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Arjun Das on playing the level-headed Prabhu in Por - I do not feel stereotyped anymore | Exclusive interview

Actor Arjun Das, who will be next seen in Bejoy Nambiar's Por, sits down with us to talk about his method, playing laid-back roles, and reflects on his 12-year-old journey.

Arjun Das on playing the level-headed Prabhu in Por - I do not feel stereotyped anymore | Exclusive interview
Arjun Das

Last Updated: 09.48 AM, Feb 28, 2024


Actor Arjun Das, who played the menacing bad guy in films like Master and Kaithi, took the audience by surprise when he essayed a calm, sophisticated, and soft-hearted Dheeran in the anthology short Loners. While it is common for the film industry to create stereotypes of artists, Arjun has been successful in breaking the image. And now, the actor is all set to portray a different dimension with his level-headed and laid-back Prabhu in the upcoming Bejoy Nambiar film Por.

On stereotypes and Por

While being typecast as the angry young man, and asked about the same, Arjun says, “Very initially, probably after Kaithi, I had gotten similar type of roles like Anbu (his character from Kaithi), but now, that has changed for me. I have also been very conscious about the roles I pick and even others have understood that I am not only relegated to negative roles. But having said that, if something nice comes up, I would love to take it up. However, I do not feel stereotyped anymore.”

Por makes an interesting casting choice by roping in Kalidas Jayaram (who is often portrayed in soft roles) as the aggressive lead, while Arjun takes the backseat to play the more balanced character. Asked about this, “I was very clear that I would be doing the role that was offered to me, Prabhu. I wanted to play the calm guy and something different, and Bejoy was also clear about it. Of course, it is easy to play to the audience and play an angry young man, but he was very clear that we interchange it. I was very happy to take it up.”


The upcoming film is also one that will tend to explore the male ego and the psyche that is associated with it. On being asked how playing a character with the nuanced take is, Arjun explains, “For me, every movie I do, I spend a lot of time with my directors and that is my only homework. I always ask them and get directions on what I must do because, at the end of the day, it is their vision. So, I constantly check with them, and the same applied to Por as well where I always communicated with Bejoy about my role and performance.”

Por, which is being made in Hindi as Dange, features Harshvardhan Rane and Ehan Bhat in the lead roles. However, Arjun reveals that he did not witness the performance of the Hindi cast and adds, “When we get a scene, I check with him on what meter it must be performed. For me, every character is a journey that I spend with the director and try to get as much as information on how to approach from them. So, the credits always go to my filmmakers.”

On playing the bad guy

So be it Anbu from Kaithi, or Dheeran from Loners, Arjun credits Lokesh Kanagaraj and Halitha Shameem, respectively, for shaping the characters with fine variations. “Loners was important for me because I was trying something new and a director is seeing me as a vulnerable guy crying on screen. Before every shot, Halitha would sit with me and discuss how to approach each part. The case was the same with Vasantha Bala sir in Aneethi or Bejoy in Por. He was giving us space, and brief on how to carry this role. When you get that, you can add up a little to complement what is written. Experiences from life also matter,” he adds.

Luckily Arjun has been able to work his magic in films in which he is headlining as well as being part of an ensemble star cast. If he is part of Pawan Kalyan’s OG, while at the same time making a cameo appearance in Vikram and headlining Aneethi, the actor says that there is no comparison between his films and the roles he has donned in them. “Take it a Por, Kaithi, or Aneethi. But whatever opportunities I am getting today are all thanks to Lokesh, and the audience who are kind enough to accept me, which is why I was able to play Das in Master and be a part of Vijay sir’s film. I did not ask Lokesh about what my role or screen time was. I was just happy to be part of a film where Vijay sir and Vijay Sethupathi sir are in it. But I did not know the character was such a hit. Someone like Sujeeth, who has done Saaho and is doing OG, when you get part of it, it is a huge learning experience to stand with them and watch them perform. I don’t think I have reached a point where this is the screen time I need. It is all about the learning process. I also thank my writers for giving me authored-backed characters,” Arjun explains.

On voice acting and career

When it comes to playing roles subtly, Arjun gives the example of Anbu, as he says, “The character could go all over, but there is a line between subtle and overdoing. Like for example, before Anbu goes for the kill, he snorts the substance and leaves. The scene could have been performed in any way, with the music also being played. To keep it minimalistic is the key. But having said that, it is not easy to play subtle roles, because you have to make it as believable as possible.”

Arjun, who also has a distinct bass voice, is also conscious of his voice acting, especially when he dubs for other languages. Mentioning that dubbing helps him become a better actor, he adds, “I am informed up-front on what language I have to dub for, be it Malayalam, Hindi or Telugu. I am very happy to do that and blessed that the audience is accepting. I am willing to put in more effort to learn the languages, and I must credit my directors, and dubbing engineers.”

Having played intense characters, Arjun says that it was only Vinod from Andhaghaaram which took the most of him offscreen as well. Otherwise, the actor says that once the shot is over, he was able to switch off the role he has been playing, until he has to recreate for dubbing.

As Arjun completes 12 years in the industry, he recollects the time when he started out and thought he might do only a couple of films. But as things turned out in his favour and Master changed the ballgame for him, Arjun is content with how his career has progressed. The actor, who had quit his career abroad, to act in India, says, “I am still that person who would sit in theatres and watch films of my favourite directors. I am very content now!”

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