Arty at heart

Arty at heart

Although she turned actress with the film W, Leeza Mangaldas continues to be an art lover. The newbie talks to Screen about spending her childhood in different cities and how the film has helped her become more confident

Leeza Mangaldas
Leeza Mangaldas

Launch vehicle

My debut film W, directed by Tarun Madan Chopra, had a strong message about crime against women and how the latter should prepare to fight against it at any cost. I play a young girl named Sandhya (referred to as Sandy in the film), whose personality is very much like me. She is vivacious, young, independent and absolutely carefree. One incident brings her life to a halt, but instead of lying low, she fights out.

Casting coup

I had just moved to Mumbai after finishing my arts course in New York. A good friend of mine was working on a documentary style campaign, for which she approached me. Although I was a bit hesitant, I decided to help my friend and took up the role. While filming one of the sequences in Andheri, I wanted to buy a bottle of water in between shots and walked towards a coffee shop. While paying for the bill, a man walked up to me and asked if I was interested in acting. I knew the area is well known for audition centers, where aspiring actors are found in numbers. I didn’t know how to react, but I thought of giving it a try. I have always been enthusiastic about trying new things. I auditioned and Chopra sir loved my screen test.

Stepping stone

I was born in Bangalore, but we moved to different cities. I have lived a major part of my childhood in Goa and then shifted to Kodaikanal to complete my schooling. I got my under-graduate degree from Columbia University, where I studied Liberal Arts. All through my life, there was no influence of Bollywood. I was brought up in mixed cultures and cities, and where I lived, I had hardly or no theatres at all. Besides, I was very plump and never considered myself glamorous. I never thought I could act. But, it was during my under-graduate course that I became aware of Bollywood films and how amazing they can be.

First shot


We started off with some light scenes, since the revenge and traumatic sequences were slightly more tough and the entire team was completely new. My first shot was filmed on the streets of Delhi, as I had to drive past the Rashtrapati Bhavan in an open car, with a cool attitude. Fortunately for us, we didn’t really require any ice breaking session, since we had done several workshops, which helped us bond. The comfort level was great and we filmed quite a few good shots on the first day.

The takeaway

Before this project, I didn’t know the course of my career, but the overall experience has given me a new direction in life. I am so much more confident in front of the camera. Things weren’t easy when we started shooting, since I have never had any acting experience.

Stumbling blocks

None! The entire shooting process was smooth and we didn’t face any major problem. But personally, as an actor, some of the revenge scenes were a little difficult. Some of the traumatic scenes and portions where we had to beat up the offenders would take a toll on me mentally, but thanks to Tarun Chopra and his tips, I could enact the scenes without any trouble.

Role model

I have several role models, but there are some people who stand out. People like Farhan Akhtar, Clint Eastwood, Aamir Khan among others have carved a niche for themselves.

Future projects

Although I am reading a few scripts, I don’t want to jump the gun and do random films. My art exhibitions and other work is keeping me occupied, so I am only looking for quality work in films.