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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

First of Many: Vaishnavi MacDonald revisits Veerana

This week's First of Many features Vaishnavi MacDonald. In the 82nd edition of our exclusive series, the actor talks about her first Bollywood project, Ramsay Brothers' film, Veerana (1988).

Written by Mimansa Shekhar | New Delhi |
Updated: May 25, 2021 4:06:43 pm
veerana ramsay brothersVeerana (1988) was directed by Shyam Ramsay and Tulsi Ramsay. (Photo: Instagram/vaishnavimacdonald_official)

Actor Vaishnavi MacDonald is a popular face on television today, having worked in TV shows like Kasautii Zindagii Kay, Chhoona Hai Aasmaan, Miley Jab Hum Tum, Sasural Genda Phool, Dil Se Dil Tak, Aye Mere Humsafar and many more.

We also remember Vaishnavi MacDonald as the chirpy Geeta Vishwas in popular show Shaktimaan from the late 1980s, apart from films like Laadla, Baabul and Super Nani.

But interestingly, MacDonald began her acting career at a young age, with a genre not many would wish to pick as their first. Here’s what the actor shared about being part of Ramsay Brother’s popular movie, Veerana.

What was your first acting project? How did the project come to you?

My first movie happened at the age of 9. It was a horror film called Veerana (1988). I wasn’t inclined towards acting. One of my uncles JK Ahuja who used to write for thrillers and Ramsay Brothers, had also written Veerana. Through him we got to know that they were looking for a girl with an expressive face to play the child version of heroine Jasmin Dhunna. My uncle somehow convinced my parents to let me do this.

veerana ramsay vaishnavi mcdonald Vaishnavi MacDonald was nine-year-old when she worked in Veerana.

What do you remember of your first day on set?

The first day of shoot happened at a bungalow called Giri Kunj near Dharmendra ji and Sunny Deol’s house. It’s still there. My first shot was on the balcony with big actors like Vijayendra Ghatge and Kulbhushan Kharbanda. In the scene, I had to look down and keep my eyes open, because I’m possessed. And when you keep your eyes open for a long time, they start burning. I took some retakes because of that but eventually we got a good shot. My character gets possessed when she is small.  The witch takes control of her.

Were you nervous? How many retakes did you take?

I never wanted to become an actor. I was a very studious person. So when I first faced the camera, I was very nervous. Somehow, that nervousness is not visible on screen. But that whole thing came out well and producers-directors were very happy despite it being my first stint on camera.

I think it was the first time this whole horror thing started, with ghosts, demons, witches and scary faces. The film, however, did not have many actors in prosthetics because it was more of a supernatural thing. Only the witch who possesses this girl needed prosthetics. I used to see this actor, I forgot her name, doing makeup everyday. There’s one famous scene in the film where the witch pulls me in the coffin. People always asked me if I didn’t feel scared doing that. But I was okay because we had the same witch having lunch with us in the afternoon. Then there were 100 unit members around. So there was no fear as such. It’s scary for those who watch the movie.

How was the rapport with your co-stars when you got to meet or work with them again later?

Those days, we didn’t have mobile phones to keep in touch. So we were around for sometime and then everybody went their way and lost touch. I think even Jasmin Dhunna disappeared after that. Only Sahila Chadha is around I guess. She was with CINTAA. I worked with Kulbhushan Kharbanda later in TV show Mere Ghar Aayi Ek Nanhi Pari.

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If given a chance to go back to your debut role, what would you like to change or do better?

Though even at that age I was critical of my own performance. But they presented me very well. Half of the film was based on the child. It was an interesting film for that particular time when things were not so technically advanced like say, Vikram Bhatt films today. But whatever it had for that genre and limitations, it was a well made film. And it did well as against many other Ramsay films which didn’t have a great run.

One film or role that inspired you to become an actor?

My father was an English movies lover so he would take us to theatres to watch all latest films. I loved The Mask, the old one.

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