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Exclusive! Prasanna: As relationships disintegrate, we might end up hiring people for companionship, just like in Mad Company

Prasanna opens up about his upcoming web series Mad Company, which will begin streaming on Aha Tamil from September 30

Exclusive! Prasanna: As relationships disintegrate, we might end up hiring people for companionship, just like in Mad Company

Prasanna in a still from Mad Company

  • P Sangeetha

Last Updated: 11.33 AM, Sep 27, 2022

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Actor Prasanna seems to have taken to the digital platform like a fish to water. After turning heads in a number of web series, including Navarasa, Addham, Fingertip and Victim, the actor is now gearing up for his next, Mad Company, which will premiere on Aha Tamil from September 30. The versatile actor will be seen in a quirky avatar as the founder of a firm that rents people to cater to the relationship needs of people. An excited Prasanna gives us the lowdown of Mad Company in a chat with OTTplay.

The trailer of Mad Company looks quite quirky and interesting...

It is a 'mad' show that stemmed out of a 'mad' idea. We are living in a time, when even as we sit together as a family, we are glued to our cell phones. We are becoming alienated and the institution of family is somewhere getting slightly disoriented. As relationships crumble, soon we might have to hire actors into our lives for companionship. 

I had read that in the western countries and in some parts of Japan, there is an arrangement where people hire complete strangers for a certain point of time to pretend to be a character they wish to have in their lives. A few weeks ago, too, I had read about a man who doesn't have a conventional job. He is available for hire and all he does is listen to the rant of the person who has hired him. He gets paid for that. We may think that we are better off in India, but we might soon get to a place where we start missing people in our lives and end up hiring people to pretend to be someone. This is the basic premise of the show. We have added all kinds of flavours to it and the show treads myriad emotions, comedy, drama and even horror. Every episode will provide a different experience to the audience. 

Could you tell us about your character?

I play an arrogant actor called AK, who is very good at his work. One day, he decides to call it quits because he wants to be independent and pursue his passion which is not controlled by anyone. So he decides to start this company where people can hire actors into their lives. This works just like a food delivery or a shopping app. You can choose actors of a particular age, gender, or other criterion to be part of your life for a certain period of time. I train these actors and send them to the clients. Mad Company functions like a corporate setup where we brainstorm, discuss, practise and also analyze the pros and cons of the client specifications. 

When it is a quirky idea, it comes with a lot of challenges and risks. For instance, when someone hires a woman actor to pretend to be their wife, you know it comes with certain limitations. The plot gives a peek into the lives of the hirees and those who are hired. It's an interesting idea that we have put together and I hope it works with the audience.  

You are teaming up with Kaniha after almost two decades...

Ever since we worked together in Five Star (2002), we have been friends. Though life took us on different paths, we stayed in touch. Once or twice in a  year, we would catch up for dinner or lunch. But it never occurred to us that we should work together. On the first day of Mad Company, that's what Kaniha told me, 'All these years, we have been in touch, part of the same industry, but never worked together again after Five Star'. We were thrilled to work together again after 19 years. The role that she plays in Mad Company is akin to what she is to me in real life - a strong and understanding person whom you can trust and count on. In fact, I introduce her to my team as work wife. That's the kind of bond AK and Podhum Ponnu share on the show.

The team seems like a fun bunch with people like Balaji Mohan, SP Charan on board...

Actually, Charan sir and I had barely one day's combination scenes. Our characters are poles apart in the show. But we kept interacting about how comical the scenes could be made out to. There is always some kind of wackiness to everything that AK does in the series. And that's what I really liked about this character. He is totally unpredictable. He is arrogant, bold, rude and vulnerable, all rolled into one. Director Vignesh Vijaykumar and cameraman Shiva GRN, they both brought a lot of excitement to the table. Every single person on the set helped me enhance the image of AK that I had conjured up in my head. I owe a lot to the writer-director and the cameraman for the quirkiness you see onscreen.I thoroughly enjoyed working with the team.  

How was the mood on the set?

It was not like a regular shoot. There were a lot of new actors and we approached them for ideas. There was not a single boring or rigid moment on the set. I had a whole lot of freedom to try new things. Vignesh gave me a lot of input but let me chisel my character the way I wanted it to. Both of us had a lot of mutual respect and admiration, and our offscreen chemistry helped a great deal on screen.

You seem to have take to the OTT space quite well...

I am quite thrilled about being part of the platform because it kind of breaks the monotony of my work and gives me more unconventional and uncinematic things to try on. With OTT, I am able to switch genres instantly and think in a certain way. For instance, in cinema, you need to say everything in a span of two hours, so you have to rush, follow a certain pace. And no matter what kind of film you are doing, you need to have certain ingredients to make it engaging to the audience. But in an OTT project, you have the time to establish your character, scenario and take your time to tell the story. Even for a minor change, we have the time to work on it. OTT gave us that freedom. I am trying to explore more genres. At the same time, I am coming back to theatrical cinema with an exciting project.

What's the status of Thupparivalan 2?

Well..I know only as much as everyone else knows. I have not been informed about  the next move and I am as clueless as everyone else.

Other projects in the pipeline...

I wrapped up two other web series, which will be releasing soon. I am also shooting for a straight Hindi series. After that, I will be doing a film with my friend Rajan Madhav, who worked with me in Muran (2011). He had narrated the script to me then and I had found it quite interesting. But for many reasons, the script went to a lot of other actors, things got delayed and eventually, the project came back to me. This time around, I didn't want to let it go. I am shooting for the Hindi series until November. I guess we will begin work on the film in January 2023.

You have completed two decades in the film industry. Looking back, how do you see your journey?

Well, it hasn't been an easy one.  It was a roller coaster and I had my highs and lows. Everyone goes through that, so I have no qualms about it. I have learnt to count my blessings. When I started my career, there were so many newcomers in the fray, and some are not around in the industry anymore. But I am still here and I am being offered  good roles and projects. I am grateful for that. But like a lot of followers, fans, supporters tell me, I am yet to get my due. I am positive about it and waiting for the same. Until then, I will keep trying to give my best in everything.

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