Amruta Khanvilkar is getting flooded with praise post the success of her latest Hindi film Raazi. The Meghna Gulzar directorial, starring Alia Bhatt and Vicky Kaushal, is winning hearts for its sleek plot and amazing performances. And Amruta is part of its formidable cast. In an exclusive chat with indianexpress.com, the popular Marathi actor spills the beans about her casting, working with Meghna and Alia and her biggest support – her husband and actor Himmanshoo Malhotra.
Amruta’s flamboyance is evident as we began our chat. She told us how Raazi has brought her accolades from even Hindi speaking audience. “I was very confident that my Marathi audience will love Raazi. But Hindi people also received it so beautifully, especially my character. There was a mention of my name, my acting, my Urdu… That was very surprising and good. Though my Marathi films are known to people, being a part of a Hindi film and such a good one makes a lot of difference. And that difference I can see in people’s treatment and the way they look at me right now,” said Amruta.
Amruta Khanvilkar plays the character of Munira, Alia’s sister in law, who loses her husband. Recalling her auditions, she told us, “I had auditioned for the scene where Alia and I are climbing up the stairs. Next day Meghna Ma’am told me what exactly she loved about the audition. Though it was only four lines, she told me I got a hold of my character with perfection, while others (who auditioned) did not even understand the tone. Obviously, we did work on the dialogues and diction, but that nerve of the character, she told me to follow exactly that.”
Elaborating more on playing Munira, Amruta explained, “Every dialogue or emotion I portrayed, I thought at the back of my mind that this happened with someone in real. So that kind of really shook me. For no reason, her husband gets killed. We shot the funeral scene extensively, though it wasn’t shown as much in the film. Playing a Pakistani Muslim from that era based on a real character, I think that was very difficult. I never heard so many Urdu words in my life!”
I asked her how was it having two powerhouse women on sets, Meghna and Alia, and she said, “There used to be a pin drop silence on the set of around 300 people. That’s the kind of aura Meghna Ma’am has. She is the warmest person you can meet. There were times when I wasn’t there in the scene but I will still sit in the corner and just watch her. Because the film is set in 1970s, the body language of Munira is so homely and graceful, and somewhere Meghna Ma’am was an inspiration. Also, I did this film because I wanted to work with her.”
Amruta Khanvilkar further said Alia Bhatt comes with no air on the sets. She shared how Alia checked over her when she was down with high fever once. From having badminton sessions to Alia sending handwritten notes to everyone, Amruta has fond memories of working with her co-star. “Alia is such a secured actor. You hardly find such actors. At such a young age, she has achieved so much stardom, but despite that, she is the most grounded person I’ve ever worked with. It really reflects in her upbringing. So being around these two women in the film is really something,” said Amruta.
And as for working with Vicky, who has a very prominent supporting role in Raazi, Amruta said, “You give him any character and Vicky just transforms onscreen. But he is very mischievous too. He jokes a lot. So I had fun with Vicky.”
“This is a film where the supporting cast has received the same credit and footage. And there was no differentiation. I think that’s what comes across onscreen as well. Every character has been given an important part to play,” she added.
Amruta Khanvilkar, who has appeared in Bollywood films like Mumbai Salsa, Hattrick, Phoonk, Himmatwala and Rangoon, explained why Raazi actually works. “Raazi does not preach about any one country. The time when the film is set, war was a matter of fact. Everyone was doing their duty for their country. You can’t say who is right or who is wrong. On a human level, somewhere for me what is special was to live that character named Munira who must have lived at that time, whose entire family was destroyed. It’s a true story. So Meghna Ma’am was confident that this subtleness will definitely work. We don’t need to scream on top of our voice if we have patriotism in our heart,” she explained.
So what’s her preferred space – Marathi cinema or Bollywood? “Marathi films has made me a household name. Today, Marathi people are very proud of me that our ‘Marathi mulgi’ is a part of Raazi. So, it’s like when people at home praise you, you get a different kind of kick. Marathi cinema is my first love. You can never take that away from me. That’s my roots,” she said.
Amruta also mentioned how her latest projects have pushed her as an actor. “Last year, when I shot Raazi, Satyamev Jayate and a Hungama web series, I realised these are the characters I’ve never played before. In the Hungama web series, I play a Christian psycho killer which I’ve never done before. I’m really excited about Satyamev Jayate. Firstly, I’m paired opposite Manoj Bajpayee. That itself was so nice. So this year I got to work with some really powerful talent houses.”
I further asked her about how her husband takes her success. She said, “I’m a very typical Maharashtrian middle-class person. If people in my state know me, I’m very happy with that. So, today if I’m doing Hindi films, it is only because of Himmanshoo. He tells me, I should audition for this part and that part. He has a bigger vision for me.”
Amruta and Himmanshoo had won the dance reality show Nach Baliye 7. Revealing more about her personal life, she told us, “Someone had said that Amruta is like a flag who keeps flying here and there but the one keeping her grounded like a pole is Himmanshoo.”
A self-proclaimed Ranveer Singh fan, Amruta Khanvilkar couldn’t gush any less at the mention of his name. Mentioning her fangirl moment when she met him recently, I asked her what’ll happen if she actually gets to work with him, and she replied, “I don’t know! I really don’t know! But his energy is so fabulous. He is infectious, contagious. I think this is amazing. Somewhere I try to follow him in real life. He is there for his fans. I love that about him. For me Ranveer Singh is magical. I try to maintain that kind of connection with fans. I totally love him. He played the character of Bajirao and spoke Marathi, that was enough for me! (laughs)”