Actress Mrunal Thakur tells Sakshi Sharma that she wants to stay alive for eternity through her work
There are very few small screen actors, which includes the likes of Shahrukh Khan, Sushant Singh Rajput, Yami Gautam, Rajeev Khandelwal, who have made a successful transition to the big screen. It remains to be seen whether Mrunal Thakur, made famous by Kumkum Bhagya where she played Bulbul, will be the household name after Batla House, where John Abraham is the protagonist.
When asked about this transition, the actress who was recently seen in Super 30, says, “The best thing that has happened in recent times is that my parents are proud of me which I always wanted. When my father says ‘yes you did it’, that makes me feel like the luckiest girl on this planet.”
However, even while riding the crest of success, she is calm and grounded. She says that she would remain unchanged. When people ask her about popularity and Twitter trends, she replies that she still prefers to lounge around in her pyjamas and eat ghar ka khaana. “It’s normal, it’s the same life that I lived when I was a part of television,” she says. She credits this balance to her upbringing as she says her father is very grounded.
Then, there is also some advice from co-stars. Mrunal says, “One thing I learnt from Hrithik (Roshan) was that the result of your film should not affect you.” She further says that our teachers or parents teach us to be successful in life but nobody teaches us to accept our failures and face them. “It’s important for us to teach children how to cope up with failure, how to work hard on it, give your best and do a great comeback. I follow that policy,” she adds.
Coming back to her film Batla House which has grabbed eyeballs, it is obvious that it is inspired by the controversial encounter operation, which took place in 2008 in the capital. It revolves around the story of a police commissioner, Sanjeev Kumar Yadav (played by John), who has been awarded for his bravery six times but the fallout of this incident is that he is called a murderer. Mrunal plays the role of Nandita Kumar who is a fierce television anchor, a brave journalist and a supportive wife.
When we are curious as to what made her sign on the role, Mrunal closes her eyes for a moment and after a contemplative pause, says, “I could really connect to this role. I always wanted to be a journalist and through this film, I got to play that role. I feel whatever I studied during my journalism course prepared me for it.” The fact that the film is inspired by true events and is content-driven appealed to her the most. She feels that the audience is becoming smarter. They want real films and not the fairytale variety.
The film portrays the relationship between Nandita and Sanjeev and the ups and downs that every family goes through which would help the audience to connect to it easily. Mrunal’s role is of a feisty girl. She says, “I have never played someone like her before. In Love Sonia, I played a victim, in Super 30, I was a girl next door and this character gives out the signal, ‘don’t mess with me’ and has an answer to every question someone asks. It is different.” She feels that doing such a role is important as it takes her into a different zone breaking the monotony.
But she agrees on the point that any new role holds new challenges and says, “There was a scene where I had to operate the revolver and it had to look effortless. I had to dismantle and rearrange it without looking at it. It was tough. Add to it, that my skin got caught in it. Moreover, it is difficult to say the dialogues and operate a revolver simultaneously. I had only read about it in magazines and had never thought that I would be loading bullets.”
As someone who is friendly, acting firm and bold was another challenge. She shares that because she is a Maharashtrian, her Hindi has a trace of an accent which she had to be careful to avoid as when an anchor reads the news, it has to have clear intonation and proper punctuation without the delivery looking forced. She tripped on words like Mujahideen, prejudice and more, which were difficult to pronounce in one go.
As a small screen actor, she can clearly differentiate between the two media. She says that the preparation time is higher in films and actors get at least six months to delve into any character whereas in TV, they get only two to three minutes to read a script before going live. But then, one gets comfortable in their TV characters. Mrunal says, “Bulbul knows what to do but Nandita is dependent on the director. He needs to lead me because that’s new to me. It’s very fascinating to do both simultaneously.”
However, it is the newest kid-on-the-block, digital media, where path-breaking content is really being seen. She is working on a web series because she wants to set an example that actors should not restrict themselves to a single platform. She says, “Do what fascinates you. The medium should not matter. But I don’t see that happening.” Talking about the people in the West, she says that there are actors who are doing series like Friends and then films too. She agrees to the fact that things are changing as we don’t have stereotypes anymore.
There are films which leave the audience with thought-provoking ideas. Mrunal loves to do those as she feels they become a part of the history. She recalls how her film, Love Sonia, which talked about sex trade, changed the laws because of the screenings in New York. She says excitedly, “Imagine, one film can change so many lives!”
She is also an example of the effect that films can have. Sharing her personal experience, she says 3 Idiots changed her career. After watching that film she paid more attention to what she wanted to do in life. She feels that such films would always be remembered by the audience. “Art is something that stays alive even after you are dead, I would love to live through my work,” she adds.
Photo: Pankaj Kumar
Writer: Sakshi Sharma
Courtesy: The Pioneer