Newton actress Anjali Patil on working with Rajinikanth in Kaala: 'He is the nicest person I've met in my career'

Seema Sinha

Apr 30, 2018 11:46:03 IST

When Newton-fame Anjali Patil was offered Meri Nimmo, a delightful, coming-of-age film that tells the tale of an eight-year-old boy falling in love with an older girl Nimmo (portrayed by Patil), she had no choice but say 'yes' because the film’s director, Rahul Shankalya, her NSD (National School of Drama) colleague, just refused to take a ‘no’ from her.

Newton actress Anjali Patil on working with Rajinikanth in Kaala: He is the nicest person Ive met in my career

Karan Dave and Anjali Patil in a still from Meri Nimmo. YouTube

“When Rahul gave me the script, he said there will be no discussion. It’s his debut film so I felt it was my responsibility to do it and make it work,” says Patil. She further adds, “And it was such a beautiful script. The writer has caught the essence of little kid’s love story. Also, what drew me to the film was shooting in Jabalpur. As an actor, director and writer, I would not let go any opportunity of seeing a different world.”

The film revolves around the boy, ‘Nimmo’s’ constant companion, who has a massive crush on the 24-year-old girl and what follows when the object of his affection decides to get married. While the little boy's innocence prevents him from understanding the institution of marriage, it does not prevent him from trying some wacky ideas to keep his love from marrying someone else. The film earned wide praise at the 47th International Film Festival (IFFI) and the 19th MAMI Mumbai Film Festival last year. Produced by eminent filmmaker Aanand L Rai, Meri Nimmo enjoys a straight to digital release on Eros Now. The film premiered worldwide on 27 April.

Though the subject is off-beat and full of complexities, Patil said she did not do any homework or preparation. The only thing she did was spend all her time with the child actor and main protagonist Karan Dave. “I was always with him during the shoot. For me Hemu (Dave’s screen name) is someone I have seen since he was a baby. I have bathed him, changed his diapers, she (Nimmo) isn’t his mother but she has taken care of him as his mother. She’s a young mischievous girl and he’s her companion, her best friend. All these complex layers I never figured out. I was always hanging out with Karan and the gang... playing with them, going to see fireflies in the lake... I was like a kid with them and never thought about how I should portray an older girl. When I had to love him, I loved him and when I had to take care of him, I took care of him,” said Patil.

Patil says she marveled at Dave’s craft and acting skills. “I would run to the monitor to see his takes and close-ups as I would be curious to see how he performed. The director was very clear and specific with him, and at the same time, he would not explain him too much. He would grab him by his shoulder, walk along with him like a friend and Karan was like, ‘Ok, ok, I got it.’ I don’t want to call him a kid, he is so mature and so sensitive. He is talented of course, but at the same time, he is equally professional. He is doing quite a lot of films now. It was very special to know him and be around him,” said Patil.

However, the National Award-winning actress, who was critically acclaimed for playing the character of Malko in the 2017 release Newton alongside Rajkummar Rao, continues to struggle for good work coming to her, and she blames it on lack of good scripts and the stereotypical nature of the industry. “Patience is the key here. I stay without work for months. Even reading bad scripts requires patience (laughs). I haven’t had a good script in last four months. Now I am not even reading scripts. Last year was very difficult for me. This is the time to focus on my directorial. I have started writing and I am saying ‘no’ to a lot of work,” said Patil, a self-confessed nomadic traveler.

Patil made her big screen debut with Prashant Nair’s independent feature Delhi in a Day in 2011 after finishing a direction course at NSD in Delhi. The film got tremendous response at international film festivals. Patil went on to play a Naxalite commander in Prakash Jha’s Chakravyuh (2012) and also featured in Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Mirzya (2016). Among her most well-known films is the Telugu production and National Award winner Naa Bangaaru Talli (2013), in which she played a teenager who battles sex traffickers. “Actually, our industry has tremendous talent. We have some great writers but people who are running the business lack vision to see original stories and ideas. We keep making some random masala movies. We need to evolve as artists, as society,” said the actress.

Patil has been quite vocal about the colour bias in the film industry. “I always get scripts for a village girl. Dusky complexion is very much associated with poor people. The stereotypical projection of characters is very kiddish. Look at the fairness products we have in the market, it is crazy! In the beginning, I used to feel really bad. I used to take it personally. Now I just laugh about it. It’s ingrained in us that if you wear more make-up and if you look fair, you will look more beautiful. Now I have started doing my own make-up,” said Patil, who considers herself to be an outsider.

Anjali Patil. YouTube

Anjali Patil. YouTube

“It is not that someone has pushed me out, I choose to stay out so that I can meet real people and live my life by my own rules. I don’t have to behave like an actor. When I travel, most people who have even seen my films don’t recognise me. They think I am a back-packer. That is the life I want to live. I can live anonymously. I don’t live in Mumbai for a very long time. I go there only for work. I prefer to stay in the nature. I call myself an outsider of the system. The system requires some people to look at it from the outside. And it is something that’s working out very well for me,” said Patil, further adding, “These stereotypes don’t affect my career. Nothing which is external can harm you, only I can harm myself. That's the mantra for everyone."

Patil is now preparing for her directorial project. “Starting from July to February, next I am shooting my film in bits and pieces in different parts of India. It is a film on real people. Something that I wanted to explore as a director,” she said.

Her upcoming releases include Pa Ranjith’s Kaala alongside Rajinikanth and Mehra’s social drama Mere Pyaare Prime MinisterShe is tight-lipped about her character in Kaala, a gangster thriller set in Mumbai, and will only reveal the name of her character's name: Puyal Charumathi Gaikwad. “It is a good, strong role,” Patil said. “Rajini sir is very gracious and loving. Whenever he is around, there is celebration in the air. He's that magical quality, he’s the source of energy. He is the nicest person I have met in these years of my acting career.

Updated Date: Apr 30, 2018 11:46:03 IST