February 7, 2014 1:00:44 am
Singer Monali Thakur has come a long way since her days as an Indian Idol contestant. She talks about making her debut as an actress with Nagesh Kukunoor’s Lakshmi
Launch vehicle: In Nagesh Kukunoor’s Lakshmi, I play a fourteen-year-old village girl from Andhra Pradesh. Due to unfortunate circumstances, the girl is pushed into prostitution and her life changes forever. But she is rescued and eventually musters up the courage to fight against all odds and drag the people responsible for the upheaval to the court. It’s a real story of victory and courage.
Casting coup: I was jamming with a few artists at a party, where Nagesh (Kukunoor) sir saw me and asked if I was interested in acting. I just couldn’t say no. He told me to audition for the film and also narrated a few portions of script. I gave an audition and fortunately, everything fell into place. I feel thankful to god that I didn’t have to go through the regular drill of auditions that most aspiring actors generally face.
Stepping stone: Being the youngest child at home, I have always been pampered. My family has been supportive of my choices and when I decided to participate in Indian Idol, they were the first ones to give me the push. The first season of Indian Idol became extremely popular and that’s why I decided to try my luck in the second season. I got eliminated at an early stage, but that helped my career as I got a few gigs and a couple of months later, Pritam (Chakraborthy) signed me for a few television jingles. I did several other projects, but it was only with songs like Zara zara touch me and Sawaar loon that I got recognition. But with Lakshmi, I have finally got a chance to prove myself as an actress.
First shot: On day one, I was extremely nervous. I have always been behind the mic, so facing the camera gave me butterflies in the stomach. We were filming a couple of important sequences in the brothel and the shooting was done in Hyderabad. I was a little scared because performing in front of an excellent director like Nagesh and rubbing shoulders with brilliant actors like Shefali Shah and Satish Kaushik was certainly intimidating.
The takeaway: The biggest thing is that I have understood to be more spontaneous and natural. There was so much to learn from everyone on the sets. I have also learned to be more disciplined, humble and definitely much more organised.
Stumbling blocks: The most difficult thing was to look my part as the character is almost half my real age. I wanted to make sure that I don’t overact or ham. That was biggest hurdle that I had to overcome.
Role model: My father has been the biggest inspiration in my life. He is extremely talented and has been instrumental in bringing a lot of discipline in my life. He is an outstanding singer, a brilliant actor (he worked in a few Bengali films) and moreover, he is the most amazing father.
Future projects: I am reading a few scripts, but I am waiting for Laxmi to showcase my performance. That way, I will get to know how the audience reacts to my work. My second film, Mango, will release soon. I am also getting to work on some great compositions, so I am trying to balance both my roles well.
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