I was happy about not wasting time on make-up: Monali Thakur
For singer-turned-actor Monali Thakur, the best thing about playing the 14-year-old protagonist in Nagesh Kukunoor's Lakshmi is that she didn't have to bother about looking pretty
The last time we heard Monali Thakur, she was crooning the melodious number Sawaar loon from Lootera. But anyone who’s seen her in the promos of Nagesh Kukunoor’s upcoming film Lakshmi, has been left shaken by the hard-hitting storyline on human trafficking and child prostitution. The Kolkata-based singer, who made Mumbai her home six years ago, came into the limelight after participating in the second season of Indian Idol. Although she has faced the camera before for a Bengali film, this is the first time she will be seen in a Hindi movie. Twenty-six year old Monali, who will be seen playing the 14-year-old protagonist in Lakshmi, says she’s nervous and excited about her debut and that she couldn’t have asked for a better role to begin her Bollywood journey with. Excerpts from an interview:
Nagesh Kukunoor has said in interviews that he spotted you at a party and decided to take you in his film. Is that how it happened?
Yes, although I just don’t remember what I spoke to him at the party! (laughs) I was at Abbas Tyrewala’s Christmas party and Nagesh sir was there as well. He has always been one of my favourite directors and I have watched his every film. I was sitting and jamming with some of my musician friends when I saw him sitting in front of me. I was so intimidated and didn’t know how to approach him. He called me a month later and asked me whether I would like to audition for Lakshmi. I was stunned and agreed immediately. He reminded me recently that he had asked me at the party whether I was interested in acting and I had said yes. But I was so nervous that I don’t remember that part.
The film is far from glamorous and deals with something as serious as human trafficking. Were there any apprehensions in your mind about taking up this role as your debut?
There was absolutely no question of being apprehensive. Firstly, I was getting to work with a director like Nagesh sir, whom I greatly admire. When I heard the story, I thought to myself that this is an opportunity that very few first-time actors get. How many first-time actresses get to play the title role? Glamourous roles can happen anytime but to play Lakshmi, which is such a strong and impactful character, was something I couldn’t let go of. I didn’t even think of things like I won’t be looking pretty in my first film. In fact, I was really happy that there was not going to be any waste of time applying make-up. (laughs)
You’re playing a 14-year-old in the movie. What were the things you had to take care of?
The movie was shot in digital camera and that captures everything. So I had to take very good care of my skin, so that it looks fresh. I had been told that I will not get any help from make-up, so I was extra cautious. It’s only in later parts of the film that there is heavy make-up. The movie has been realistically shot. It is hard-hitting, but it also shows a ray of hope for girls like Lakshmi. Even after what she goes through, she stays strong. That’s the reason she is such a heroic character and why I think I will not get a role like this again to play.
Your next film is Abbas Tyrewala’s Mango. What is that film about?
Yes, Mango is my second film. It’s a romantic comedy and it cannot get more different from my first film. Pakhi, Abbas’ wife, is a friend and she had seen me at the audition of Lakshmi. She suggested my name to Abbas, who had already thought of casting me but for another role, which Swara (Bhaskar) is playing now. The shoot of the film is over and it will release soon.
Now that you have become an actor, will singing take a backseat?
Definitely not. In fact, I think acting will help me with my singing career. I have sung a wonderful song for Lakshmi. There is a blues and jazz track for Mango that I have lent my voice to, which according to me, is one of the best songs of my career so far. Singing and acting will both take frontseat now.