There aren’t many Indian women, who can boast of starring in an international film as their debut into movies. Mrunal Thakur is that name, who started her film career with the critically acclaimed international film Love Sonia.
Since Love Sonia released in 2018, the Maharashtrian actor has been slowly and steadily making her mark in the world of films, with blockbusters such as Super 30, Batla House and now her recently released Toofaan. The pretty actor who started her journey in television, is composed, focused, joyful and very optimistic about her work and life. We wanted to hear more from Mrunal about her latest flick and how she got the role. Here are excerpts from her interview which took place ahead of Amazon Prime’s Toofaan release.
By Fatima Patel
Hey, Mrunal looking lovely. So, tell us how did the role of Dr Ananya in Toofaan happen for you?
Well, I was dubbing for Batla House and that’s when Rakesh sir spoke to Nikhil Advani sir. Rakesh sir was like, ‘can I come to the dubbing studio and just see what she looks like on screen?’ He came and watched our lines. We never spoke about Toofaan, or that he is making a movie and considering me for a part, but the next day after the meeting I auditioned for the part, and I felt really happy.
It was my dream to work with Rakesh Omprakash Mehra. When I met him, I felt like the purpose of my life is done, by meeting him. And at that time, I felt I don’t care if I get the movie or not, but I would love to be a part of his film. I was also prepared that, if I didn’t get the part, I am happy because at least I met him, I entered his office, where I could see those national awards, those certificates and those trophies for Bhaag Milkha Bhaag or Rang De Basanti. He is this filmmaker who has this vision and I feel he is way ahead of his time and the kind of experience he has is impeccable.
Now that your dream has come true, what is it like working with Rakesh Omprakash Mehra? Is he strict on sets?
(Laughs) He looks strict, but he is this soft cute human. I got involved on sets like I was with family. I never felt pressurised when I was performing in front of him [Rakesh Omprakash Mehra]. He always told me, Mrunal I want you to feel the scene and not act. There were times when I had moments where I couldn’t give my best. He would just watch me and ask me questions like ‘what would you do if this happens to you? What would you do if this happened with your father, mother or sister?’ I said I would get angry. He said exactly, that’s what you have to do and that’s when I realised it was so simple. He mentioned one day that all you have to do is react to the circumstances around you, the situation around you. He is a big fan of shooting in real locations, which you will see in the movie. We’ve shot in chaotic and the busiest streets in Mumbai, where most of the time there was just standing space. The entire team was supportive. It was the best experience of my career. I really enjoyed it.
Toofaan is touted to be a Farhan Akhtar film, but from the trailer I picked out quite a strong female lead too. Dr Ananya, who you play is the one who drives the male protagonist. Did you use anyone other than the guidance from your director to seek reference for your character?
Yes, so Ananya is an amalgamation of what my writers wrote and what my director briefed me. Also, the co-actors – what they thought Ananya should be like and Farhan himself is a director so there were times where I would go to him and ask what would she do and his input really helped me. Further, I feel all the people who have inspired me, Mrunal, I have taken those qualities from them, trying not to give away the spoiler, but one thing is for sure, you will be able to relate to Ananya to yourself, or to people who are always inspired by or those who even on gloomy days or a sad day, they make you feel good about yourself and there are very rare people like this.
I am really blessed to have such people in my life who have made sure that Mrunal is not a person who feels rejected or dealt with failure. Or Mrunal who is going to appear on big screen or appear with Farhan Akhtar and many actors. So, there were situations in my life where I felt like giving up, but there were friends and family who always pushed me and told me that Mrunal, if you have jumped into this well, then jump fully, don’t jump half-way.
Your character in Toofaan is like that. She isn’t passive is she and pushes people to be their best?
She’s not that bechari, just sitting at home waiting for her husband or boyfriend. She’s like listen you’ve got to live your life. Ananya I feel has a lot of pain or wounds, but how she comes out as a winner and maybe that’s why she is a doctor she wants to fix the broken souls around her.
Sounds like such a well written female character. Such roles are rare for women in Bollywood, so how does it feel for you to have landed such a role so early on in your career?
Fatima, I would like to tell your viewers that there are a few people who pray, they believe in God. I believe in God, because my mother does and I believe in her. The second thing is I believe in energy, I believe in vibes, I believe in manifestation and visualisation. I had visualised being where I am today, but I did not expect that I would be here in seven years, where I thought it would take me ten years or 15 to 20 films down the line and that’s when I would get the opportunity to work with these filmmakers. It’s like what Shahrukh Khan says: ‘kisi bhee cheez aap shiddat se chaho, to sari kayinaat, use milan ki saazish mein lag jaati hain’ (if you ask for something with sincerity then all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it). I know I may sound filmy, but that’s who I am. Trust me guys if you really want something, you need to work hard for it, you need to believe in yourself. You need to have faith in yourself, but at the same time you need to wait, because everything happens, but at the right time. I waited seven years and here I am in front of you all.
Catch the full interview on YouTube channel Asian Sunday TV at:
Feature image: Pallav Paliwal