At 75, Vijayendra Prasad can conveniently sit back and relax, but he is streaming forward with the screenplay of Kangana Ranaut’s Jayalalithaa biopic.
Over a career spanning more than 25 years, Prasad has penned landmark films like Baahubali, Manikarnika, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, and Magadheera, among others. “It has been an amazing journey! I have done nearly 30 films and have been through several ups and downs. I’ve seen both success and failure, and have learnt that failure teaches more than success,” he said.
His two-and-a-half decades of experience has also made him realise that luck plays a vital role in one’s success. His success mantra is simple — being at the right place at the right time, and working with the right people. Prasad further revealed that every project that he has worked on so far has required a different approach. “There are times when a director comes up with an idea which I develop. Similarly, there are times when I bounce my story ideas with a director,” he says.
Apparently, he derives inspiration from books, newspaper references, and conversations. “I usually take a couple of months to develop a concrete idea and plotline and then build on it quickly,” Prasad explains. “I love exploring a variety of genres — folklore, fantasy, action. However, I don’t like horror.”
Ever since Prasad encouraged Kangana to take on the directorial mantle for Manikarnika, she has been going gaga over how Prasad persuaded her. In fact, he happens to be the one to inspire Kangana to direct her own biopic as well.
“It’s sweet of Kangana to say nice things about me. In an age where earning the position of a leading lady in Bollywood is so challenging, she went on to shoulder a film without anyone’s support. She is indeed a self-made actress,” shared Prasad. He explained that he writes purely for the love of it and doesn’t feel pressurised to do better. “We don’t know how a film might fare after it releases, but we do make an honest attempt to tell a story. I do not think about the numbers and stakes because if I do, then I wouldn’t be able to write.” Prasad has penned stories for most of Rajamouli’s films and feels the difference between writing for his son’s films and other directors. “Rajamouli is extremely dedicated and motivated, and his energy rubs off on the rest of his team. He’s not afraid of responsibilities and helps ease the weight off my shoulders.”
Films and business aside, Prasad’s bond with his son is unlike the modern father-son relationship. “While most fathers are more friendly with their sons these days, my son and I share a rather old school bond, and I command respect in our relationship. We bond over social issues. On the sets, however, he’s the director and I’m the writer. There have been differences in opinion between us but ultimately, it’s the director's call.” Admitting that he had never expected Rajamouli to become a top director, Prasad said, “However, I’ve always known that he has in it him, the X-factor. It was his choice to get into films, and he started with assisting me.”