Mouni Roy on RAW, the upcoming Brahmastra, and how her transition from TV to Bollywood has gone so far
Mouni Roy is on a roll. After making a splash with her work on television with supernatural shows like Devon Ke Dev…Mahadev and Naagin, it looks like the actress is set to conquer Bollywood as well, thanks to her humongous fan base. Gold, alongside Akshay Kumar marked her debut last year, and even when the film wasn’t out, she had already signed three more films including the just-released RAW, opposite John Abraham. Come Christmas and she will be seen in a negative avatar alongside Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt in Ayan Mukerji's fantasy film, Brahmastra, produced by Karan Johar. Not just the mainstream actors, she will also be seen in pivotal roles with powerhouse of talents like Rajkummar Rao and Nawazuddin Siddiqui in Made In China and Bole Chudiyan respectively. The actress opens up on her journey and what made her do a complete transition to the big screen, in a freewheeling chat with Firstpost.
With four movies back-to-back and three releases this year, you must be having a packed schedule?
No, it is not as bad. I still manage two to three days of holiday every month. Hours are slightly more flexible as compared to television. In television, there was work, work and only work but now I get some breathing space. But it is not that I am happy only now; I was happy even when I was doing television. I was in a great space and I was doing the best work. I would get the best of shows. I am happy now particularly because after 10 years of television, I have made the transition and I feel slightly accepted in movies. I don’t know how it has happened but I am looking forward to all the four films that will come out. It has been just one-and-a-half years now. It’s too soon to say about how my career will shape in Bollywood.
How did these films happen? And were you apprehensive about leaving television?
After I bagged Gold, and while I was still thinking of doing Naagin 3, I was offered Brahmastra. Now since it’s a negative role in Brahmastra, I felt I must do Naagin 3 but soon after I got RAW. I’ve given auditions in the past but RAW just happened. I went for a meeting and the team instantly felt I suited the character as I have an old-world vibe and they offered me the role. In the meantime, Made In China also fell into my lap. So I got all these films together last year and that’s when I felt that this is a sign, an indication to make the transition.
It’s taken nearly a decade for your film career to happen, were you restless at any point of time?
No, not at all. I am a very patient person. I am very imaginative when it comes to my books but I also believe that the world only resides in the literature and I was very clear, like I said, I was very happy where I was positioned in television. I knew it had to be something really good to make the transition otherwise I was absolutely okay doing what I was doing. TV is home, so it didn’t make any sense to leave it; do one thing and then come back if I wasn’t ready to make the transition.
What is your criteria for selecting films?
I am very particular about the stories, but (thinks hard) not very particular about choosing my roles as yet. It didn’t happen when I was choosing Gold and RAW because when I sat in the narration, I was sold in the first 20 minutes that I wanted to be a part of both the films. Also, I genuinely believe that after doing so much television and watching several English and Hindi films, that even if you have a two-minute part, if it is relevant and not frivolous, then one might as well do it. Then you have the scope to make an impact on the audience. It depends upon you and your director that how they present you up there.
Can one say that because of your acclaimed work on small screen that you are bagging lot of prominent projects with big filmmakers?
Most definitely. I am a very proud television actor. My experience on TV taught me a lot about work ethics and being a disciplined actor. Naagin is still the biggest show of my entire career. We didn’t know this and during our shoot, we would also be constantly fighting that let’s go home because of such long hours. We didn’t realise what is happening outside though we knew the TRPs of the show. In the first season our TRP was 6.5 and when we went for an award function and saw people were behaving insane. You have to be grateful for all the love, all that brings that kind of fame and appreciation. Also, I don’t take my look test lightly, I try to put in 200 per cent, wake up and work as a beginner every single day. There are no shortcuts to hard work, it is a lot of struggle.
You have had a huge fan following as a television actor, do you wonder if you will enjoy the same in movies? Is it worrying?
Yes, when I go out, I do feel that Naagin has left some kind of impact on people and they really loved Shivanya and Shivangi — the characters that I played. But these are the things you enjoy and let it go, if you hold on to it, then I think it is a liability. If you keep holding on to that feeling then what do you do about the hunger for other roles that you want to play, or different characters that you want to portray?
From Coochbehar to Delhi to Mumbai, how do you look at your journey?
It is unbelievable. Coochbehar and Delhi and Mumbai feel like a different life time which is why when people talk about any kind of criticism or anything that is slightly negative, all I feel is thankful. I can be nervous about a particular choreography, or one scene or two, or working with somebody, but I feel really excited to be on sets. Even though I am tired, I am happy to be here today.
Brahmastra is going to be a big ticket release for you. You must be looking forward to it..
I am only allowed to say that I am playing the main villain. But I am looking forward to all my films because you end up putting a lot of hard work in every single one of them. You can’t discriminate that this is a big film, this one has action sequences so, I have put in more efforts. Whether it was RAW or Made In China, it was a very tough shoot. You give a lot of yourself to every character that you play.
What is the difference between playing the villain's role in these two different mediums? Can we say that it’s bit over- the-top on the small screen and presented in a more subtle and stylish manner on the big screen? What was more liberating for you?
What was more liberating for me was to play characters that excite and challenge me. Brahmastra was one such character and it surprised me initially that they wanted me to do it. I think Ayan had seen something in Naagin and he could see it in my eyes and hence he chose me. You never know what clicks. As an actor, you have be versatile and willing to experiment otherwise you won’t learn and grow.
How was it working with Amitabh Bachchan, Ranbir and Alia?
All I can say is that my life is fulfilled. Ranbir and Alia are sweet-hearts; they have been so generous with their help in the character that I am playing. They are such big stars you feel scared walking on a set like that, and when you are welcomed and you feel comfortable then you realise that with great success and talent as theirs, they have humility. They are humble and they are willing to accept people from outside.
You have worked with both Akshay and John. What difference did you find?
Actually, John and Akshay sir have lot of similarities. They are anyway great friends. John had this angry young man kind of image but you realise he is so funny and makes it so comfortable for everyone. He will rehearse with you. With all these big stars, I have realised why they are where they are today because they are so disciplined and give so much to the roles that they are playing. They are very focused and you end up learning a lot from them.
Can you tell us about your other releases and roles that you're playing?
Made in China with Raj is releasing on 30 August and I am playing a Gujarati housewife in that. It will be a fun watch. On the film with Nawaz — Bole Chudiyan, I can only say that this girl is on a fiery run; she drives tractors and dances. It is a full-fledged Hindi film heroine's role and I am looking forward to start working on it.
Updated Date: Apr 07, 2019 10:24:07 IST
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