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…
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!”