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Friday, August 14, 2020

The Casino actor Mandana Karimi: For years, I tried to be as Indian as possible

Actor Mandana Karimi on her new web series The Casion, her co-star Karanvir Bohra and more.

Written by A. Kameshwari | New Delhi | Updated: June 12, 2020 3:42:05 pm
mandana karimi on zee5 series The Casino Mandana Karimi’s The Casino is streaming on ZEE5. (Photo: Mandana Karimi/Instagram)

Actor Mandana Karimi, who plays Rehana in ZEE5 latest web series The Casino, recently interacted with indianexpress.com on Instagram. The actor spoke about her character in the series, her bond with Karanvir Bohra, among more.

Here are excerpts from the conversation:

Tell us about your character Rehana in The Casino.

I am playing a gay character. She is very strong and knows exactly what she wants. One thing that is common between me and her is the fact that we don’t give up. If we fall, we bounce back stronger. Also, she is a villain in the show but you will also see her human side, which is quite beautiful. I had so much fun being her.

This is my first web-series and first project as a lead. I have so much to do as a character in the web-series. You will see her (Rehana) growing with each episode. I worked on the graph of the character, which was something new. The best part was that within a week of the shoot, people were calling me Rehana because I started behaving like her. I had great co-stars and great help from my director. So, it was quite fun.

Casino is all about taking chances. Are you a risk-taker in real life too?

Always! In my life, taking risks has always been a huge part. I left Iran at the age of 18. That was the biggest risk, which worked out in my favour. Then I came to India and became a part of the film industry without any support or idea of what it is all about. Now, I have been living here for nine years. I think sometimes to move forward, you have to take risk. Of course, you have to be calculative about it.

The series has a lot of intimate scenes.

When I met my director, he asked me if I was okay about shooting intimate scenes. So, I asked him if he is trying to sell sex or it has something to do with the character. Our filmmaker has a thought behind every scene. He told me Rehana knows that she is extremely good looking, which she is cashing in on. Rehana is using sexuality to get what she wants, which made sense to me.

My intimate scenes are with Karanvir and Sudhanshu. They made me extremely comfortable on the sets.

This might also lead to a conversation on how OTT needs to be censored. Do you have a take on it?

I feel censorship ruins the feel or meaning of a scene to an extent. You, as an actor or a filmmaker, have to be true to the character. For instance, so many things were cut off in my film Kya Kool Hain Hum. When people watched it, so many of the scenes did not make sense. Every scene is related to each other. If one scene is chopped, meaning of the other disappears.

How was it working with Karanvir?

In the second schedule of the series, just before the shoot of an intimate scene, Karanvir and I got into this huge fight. We fought in front of everybody and they really thought that we won’t be able to shoot the intimate scene. We literally yelled at each other. After a couple of minutes, he came up to me and said we are professionals, let’s get over with the shoot. So, I was like okay! When the shoot got over, we apologised to each other.

We had this Tom and Jerry kind of relationship. I spent a lot of time with his wife and kids too. We grew closer and of course, that reflected in the characters we were playing. So, it was easy breezy.

How was it to learn pole dancing?

Pole dancing requires incredible shoulder and core strength. Also, I heard it is tough to shoot too.

Two days before the (song) shoot, I met my trainer. She was doing these amazing moves. I took her to the side and asked, ‘how do you think I will do this?’ She said, ‘you will learn it.’ She was amazing. She started teaching me basics. In 45 minutes, I was learning how to swirl around the pole. Now, I am somebody who puts my mind and soul into something if I have to learn. So, I ended up doing it for three hours but when I woke up next morning, I could not move. I was so sore and was covered in bruises. The director called up a doctor who gave some medicines to help with my soreness. We stared the shoot but I cannot tell you how much pain I was in. It was one hell of an experience.

You’ve had your own ups and downs on the personal front. Has that affected you?

If I say it has not, it will be a lie. We all are humans. We have been made to feel, emote and be vulnerable. The only thing that has changed is how I manage all that comes my way. The profession I am in, my life is out there and I face rejection everyday. It is part of our life and I have learnt to deal with it.

What can you tell us about your upcoming projects?

I had to shoot for a series in May and another in March. I did a movie, a horror comedy, with Sunny Leone. It is a fun film. We still have a song to shoot. So, I cannot wait to get back to the sets.

Over the years, what has Mumbai or working in the film industry taught you?

I learned that you don’t need to fit in. For years, I tried to be as Indian as possible. But eventually, I realised people should accept you for who you are. Trying to fit in is the biggest mistake one can make. That realisation is what made me post my childhood photos too because I felt people do not know me and they need to know where I come from.

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