Raashi Khanna discusses her impressive slate of films, from Venky Mama to Vijay Deverakonda's World Famous Lover
Raashi Khanna talks about returning to comedy with Venky Mama, and juggling shoots of two very different films, World Famous Lover and Prathi Roju Pandage.
A conversation with Raashi Khanna is almost always a gentle nudge to rethink our perception about who she is, both as a person and an actor. On Instagram, she is a fashionista who is constantly upping the ante, but she says she uses it only for professional reasons. On the big screen, she slips into her characters effortlessly, and brings them alive to make them her own, even when she is offered lead roles in commercial films, which are more hero-centric. And then, there is her personal life, which is strictly off-limits to the media and her fans on the internet.
These distinct personalities do merge at times, but she still keeps you guessing. “I’m very happy with my life right now. The past few months have been amazing, and the work I’ve been doing is quite fulfilling. No one can predict if all these films will work or not, and the success of a film depends on a lot of factors. But if you are true to your craft and work hard, people do notice it. On a personal level, I’ve become less judgmental and forgiving. There’s nothing more that I can ask for,” Raashi says.
Her recent foray into Tamil cinema, with films like Adanga Maru, Ayogya, and Sanga Tamizhan has been quite fruitful, and even though she had short roles in some of these films. Raashi says the Tamil audience has not seen her full potential yet. In her most recent outing, Sanga Tamizhan, the actress was paired opposite Vijay Sethupathi, and she is all praise for her co-star. “I’ve always looked up to him. When you work with actors like him, you learn so much just by observing them. I remember being a bundle of nerves on the first day of the shoot with him. In the midst of a scene, he just gave me a certain look, which was so spontaneous that I forgot my lines (laughs). His eyes speak, if I may say so. It was fascinating to see him improvise on the spot, with both the dialogues and his body language, and we would discuss a lot about improvisation on the set. I really enjoyed working with Vijay Sethypathi."
Given the kind of films she has been doing in Tamil, ask her if the perception people have about her is different in Kollywood, the actress says, “Forget about Tamil cinema, I still don’t know how I’m perceived in Telugu (laughs). Sometimes, I forget that I’m an actor and end up walking on the road all by myself. It’s a good thing, I guess, because no one can put a label on me that. I’ll only be best suited for a certain type of cinema. So when people see me on screen, they just see me as an actor, irrespective of the genre of the film.”
With three Telugu films, Venky Mama, Prathi Roju Pandage, World Famous Lover, lined up for release in the next few months, one might wonder if she is anxious about the results of these films. However, she says her focus is on something entirely different. “I am not anxious about the result anymore. People close to me know that I’m quite a spiritual person. I just go with the flow. The process is more important to me than the result. The only time I’m probably nervous is when I have to get into a character and do justice to it. Otherwise, all I can do is give my best, work on my craft, and leave the rest to the audience to decide."
As she gets talking about the process of playing her characters in some of her upcoming films, Raashi offers a glimpse into how it has changed her as a person, both emotionally and psychologically. For instance, in Maruthi’s Prathi Roju Pandage, Raashi plays a Tik Tok celebrity, Angel Aarna, a role which she says changed her perception about people’s obsession with the popular social media app. “For the longest time, I didn’t understand why people were so obsessed with Tik Tok, and I thought it was really bizarre. I’m very calm in my real life but Angle Aarna is over-the-top on a different level. I haven’t played a role like this since Jill, and it was quite scary initially. I had to develop a different personality for this role and for a while, I got on to Tik Tok to practise making some videos. It’s only then that I understood that the app gives people a lot of happiness because they get to express themselves. It’s only after I accepted that it became a little easier to play Angle Aarna. I think I surprised myself because you won’t see the Raashi that you’ve seen in other films at all. It’s one of the toughest roles I’ve played because Aarna is self-obsessed. I’m both excited and nervous about the film because my role is like that. I still have a fake ID on Tik Tok. Maybe, I’ll debut as Angel Aarna soon (smiles).”
Then, there is Kranthi Madhav’s World Famous Lover, in which she is paired with Vijay Deverakonda. “I’ve poured my blood and sweat into this role. It’s so emotional that I had to tap into my vulnerable side that only close friends and family members have seen. I’m so glad that Kranthi Madhav chose me for this role. That sort of faith in an actor is amazing, if I can say so. It was not my comfort zone at all. When I read the script, I had tears in my eyes, and that happens quite rarely. I try to detach myself from the characters I have to play but certain characters get into your skin. You relate to some roles on a personal level. I guess it was quite evident on my face because my brother once asked me if I was alright. My director freaked out when he saw me in a different state while playing the character," says Raashi.
Since she was shooting for both Prathi Roju Pandage and World Famous Lover around the same time, Raashi says it was a tad difficult for her to get into the character instantly. When Deverakonda noticed it, he reminded her, "You are laughing too much. You are on a different set now. Cry now."
Talking about how the role helped her to come to terms with her emotional side, Raashi says, “It was such a cathartic process to be able to take it all out, especially the emotional baggage that you’ve been carrying. Sometimes, you feel like crying but we hold back our tears. I used to dread the shoot, and would shut myself from everything but in the end, I was left with an amazing feeling that I got it right. One time, Vijay told me that I cry beautifully. He was extremely supportive throughout the shoot.”
The actress has also dubbed her own voice for this film, a first in her career. “In the past, I was very keen to dub my own voice for Tholiprema but director Venky Atluri felt that my voice was too strong for the role, considering that I play a 19-year-old in one of the segments. We gave it a shot but it wasn’t fitting well. So I let it go. When it came to World Famous Lover, both Kranthi Madhav and Vijay Deverakonda were absolutely certain that my voice would suit the role. I was scared because I have to recreate all those emotions once again in the dubbing studio. I’m too attached to the film, and I can’t wait to see the response from the people,” she explains.
Apart from all these films, Raashi is also eagerly awaiting the release of KS Ravindra’s Venky Mama, which also has Venkatesh and Naga Chaitanya in lead roles. The actress is paired opposite Chaitanya. She says the whole experience has been plenty of fun. Raashi says, “The film has a lot of situation comedy, and I really enjoyed working with Venkatesh sir. His comic timing is brilliant, and it was so much fun teaming up with Vidyullekha Raman once again. It was quite seamless, and I love comedy. Venky Mama was totally in my zone. And Naga Chaitanya is so calm and honest with his co-stars. He doesn’t beat around the bush. He’s so chilled out all the time. And he’s something whom I can be friends with. In fact, I must add that Naga Chaitanya and Samantha are lucky to have each other in their lives. They are so perfect!”
As exuberant as she sounds while talking about her films, Raashi goes into a complete zen-mode when it comes to making sense of her acting career and life in general. “The lives of actors are quite tricky, isn’t it? Sometimes, you might not really get what you want, and at times, you wouldn’t even know why. But what hasn’t changed at all for me is my faith in myself. I know that no matter what I do, I’m putting my heart and soul into it. I’m not scared or insecure as a person. I think I’ve had a decent journey so far, and I’m sailing anyway. There’s no reason why it would go down from here,” Raashi signs off.
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