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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Mamangam actor Prachi Tehlan: Mammootty suggested me to watch The Crown

Television actor Prachi Tehlan is all set to make her Malayalam debut with Mammootty starrer Mamangam. The film releases on December 12.

Written by A. Kameshwari | New Delhi | Updated: December 9, 2019 5:33:11 pm
Mamangam actor Prachi Tehlan with Mammootty Mamangam marks Prachi Tehlan’s Mollywood debut. (Photo: Prachi Tehlan/Instagram)

Mammootty film Mamangam is all set to hit the screens on December 12. The film, which is about the Mamankam festival of the 18th century, follows the story of Chaaverukal who plot to overthrow the Zamorin rulers.

Apart from Mammootty, the film also stars Unni Mukundan and Prachi Tehlan.

Before becoming an actor, Prachi was a sportsperson. She was the former captain of the Indian Netball Team which represented India in the 2010 Commonwealth Games and other major Asian Championships in 2010-11. In fact, under her captaincy, the Indian team won its first medal in 2011 South Asian Beach Games.

Now, the Diya Aur Bati Hum actor is excited about her Malayalam debut. In an interview with indianexpress.com, she opened up about her journey.

How did the acting bug bite you?

Acting happened by chance. When I was working as a consultant with a firm, I was approached by Diya Aur Baati Hum’s production house through Facebook. I saw the message and discussed it with my family. I don’t have anyone in my family who comes from the industry. I come from a typical Jatt family where girls are usually kept away from any such exposure. However, I took a chance. My family was supportive. I auditioned for the role and in three days, I was an actor. So, that is how the journey began in 2016.

How was the shift from television to films?

When I worked on the television series for seven months, I was extremely busy. During that phase, I spoke to a lot of people from the industry and understood the culture. I knew that television would be restrictive or a limited platform because of my personality. Also, I guess films are very challenging in comparison to television.

Having said that, I have not tried my luck in Bollywood yet even though I know people in the industry. I wanted to gain experience. So, I worked in a couple of Punjabi films and then Ikyawann (Star Plus series) happened. It is during Ikyawann that I auditioned for Mamangam. I think my every experience in the industry helped me get Mamangam.

Tell us something about your role.

I play Unnimaaya. I am the main female lead in the film. She is an entertainer, performer and fighter. Unnimaaya is a strong woman. I am glad I am making South debut with this film.

What sort of prep went into the character?

While working on Ikyawann, I learnt Mohiniyattam. I used to work 13 hours a day. I would start my day by attending dance class then head to the shoot of the serial from 9 am to 9 pm. After coming back home, I used to learn Malayalam with the help of Malayali teacher Murali Krishnan. It really helped me as I could at least catch the diction.

Also, there is a fight sequence in the film. I did not get training for it. The makers called me to give a brief about the scene. They were so confident that being a sportsperson, I can pull it off. So, even I was charged that I can do it. Also, being a newbie, you have the curiosity to try everything.

So, can we say you coming from a sports background helped in your prep for Mamangam?

Whatever I am today, I give the credit to my sports background. Wherever I go, I encourage people to take up some sort of sports because it builds character. It teaches you discipline, punctuality and makes you take wins and losses with the same spirit. It is important to have the sportsman spirit.

How different is Mamangam from other historical films?

Beauty of Mamangam is that it is a non-fiction film. The Malayalam film industry is very content-driven. The films are intelligently and beautifully made. People of Kerala are excited about Mamangam as the story belongs to their history but being from the North, I would like the entire country to know about the festival that was celebrated for 280 years just like Kumbh Mela in North. So, this is a story of the unsung heroes. Also, the film has been mostly shot in real locations.

Is it justified to compare the film?

I think it is not justified to compare Mamangam with any other historical films because the makers are different and most importantly, the stories are extremely different.

It is a Mammootty film. Were you nervous about it?

I was not nervous. Maybe because I have not grown up watching his films. For me, it was like working with someone fresh.

I still remember I learnt my first dialogue so well only because it was a scene with him. I mugged it up so well. Mammuka was impressed and thrilled to see a newcomer like me, who has no idea about the culture or the language, was able to learn the dialogues well. He saw my hard work. He is fond of me. He responds to my messages. He is an adorable person. There is mutual respect. Whenever we would be on the set, he would suggest movies to me. He suggested me to watch The Crown on Netflix. He would also get me home-cooked food because I was craving for home food. He is a legend for a reason. He is a fabulous actor. So, it was very wonderful.

What’s the environment like on a Mammootty set?

The kind of aura he has, people go ‘Oh, Mammuka is here!’ So, I think that is something I want in life.

What projects are in the pipeline?

I would love to do films in Hindi. I am open to web series as well. But I am awed by the way South works. The kind of content they make, the technicians and their creativity is absolutely amazing. So, for a while, I will explore the South film industry. However, Bollywood is always in the to-do list.

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