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INTERVIEW: MRUNAL THAKUR: I am blessed to have Hrithik Roshan and John with me as my pillars!

Mrunal Thakur is a phenomenal actor who will be starring in Batla House opposite John Abraham. She received immense amount of love for Super 30 and now she is back to impress us by her performance. Batla House is not only a film about the controversial encounters but also about a love story between an officer and a journalist. The movie releases on 15th August.

Q. 2019 has been your so far, what is your excitement level right now on?
Mrunal:
I only wanted one film but got two instead, looks like the saying is coming true which goes by ‘jabhi bhagwan kuch deta hain chappad fadd ke deta hain’. Both the movies which I am doing, Super 30 and Batla house are very different movies. The roles are also very different, I am a journalist in one and a kathak dancer in another. It was great working with Nikkhil sir. When I got to know that he is making a new movie after D Day, that too after so many years, I didn’t know about Batla house so he told me everything about it and also about the characters. I could relate to it somehow because my uncle is a retired officer so the atmosphere is very stressful during that time. Also I have done my graduation in journalism so I got to apply that imply here.

Q. People go down south to make debuts but you went to US. What was the reason behind it?
Mrunal:
Fortunately, I didn’t had to travel tot he US. The team India Take 1 was in India and they were casting for Love Sonia where they needed a raw girl. So they were looking for an unknown face so they were doubtful about casting me as the girl for their film as they had a lot of specifications. I was not aware that this would be an International film although there were international star casts and makers. It was a big opportunity for me to work with these people so it was a perfect debut. Sometimes in Bollywood, you don’t get a solo film as a debut so I am glad to do Love Sonia.

Q. Do you wish to grow into a mainstream actress or be in the artistic bubble?
Mrunal:
I want to be a combination of both. Even today I feel that if I had more fame or if I would have done bollywood movies the Love Sonia would have done great. So Tabrez sir told me that yes it is important for such films to reach out to the audience and it only reaches maximum people if you are popular. But also they are not making this film for the numbers. We have taken Love Sonia to 20-30 countries. Now I wish that after these two big bollywood films, I get a chance to do such films which are for a cause. I salute to Aayushmann Khurana who did a movie like Article 15, it did great for 4 weeks which was a great achievement so its important to have a known face.

Q. So did you also talk to Shobhna Yadav?

Mrunal: I did. When I was preparing for Nandita, our writer had researched a lot before giving us the draft. So we watched a lot of Shobhna Yadav. So when Nikkhil sir met her, I noticed that she presents herself very well and has an amazing aura. Although I couldn’t meet her at that time. Now I met her recently at ABP News so she complimented me and said that even though we both didn’t meet before you shot for the film but whenever I saw you on the screen, I could feel that is Nandita. I loved spending time with her.

Q. Nikkhil Advani said that this is a love story so can you elaborate a little on that?

Mrunal: When I met Nikkhil sir and we were reading the film, Batla House was the base of this film so he has tried to balance both the sides of Sanjeev Kumar and Nandita Kumar’s lives, the personal and professional. We often forget that an officer also has a family. When I met Shobhna ma’am, she told me that when this incident happened, we were on the verge of splitting but then I realized that my husband needs me the most today. Even John says that we should keep batla house incident on a side and see the simple story of a husband who is a police officer and a wife who is a journalist and how they are trying to balance their lives. This story is a slice of life, it is an unusual love story that I am a part of.

Q. What did you know about Batla house before doing this film?
Mrunal:
When we live in Mumbai, we know what had happened on 26/11, but one of the topics which was the most talked about after Babri Masjid in North was Batla house. It was one of the most controversial encounters. There were a series of 5 bomb blasts. I only knew, the most decorated officer, Sanjeev Yadav, who got many gallantry award and still this encounter was called fake. So not officers were involved here but also political parties and journalists. There were two sides here, for and against.

Q. Why do you think there is a stereotyping or perception amongst people that TV actors cannot make it into Bollywood films?

Mrunal: The perception is because, when you watch TV, we watch the serial and we see those effects which grab the viewer’s attention. We want the TRP there. The most difficult job here is for the editors. So what the makers think that the TV actors are very loud. But that is not true, we do the same acting but when we present it, we just want to grab people’s attention. So people used to look down upon TV. But today, I feel honoured and privileged to be here. Because my base is TV. If I wouldn’t have gone through the grilling process there then I would have not been able to work in front of Hrithik or John. So I wouldn’t be able to explore myself, I owe my career to TV. And people don’t look down upon it any more. There is no comparison in the West. So now things are changing since 2018 and it is because of the audience. They are getting smarter and want good content. They are accepting TV actors in Bollywood. They want to see a face where they can connect to.

Q. When you were doing Love Sonia did you ever thing you will be doing back to back films in bollywood with superstars like Hrithik and John?

Mrunal: No, it is surreal. When I signed Love Sonia, people told me you are crashing your career before taking off. But I didn’t care about how am I looking on the screen or how much money I am getting paid or how many screens the film is getting. I met these girls while researching for the movie, they are just like us with a bright smile but their life journeys are so sad. I just wanted to be a part of this film. This movie screened in Uzbekistan on anti-human Trafficking day, its President changed two laws, one about gender inequality and other one about violation against women. I am happy to see that an Indian film can change laws in a foreign country. When you prove your audience and your filmmakers that you can act, then of course they appreciate your work by offering your films with Hrithik Roshan and John Abraham. I feel I am what I am because of Love Sonia.

Q. How was it working with both of these superstars?
Mrunal:
My experience with working with Hrithik Roshan was like he is the biggest star of the nation, he is the Greek god himself, will he act very starry? But when he entered he said, “Hi I am Hrithik Roshan” I was like who doesn’t know you? He is so down to earth and hard working. When you have somebody to look up to, you definitely pull up your socks. I did not have this experience in Love Sonia. I had to tell myself that forget he is Hrithik Roshan and look at him as Anand Kumar. People started knowing him after Kaho na Pyaar hai but that should not consume or affect you as a person. He is my role model and I want to work with him again. I miss during promotions. John looks like serious but he is not like that. He always used to hide my phone. He had played the maximum number of pranks on the sets. Even though the film was on a heavier side, John made sure that everyone was comfortable. I am blessed to have both of them with me as my pillars.

Q. Are you planning to head towards web series?
Mrunal:
I see everything one at a time, it gets difficult when you are juggling between film sets. Now I am doing Baahubali which is more challenging for me, people are keen about this film and they might also compare me so its exciting. There are other few movies as well.

Q. On what basis do you select your scripts?

Mrunal: The thing is, when people watch the film, they want to see themselves in the film and relate to it. Similarly, when I read the script, I feel that there must this one girl who wants to relate to the film. So in this initial phase of my career, it is important for me to be in the realistic phase because it allows me to connect to the audience. When they watch the film, they should connect to the character and not watch me as a star. I want people to know me as Supriya or Nandita or Sonia and then as Mrunal Thakur.

BY RUJUTA THETE

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