Notebook actors Pranutan, Zaheer Iqbal on making their Bollywood debut with Salman Khan's production
Notebook actors Pranutan, Zaheer Iqbal on landing Salman Khan's Notebook and upcoming projects
Legendary actress Nutan’s granddaughter and Mohnish Bahl’s daughter Pranutan, who just marked her Bollywood debut with Salman Khan's Notebook, is a double graduate in law. Ask her when she decided to study law, and she says, “I thought that education was very important. I got into law school and I was very good, academically. Though I always knew that I wanted to become an actor, I felt why go for auditions at 16 when you can go for it even at 22 and why not dedicate that time to things that will shape you. Also, it’s nice to know about the legality of things like contracts, stamp duty, what it takes to buy a house…” says the actress.
Born into an illustrious family, while Pranutan is ready to take their legacy ahead, she considers it as a huge responsibility as well. “I have taken it in my stride and view it as an encouragement. To be born among artists and such great ones is truly a blessing, so I would want to better myself at my craft. But yes, I am nervous because I know the responsibility on my shoulders. My grandmother was a legendary figure, and I have lot of them in my family - Kajol bua to dadi to papa to Salman sir,” says the petite debutante, who is happy to be launched with a “very real” story.
The love story has been shot in Kashmir and is based on the Thai film Teacher's Diary, that released in 2014. The film is about of a teacher, who visits a village and finds a diary of another female teacher who was fired from the school. The male teacher reads her diary and while he gets attracted to what's written in it, he leaves his comments in the diary, too. As soon as the lady teacher returns to the school, she receives her diary and reads the comments left by the male teacher and in-turn gets attracted to him.
“It’s a charming romance where there is longing and unconditional love. Beintehaan mohabbat is how one would define the relationship between Kabir and Firdaus (Zaheer and Pranutan's characters in this film). My director (Nitin Kakkar) told me that it's very brave of me to have chosen a debut like Notebook and that is when it struck me, 'Oh my god, the launch pad is tough.'" I told him that it never crossed my mind because I was so connected with the story and my character. He responded saying this is my innocence and that I should keep it intact. I am not looking at anything but good stories. I don't want to put myself in a box. Also, for me, it doesn't make sense to approach films or my career with genres. I believe in stories. If something inspires you, you should do it,” says Pranutan.
Meanwhile, her co-star, Zaheer Iqbal, who stepped into the industry as an assistant director with Salman’s Jai Ho, six years ago, has attended courses in acting, diction, action and dancing; in short, all the things that an actor needs to be equipped in. Not to forget the plenty of advice that he has got from Salman, his father's close friend. I used to meet him (Salman) every single day for the last six years as I have been hanging out with him a lot as part of my training. He has guided me in every phase but the most important piece of advice I've received from is about about how to treat people and deal with success and failure. He also told me, 'If you are honest as a human being then it will reflect on the screen.'"
“I have two to three more offers but I want to wait till Notebook releases. I have very high hopes from this film. Luckily, acting comes very easy to me and that is what Salman bhai saw. I was quite comfortable when I faced the camera for the first time, we were all so well prepared by Nitin Kakkar and Hemant sir (acting coach). Also, the six years of training that I have had under Salman bhai got me prepared for any situation that comes even in the future.” he says.
In an industry that is infamous for being nepotistic, detractors may believe that Pranutan had an easy journey from the audition hall to the big screen. But that's not the case, she insists. "I have given auditions at every single casting office that exists. Till 2016, I had been giving auditions and I would never type my surname because I didn’t want any work through connections. I would go through the second round and third round of auditions. I believe that you should be deserving and worthy enough to be in front of the camera. Just because you are born in the family of legendary people doesn’t mean you have the talent or the potential too,” she adds.
“For Notebook, I gave a four to five-hour-long audition. I was patient and gave it time and our director just wouldn't let go until he thought that he had extracted my full potential. That is very encouraging for a newcomer, or for any actor. About 18 days later, I got a call saying that I been selected."
So has the feeling of being an actor sunk in? “I can only say that when I am accepted by the audience; I can’t say that after doing just one film. I have lived with Notebook for nine months and it has been a very extensive process of removing Pranutan from the system and getting into the skin of ‘Firdaus’. But I would love it if people said that I am a good actor. That would give me the ultimate high," she says.
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