There is a time in every actor’s life when he feels the need to step back and reflect upon his choices. And it looks like Prateik is going through a similar phase in his life. With his last three solo outings — My Friend Pinto, Ekk Deewana Tha and Isaaq — all crashing at the box office, the actor is leaving no stone unturned to make sure that his future projects don’t meet a similar fate. The conversation we have at Prateik’s new house — he shifted out of his maternal house a couple of months back — is sprinkled with terms like ‘being more cautious’ and long periods of silent contemplation. He’s slightly under the weather, and his barely audible voice is not just because of the cold. Prateik has always been a (very) soft-spoken guy and we often have to resort to lip-reading during the interview.
He isn’t moping at home. Instead, he’s working on building the right physique and making sensible choices when it comes to work. “I’m raring to go,” he tells us, once we have settled ourselves comfortably on the sofa in his one bedroom apartment in Bandra. “I’m just being more cautious now, that when the time comes to present the film to the audience, everything is in place,” he says. Never for a moment, even when his films were not doing well, has he doubted his abilities. “I enjoy my job. I love the idea of telling stories through the characters I play,” he says.
Does he think he would have been better guided, if his mother, late Smita Patil, was still alive? “I’m sure it would have been different if she was around,” he smiles, “But I’m happy being her son. I don’t try and imagine how things would have been if she was still there.” He does watch her films though, but try as he can, he somehow can’t see the resemblance. “Everyone sees it, but I can’t. They see the resemblance in personalities and in my vulnerable nature, but I don’t think I act like her. The resemblance I see, is in the way we look or the eyes. But as performers, I feel we’re different,”
As compared to earlier, when he would think of the process of choosing films as fun, now it’s more of a calculated move. “It’s my career at stake now,” he says, “When I’m old, I want to look back and feel I was part of some sensible projects with a good message,” he says. And what if he’s offered a film where the content isn’t upto the mark, but is meant to be a sure-shot winner at the box office? “There are times one has to step out of their comfort zone,” Prateik says, “If I’m convinced that the right kind of people are involved in the film, and that it will rake in what it needs to, then yes.” The actor will next be seen in Rampamposh and is also zeroing down on another project. Buying his own house and living on his own is the biggest step he’s taking towards being responsible, and now the actor wants to extend that towards his career as well. “I want to work hard, respect the competition and make the right choices,” he says. And even though he’s barely audible, there’s an unmistaken tinge of sincerity in his voice that makes us believe he will.