It’s Not That Just Be­cause I Am A Star Kid Some­one Was Wait­ing To Launch Me.

The beau­ti­ful and bub­bly MALAVIKA MO­HANAN who is de­but­ing with Ira­nian film­maker Ma­jid Ma­jidi’s BeyondtheClouds, is in­deed in the clouds. Read on as the ac­tor talks about her strug­gle, her grand de­but along­side Ishaan Khat­tar and more…

Stardust (English) - - COVER STORY - Words DIVYA RAMNANI

What made you pick Beyondthe Clouds? What ac­tu­ally made me take up this role was the fact that it is a Ma­jid Ma­jidi film, he is an ab­so­lute ge­nius and I am a huge fan of his. And I was like, no mat­ter what film he is mak­ing, it’s go­ing to be fan­tas­tic, so you don’t even have to read the script. But of course after that I read the script and it was bril­liant, so it was a win­win sit­u­a­tion for me. Aur aisa bhi nahi ki sochna pada ki should I do this or not, it was like a golden op­por­tu­nity.

What kind of prepa­ra­tions did you go through for this film? I think the ac­cent came very nat­u­rally to me, be­cause I am a Bom­bay girl and I have grown up here. I have done my school­ing and col­lege in Bom­bay. The typ­i­cal Bam­baiya Hindi came very nat­u­rally like abey kya kar raha hai, abey paka mat (laughs) and my char­ac­ter needed ex­actly that, so the lan­guage part was easy. Phys­i­cally, I had to strug­gle a lot be­cause ma­jor­ity of my scenes hap­pened in jail. For that se­quence, I had 15 days to pre­pare and I had to lose eight ki­los. That was very dif­fi­cult, I had re­duced my diet and wa­ter in­take so that I could look de­pressed. And Ma­jidi sir wanted me to look in a very mis­er­able state like have dark cir­cles, vis­i­ble col­lar­bones… ba­si­cally some­one help­less stuck in prison.

You play Ishaan’s sib­ling, how is he as a co-star? He is re­ally good. And he has done his part so nicely and con­fi­dently, that no­body can tell that it was his first movie and I was more ner­vous than him on sets, kyuki meri bhi pehli Hindi pic­ture thi. He was re­ally ded­i­cated, fo­cused and a very en­er­getic co-star and that made my per­for­mance eas­ier.

Ma­jid Ma­jidi is known for his un­con­ven­tional sto­ry­telling, was there any pres­sure while work­ing with him? BeyondtheClouds is a kind of film that doesn’t depend on songs, like item songs that can gen­er­ate buzz on its name. It had a very strong story, and we had to go all de-glam. It was a con­tent, story and per­for­mance driven film, so the per­for­mances had to be strong or else it wouldn’t have done jus­tice to the story. And we had to take the film on our shoul­ders, so there was pres­sure but Ma­jidi sir made us per­form re­ally well and he made us do so many scenes and after I saw my­self on the mon­i­tor, mu­jhe ya­keen nahi hua ki main yeh kar sakti thi, but he’s a ge­nius and that’s what he does.

The story re­volves around drug deal­ing, don’t you think that’s a ris­ing con­cern in this city in re­al­ity as well? Ac­tu­ally, drug deal­ing is only a part of it, it’s not that the whole movie is based on it. And when you will see the film you will come to know that it’s more than just that. And the movie is not at all glo­ri­fy­ing drug deal­ing, it’s rather show­cas­ing what’s ac­tu­ally hap­pen­ing in the so­ci­ety.

Be­yond the Clouds was mostly shot in the slums of Mum­bai, how was your ex­pe­ri­ence re­gard­ing the same? It was shot at a lot of real lo­ca­tions apart from slums it was also shot in Versova, Dhobi Ghat, and lo­cal roads. So it was very in­ter­est­ing be­cause be­ing a Mum­baikar, I had never been to th­ese places. And I am play­ing a dhoban, so I had to do things which I never did be­fore like iron­ing, wash­ing clothes, so it’s very in­ter­est­ing how films let you ex­plore things you will never do oth­er­wise. As an ac­tor, it def­i­nitely helps shoot­ing in real lo­ca­tions.

You have worked in the Malay­alam film in­dus­try, how is Bol­ly­wood different from it? I have done about three to four films in Malay­alam, not a lot and four is a very small num­ber in Malay­alam film in­dus­try be­cause ac­tors there do around eight to ten movies in two years and I am not even ex­ag­ger­at­ing. It takes less than a month to com­plete the shoot­ing of a movie there. In Bol­ly­wood, even if you will do one film a year, that’s enough I feel. The Malay­alam in­dus­try is very different from Bol­ly­wood, be­cause it’s a smaller in­dus­try and also less in terms of bud­get but with very good con­tent. And you can­not give 10-15 re­takes there, you have to fin­ish it in one or two takes.

Your fa­ther K.U.Mo­hanan is a fa­mous cin­e­matog­ra­pher, did that kind of in­flu­ence you to join movies? I am slightly in­clined to­wards cinema sub-con­sciously be­cause of him. It wasn’t planned, but one is bound to get in­flu­enced by their par­ents. So I wanted to do some­thing in movies, but I wasn’t sure what and I was of­fered my first Malay­alam film when I was in col­lege and I gave it a try be­cause any­way, I was fig­ur­ing out what to do in life (laughs). And after do­ing it, I re­ally started en­joy­ing act­ing and I thought I might do it in Bol­ly­wood too. So I started meet­ing peo­ple, cast­ing direc­tors and I was wait­ing for a good first Hindi film and this hap­pened.

Hav­ing a Bol­ly­wood con­nec­tion, was it easy get­ting films or the strug­gle was the same? Strug­gle was the same, it’s not that just be­cause I am a star kid some­one was wait­ing to launch me. I had to go through the au­di­tions, but the good thing is all the cast­ing direc­tors like Shanoo Sharma, Mukesh Ch­habra were very en­cour­ag­ing. All of them re­ally liked me, they used to push me to go ahead but I think it’s also a mat­ter of get­ting the right film at the right time… it’s like a little bit of luck, a lot of hard­work and pa­tience.

The film has got some great re­views over­seas, what are your ex­pec­ta­tions here? I re­ally hope that the film con­nects and gets good re­views. And it’s not that the film is only for the niche au­di­ence, it’s for ev­ery­one and I hope they watch it. It’s a film about hu­man re­la­tions and com­pas­sion, ded­i­cated to ev­ery sib­lings.

Can you share an anec­dote while shoot­ing this film? I re­mem­ber ini­tially, it was very dif­fi­cult since I was very ner­vous and we didn’t do any work­shops for the prepa­ra­tions of our role, we di­rectly started shoot­ing be­cause Ma­jidi sir wanted us to be very raw and not to have those prac­tised emo­tions. And most of my scenes in the film are very in­tense and emo­tion­ally drain­ing. So after two weeks of shoot­ing, there was a very dif­fi­cult scene which I was not be­ing able to do. So we had to can­cel the shoot that day, the next day we had to try again and it worked well in the first take it­self and I heard Ma­jidi

What ac­tu­ally made me take up this role was the fact that it is a Ma­jid Ma­jidi film.”

sir and the whole crew clap­ping. It was very over whelm­ing be­cause when Ma­jidi sir claps you know, you have done well and he is very straight-for­ward, not some­one who sugar-coats.

Who is your in­spi­ra­tion? I think Priyanka Cho­pra is def­i­nitely an in­spi­ra­tion and it’s more than just act­ing as I think for the kind of things she has achieved, she is re­ally amaz­ing. She has come from a non-filmi back­ground and has made it on her own… look where she is to­day. No­body has ever done that, she is show­ing that any­thing is pos­si­ble and that’s very inspiring.

Who are the direc­tors you would like to work with, in the near future? I would like to work with Im­tiaz Ali, he is so good and I am sure he is on ev­ery ac­tor’s list. Also with Vishal Bhard­waj sir, Mani Rat­nam sir for sure and in­ter­na­tion­ally, I want to work with Tarantino sir, I love how vi­o­lent his movies are (laughs).

If not an ac­tor, what else would Malavika Mo­hanan be? I don’t know be­cause I never got the chance to ex­plore. If I stop get­ting movies, I will fig­ure out life mein kya karna hai (laughs).

Gen­er­ally while do­ing a film, an ac­tor is al­ways linked with his/her co-star… has that ever hap­pened with you? It hasn’t be­cause I am play­ing Ishaan’s sis­ter and it hap­pens mostly dur­ing ro­man­tic films. And our film has got love and not romance, so we have never been linked… thank God (laughs). We share a kind of brother-sis­ter bond, so I can’t even look at him like that, we have a very chilled out re­la­tion­ship.

Our film has got love and not romance, so Ishaan and I have never been linked… thank God!”

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