GETTING USED TO THE GRIND
After the success of Super 30, Mrunal Thakur talks about her life post her debut film, Love Sonia, being smitten by Hrithik Roshan and her upcoming projects, including Batla House and Baahubali: Before The Beginning
You had a rather unconventional debut with Love Sonia. Was it a conscious decision to foray into a more commercial space with subsequent films such as Super 30 and Batla House?
I just wanted to learn. The situation was such that Love Sonia took a while to release after we finished shooting. Nobody knew what I had done. Nobody knew Love Sonia; nobody knew that I was playing Sonia. There was a phase when I still had to work on myself, look for projects and test for them. Super 30 was one of them. It was a conscious decision to choose a typical Bollywood film. I am such a workaholic that I wanted to be part of a good project where I could learn something. Super 30 has such an amazing story. It is an inspiring story of Mr Anand Kumar and his journey.
Going back to your first film, you played the titular character. Super 30 and Batla House are male-centric films. What was it about your characters in these films that made you to take them up?
Like I said, I came aboard Super 30 because I wanted to utilise the time before Love Sonia released. I didn't want to sit idle, I wanted to be part of films that would have an impact on the audience. Hence, Super 30. Coming to Batla House, a lot of my family members are in the police department. I've seen things very closely and I know what a cop goes through when he has duties. They can't give excuses. Irrespective of whether it's raining or there are floods, they have to just go and do their duty. Inspite of being at their best, they get criticised for a lot of issues. I could relate to Batla House.
So far, we have seen you in emotionally intense roles. Will we see you in a light-hearted film anytime soon?
I would love to! There are so many directors who are doing such amazing work. After Love Sonia, what was in my head was I really wanted to play a character with a great sense of humour. I wanted to do comedy films where I could explore my comic timing. To be very honest, as an actor and performer, I think intense scenes are very easy. You just need to think of something which is not happy and you can just enact that. When it comes to comedy, it is a combination of everything. The first thing is timing; it is about how alert you are. It should not look onscreen that I'm trying too hard; it should look effortless. To make someone laugh is difficult. You can cry and make others cry with you when you share your stories. But comedy is something that's really difficult and I want to be part of a film where I can do comedy.
Mrunal, you are a self-confessed Hrithik fan. When you were before the camera with him, sharing the same frame, how did you separate the fan in you from the co-actor?
Trust me, it was very difficult! Thank God, I wasn't part of any workshop or any of the look-test that Hrithik did else I would've lost my focus. I straightaway saw him on the set. I met him on the first day. The first scene that we had together was the Ganga ghat scene. I was sitting there waiting for him to arrive. When he arrived, I was smitten. It was difficult but he made me feel very comfortable. I'm so happy to share screen space with him.
If you are an actor today, there are other things that come along with it. There's social media, there are airport looks, there is the paparazzi following you everywhere. How do you perceive these things?
Of course, it's pressure! Sometimes I used to look at Janhvi (Kapoor) and Sara (Ali Khan) and I used to feel so happy that there's no media around me. During the day one and day two promotions of Super 30, I was very nervous. Hrithik helped me. He said to me, 'Let's begin with left, then move to centre and finally right. Once you are done with your 180 degrees, look at the photographers who are calling your name and pose for them.' Then things got easy.
You are all set to play Sivagami in Baahubali: Before The Beginning. Any update on that?
I don't think I can talk much about it. It's an iconic character and I'm very excited to play Sivagami in Baahubali: Before The Beginning.
Is there any pressure of living up to Ramya Krishnan who played Sivagami in the Baahubali film series?
There's no pressure but internally, I sometimes feel responsible because a lot of people have connected to that character. They have high hopes from me as well. I hope I can match up to the benchmark that Ramya has set for the audience. She was impeccable and so expressive.
Do you have a dream director that you would really want to work with?
There are so many! I'm a big Marvel fan. When Avengers: Endgame was about to release, everyone was talking about Marvel and Robert Downey Jr. And I was wondering who he is! I used to feel like Marvel films are not for girls. Now I want to be part of the Marvel (Cinematic) Universe and the whole sci-fi world and wear those outfits and be like Iron Man and Wonder Woman! The very thought ignites me. Among Indian directors, I would really want to work with Sanjay Leela Bhansali sir. The way he shoots, his characters, his vision are impeccable. Recently, I re-watched Black. It has immense repeat value. Jab We Met and Tamasha are two of my favourite films. So I want to work with Imtiaz Ali for sure. Then there is Zoya Akhtar. Gully Boy was so good.