Mithila Palkar on Karwaan: Working with Irrfan and Dulquer was daunting, but they eased me into it
Mithila Palkar has a knack for dodging stereotypes— be it her entry into the entertainment industry two years back, or landing a role Irrfan Khan and Dulquer Salmaan
Chatty and cheerful Mithila Palkar has a knack for dodging stereotypes time and again — be it her entry into the entertainment industry two years back, or landing a role in Bollywood alongside some of the finest talents like Irrfan Khan and Dulquer Salmaan. Palkar first got noticed when her take on American actress and singer Anna Kendrick’s 'Cup Song' from Pitch Perfect went viral. Since then, Palkar, the girl with an infectious smile, wonderful voice and trademark curly hair has gone on to become one of the most recognizable faces of Indian digital content, starring in movies, advertisements and web series. After a small role in Imran Khan-Kangana Ranaut starrer Katti Batti (2015), she has found herself sharing screen space with Irrfan and Salmaan in the upcoming road movie, Karwaan (to be released on 3 August).
“It was a blast working with the two. They are both extremely effortless and spontaneous. I learnt a lot about acting from them. To start with, of course, I was a little intimidated because I have grown up watching Irrfan Sir, and DQ (Dulquer) is also an extremely talented artiste. It was a little daunting but they both eased me into it. I was like that child who was thrown in Disneyland. But I knew Akarsh (Khurana, director) because we are both the alumni of the same theatre festival so he was my bouncing board. I’m a complete director’s actor,” says Palkar, who's extremely excited to be part of Karwaan, the film she describes as "a joyride of emotions that you see through comedy".
The fact that the trio comes from three different backgrounds made their equation more fun and interesting, says Palkar. “Irrfan Sir was always inquisitive and curious about how the Internet functions as an entertainment medium. He wanted to learn which was very inspiring. I really miss him because he brings the most refreshing flavour to the table. I was constantly in awe of him so I was a bit nervous initially but later on I realised that he was very approachable and accessible. Since Dulquer is closer to my age I got friendly with him first,” says Palkar, who’s always found singing. “Irrfan called me Binaca Geet Mala and DQ called me Jukebox. I would sing 70s, 80s song in front of Irrfan and DQ would request songs. DQ used to make me sing this song 'Paimona' from Coke studio and if he liked anything else that I was humming he would place the request for that song,” she laughs.
Palkar has always wanted to be an actor but she didn’t know how to go about it. “I liked Anna Kendrick’s 'Cup Song' and learnt it online through tutorials. It is very basic, just a four beat rhythm, and one summer afternoon I made the video by fitting in a simple Marathi song to the rhythm. Not in my wildest dreams I thought it would take me places,” says Palkar. The video, her rendition of the Marathi song 'Hi Chaal Turu Turu', has garnered more than 3.8 million views to date. With two of her most popular web series, she further went on to become the face of fearless small town women with big dreams in Girl In The City and normalised live-in relationships with Little Things. Palkar was also seen in critically acclaimed Marathi film Muramba (2017).
The young actress is happy to have not taken the stereotypical route to enter the entertainment industry. “Internet has opened a lot of opportunities for everyone, whether you are a film star you or you are an internet personality and making your way into movies. Say for instance, Sumeet Vyas. Everybody is open to exploring and even the audience is open to accepting new ideas. It’s an exciting time to be here. I just wanted to be an actor but I didn’t know how to go about it. So whatever opportunity came my way I made the most of it,” says Palkar.
She continues, “My first project itself was on the web. I have transitioned to do films and it is really great. But as much I want to do more films, I will continue to be part of it but I want to be part of the internet and theatre as well. My first Bollywood film was not a lead film. I was playing Imran’s sister. Stereotypes still exist but nobody will put you in that spot and you will not stick there. You will still manage to get out of it.”
After finding career and fame in an unpredictable and unplanned manner, Palkar would go about in Hindi movies exactly the way she has been going about so far. “I didn’t predict what would happen in these two years, so I don’t want to plan even now. I want to be part of good content. I have just started and I am only three films old. There is so much to explore. The world is my oyster right now. I am excited to see what is left to unveil,” says Palkar, who, in her very first TEDx Talk at NIT Silchar, Assam, spoke about the story of her life and how she succeeded in carving a niche for herself by simply following her heart.
But what will never change for Mithila is the attachment towards her family and friends who bring stability in her life. Palkar lives with her grandparents in a quaint house in Mumbai’s Dadar locality, and she says that they are extremely supportive of her career and new found fame. “My grandparents are not affected by all this at all and therefore my home becomes my reality check. I still go home and live the same life I have been living so far. They don’t treat me like any celebrity. I still go with my grandfather to the bank. Nothing has changed or is going to change and I am glad that even my best friends, my school friends also keep me grounded. Whenever I go home I feel this is my real life, this is where I belong,” she concludes.
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