RISING STAR MRUNAL THAKUR ON HER SUPER 30 SUCCESS, NEXT FILM AND FUTURE PLANS by ASJAD NAZIR Rising star Mrunal Thakur has followed up a stunning performance in her debut film Love Sonia with another striking turn in her recently-released second film Super 30 opposite Hrithik Roshan. The in-demand actress won’t have much time to bask in the success of Super 30 because she will next be seen in fast-paced thriller Batla House, which will hit cinemas on August 15. With even more projects on the way, including hotly-anticipated Netflix series Baahubali: Before The Beginning, Mrunal looks unstoppable and was in good spirits when Eastern Eye caught up with her for an in-depth interview. How did you feel about all the praise you received for your superb performance in Love Sonia? There was a lot of mixed emotions, but the overall response was very overwhelming. Some thought the film was dark, but others said they left the theatres with a glimpse of hope, which made me really happy. I was also entering cinema in 2018 when things were already changing as far as the content and audiences are concerned. The fact we were able to screen the film in so many countries really helped Love Sonia convey an important message globally. How do you feel now that your second film Super 30 has released and received such a great response? I feel very overwhelmed and blessed to be part of such an inspirational film tracing the journey of Anand Kumar, who is played impeccably by Hrithik Roshan. It has been amazing to see the magic Hrithik has created on screen. I was his fan, but now I feel like he is my superhero. Dreams are coming true. It did take a lot of time, it is difficult, but it is not impossible for those dreams to come true. How would you describe the Super 30 journey? It has been an incredible journey. I never thought I would be able to play a girl from Patna, who speaks Hindi, but with a Bihari touch to it. I learned a lot while working on Super 30, including kathak, which has helped me not only for Super 30, but also my upcoming projects, Batla House and Baahubali. Now I feel I can express more after being present on the set of such a good Bollywood project. What was it like working with a technically-gifted actor like Hrithik Roshan? To be honest, when I started working with him I was under a lot of pressure and thought, whether I would be able to pull it off or if I would be fangirling around him all the time, but I didn’t want to lose the focus. I worked hard, learned my lines way in advance and made sure I didn’t fumble on the set or go for maximum retakes. But he is so comfortable to work with and helped me find out what my character would be like. Tell us more… He sat down and helped create a backstory for her that isn’t even written in the script. Hrithik Roshan, as a performer, makes sure he researches his characters thoroughly and knows each and everything. He fills in each little gap, even if it is not in the screenplay. Sometimes, people forget how good a performer he is in front of his good looks. How much do the glowing reviews and positive reactions to Super 30 mean to you? I watched the film with my parents. They said, ‘not for a moment did we think we were watching Hrithik Roshan, Mrunal Thakur or the other actors, because you all played the parts so well’. They were on the edge of their seats and were able to connect with moments in the movie. People in the theatre were not from any film background and that included an engineer, who said she could relate to the film. For her, it was a slice of life, which is a huge compliment. If people are able to connect to Anand Kumar’s journey and enjoy the film, I feel, as a performer and being part of Super 30, our mission is accomplished. Did you connect with any moments in the film? There were moments like when the students are unable to speak English, because I encountered the same challenge when I first came to Mumbai, in terms of speaking the language fluently. I faced prejudices of not speaking English well and had to work hard to train myself and learn the language, which I did in ways, including learning song lyrics. When you were a kid, which teacher was your inspiration? I changed schools 11 times because of my dad’s government job, which meant we were constantly moving. But from all 11 schools, I had teachers whom I learned so much from. One of my teachers taught me to enjoy my studies and showed us ways to enjoy the process. He taught me that whatever you do will take time, but you have to make sure you give your 100 per cent and just wait patiently. That, if you do not enjoy the process you will not enjoy the output. So, whatever you do, you either do it wholeheartedly or not do it at all. Who else really inspired you? My father. There was a phase in my career when I thought nothing is going to happen. I had quit the number one TV show and wanted to do films, but things were taking time. But my dad said, ‘whatever happens, happens for the best’. He said, ‘if there are any projects that are not coming your way, maybe something better is waiting for you’ and that is when Love Sonia happened. I absolutely believe in this statement from my dad; it might sound a bit philosophical, but it is true that whatever happens, happens for the best. How do you feel having two films coming out within weeks of each other? I feel really blessed. I never thought the films would release back to back. It is just a coincidence that I am watching Super 30 and the Batla House trailer is attached to the film. I am overwhelmed to be a part of Batla House and playing such a great character. I never thought I would be playing important roles in Bollywood, but the dream is coming true. What can you tell us about your character in Batla House? I play John Abraham’s wife in the film. She is a news anchor and journalist, and it is about how she helps her husband. It is also an unusual love story, which you will get to know once you watch the film. It is about how she helps Sanjeev Kumar find out what the truth is and what actually happened in Batla House. What is the master plan going forward? People are saying your master plan is that you started with an artistic film like Love Sonia, where you can impress filmmakers worldwide and get going, but that was not the plan. I am just going with my gut instinct. I should feel the character when I read it. I just want to be part of good projects that take me out of my comfort zone and entertain audiences; like in Baahubali, where I get to play Sivagami, which is a completely different character to what I have played before. As an actor, I want to surprise my audiences when they watch me. So there is no master plan, Asjad! What inspires you? I think, it is a combination of passion, dedication and, of course, good work, which is important. The work should make an impact and when you come back home you should get that good night’s sleep. It is when you are satisfied with your work and when you make your family proud. I’m also inspired by the people I work with. Whoever we meet, we meet for a reason and can learn from them. I am also inspired by real and genuine people. Those who are good at something in whatever field, including everyday people you meet, also inspire me.
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