safe to say that 2013 belonged to Prithviraj Sukumaran.

Prithviraj couldn’t have asked for a better start to 2013 as his first movie of the year , Celluloid, was considered for the state awards of 2012 .Along with Ayalum Njanum Thammil ,his heartfelt portrayal of J.C Daniel , the father of Malayalam Cinema, won him his second state award for Best actor .Prithviraj became the first actor in Kerala to win this award twice at the age of only 30. In May, Prithviraj returned to Bollywood in Yash Raj Production’s Aurangzeb and left quite an impressive mark despite the movie ending up average at boxoffice. It was a great feeling as a Keralite to see reviews that went on to say that our Prithviraj did a commendable job standing up to veterans like Anupam Kher and Rishi Kapoor.

In Malayalam meanwhile Prithviraj played lead roles in back to back suspense thrillers, Memories and Mumbai Police. Despite belonging to the same genre, Prithviraj made sure that both the characters and scripts he chose were of stark contrasts which was vital in making sure that the audience enjoyed both the movies thoroughly. In Mumbai Police ,he portrayed with aplomb the confusion and struggles of a character who was chasing his own identity. A complexly written character, perhaps no other actor in Malayalam would have shown the guts to play Antony Moses.

If Prithviraj hadn’t agreed to the plot twist in the climax, perhaps Bobby Sanjay’s script would have never seen the light as a movie. In Memories, he played the drunkard police officer to perfection .Especially in the final 30 minutes of the movie, his brilliant acting as the investigator who is tense and eager as he solves each clue and gets close to the killer was vital in keeping us at the edge of the seat throughout.

Prithviraj in Memories and Mumbai Police in 2013

2014 looks even more brighter for Prithviraj where he has signed up for various genre projects like Lijo Jose’s thriller Antichrist, Vasanthabalan’s historic  film Kaaviya Thalaivan, Anil C.Menon’s romantic movie ‘London Bridge and Ranjith’s movie where he will unite with Mohanlal for the first time. The most pleasing aspect among the movies lined up is that Prithviraj definitely has no plans to go back to the ‘Hero’ or ‘Simhasanam’ kind of mass movies where he played larger than life heroes. He now know that he could still act in action movies with meaningful scripts and characters to offer the audience rather than just bashing up the bad guys all around and delivering punch lines one after another.

Among the upcoming projects, one movie which I am looking forward to with much anticipation is London Bridge where he looks like to play a pure romantic hero ,something that he has very rarely portrayed in Malayalam. Ironically its a genre where he has found much success in Tamil with movies like Parijatham and Mozhi. I have often wondered why directors in Kerala have not offered Prithviraj a complete romance yet but I hope London Bridge turns things for good for the actor in this area too.

The only complaint one could make against Prithviraj in 2013 is that they couldn’t get a chance to see the actor after his Memories in August. That’s good news for an actor whose image the critics and haters had busy time tarnishing every single chance they got before 14 months . As 2013 comes to a close, situations have reversed clearly and Prithviraj has succeeded in converting a whole lot of those haters to his fans. While his commitment and sincerity towards this art has remained intact as ever, its the actor’s choice of movies and roles which have improved vastly now and it has gone onto be near perfect.

Prithviraj has realized that rather than movies like ‘Theja Bhai’, ‘Simhasanam’ or ‘Thanthonni’, there are better and greater ways to please critics, entertain audience and rake in big moolah, all at the same time. At the end of 2013, Prithviraj stays at the pinnacle of his career. If he goes at this pace, the coming years are just going to look more fruitful for both himself and Malayalam Cinema.