He got his start in a small, but potent, role in Abbas Tyrewala’s 2008 hit romantic comedy “Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na,” followed by a high-profile performance in Aamir Khan Productions’ international festival favorite “Dhobi Ghat.”
Since then, Prateik (he prefers one name, nowadays) has appeared in “Aarakshan,” “Dum Maro Dum” and “My Friend Pinto” — a wide range of roles that reveal different sides of the young actor, who is the son of acclaimed late actress Smita Patil and actor-turned-politician Raj Babbar.
But with his next film, “Ekk Deewana Tha,” opening Feb. 17, Prateik has plunged head over heels into romantic hero territory. He plays Sachin, a budding filmmaker who moves to Mumbai to pursue his dream. When he gets there, Sachin surprises himself by falling in love with a chaste Malayalam Christian girl named Jessie (Amy Jackson). Gautam Menon directs the film, a remake of his own Tamil film “Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa” and its Telugu version “Ye Maaya Chesave.”
Prateik spoke to India-West recently from Mumbai.
Q: What aspect of the role of Sachin did you find you most liked, or identified with?
A: The realism of the story, I think. His struggle, because he’s a middle-class boy, to become what he wants to be. He is absolutely downright honest and straight about everything, he speaks his heart and he doesn’t think twice about what he’s saying. It can get him into trouble, too — which I think is cool.
Generally, what I related to was a kid trying to find his feet in the movie business, trying to be a filmmaker, chasing his dream — and then suddenly this beautiful, simple girl walks into his life and it’s love at first sight. It’s how he balances both things: he chases his dream and chases his love, and makes sure she stays with him.
Q: How was it, working opposite Amy? How are you two onscreen?
A: Honestly, I think we look great together. She’s such an awesome, beautiful actress, so friendly and awesome. That helps. It’s not that I’m not friendly, but I get awkward with strangers and I don’t open up easily. But it was easy with her. She’s talkative and fun and outgoing. When you’re doing a love story, I think, the chemistry matters. I hope we do more films together.
Q: How do you feel about the moniker “star kid”? Do you resent it?
A: It is what it is. I am, to my knowledge. I’m proud of it in a way, but it does have its downfall. It doesn’t upset me or anything. Being typecast, though, that would annoy me. I believe whoever you are, if you have a background [in film] or your parents have done well, or you don’t have a background, you need to work hard anyways. That’s the only way you prove yourself, by working hard.
Q: You are shooting a film now called “Isaaq.” Care to tell us about that?
A: Issaq means ishq, which means love. It’s the way the Benarasis say it. We shot in Benares for 2 months; it’s an Indian adaptation of Romeo & Juliet. I play a lean, mean killing machine: Romeo (laughs). Juliet is a new girl but I’m not allowed to say her name; the producers have planned something.
Q: Tell me about A.R. Rahman’s music and how it works in the film, and your experiences picturizing the songs.
A: Absolutely breathtaking. It takes you to another realm. It’s so soulful and some of the songs can put you into fairytale land. Some of the songs can make you cry.
Q: Earlier, you said something you liked about the character was that he was struggling to become what he wants to become, and that makes me wonder: did you always want to become an actor?
A: I did know that I wanted to entertain. I knew that for a fact. I didn’t want to be sitting at a desk in an office, looking at a computer screen, going through files and sorting papers. I knew that for a fact that that was what I didn’t want to do. I could be in sports, in music, or movies or anything — just that I wanted to entertain. I happened to get a cameo in a film that got really appreciated, in “Jaane Tu … Na Jaane Na,” just five scenes and people are still talking about it. If you ask me, it’s one of the most pathetic debuts I’ve ever seen! (laughs). I’m like, hey, if I put my mind to this and take it seriously, I decided to take acting seriously.
Q: You recently ran in the Mumbai Chartered Marathon. Did you run the whole distance? Was it hard or easy for you?
A: It was just 7km, which is not much, but it’s for a good cause: to help the girl child in rural areas. I’m more than happy to be associated with any good cause, and this was more than good. Also, my mother used to believe in promoting the girl child and issues such as these, and she truly believed in equal rights for the girl child, so she’d be proud.