Sobhita Dhulipala on pursuing Geetu Mohandas for a role in Moothon, Bard of Blood, and her upcoming projects
In an interview with Firstpost, Sobhita says, 'If there's a good story, I'll always seek it with all my sincerity. I'm an actor. A storyteller. I am not too attached to the outcome, never was, and I don't think I'll be either. I'm just happy to be here.'
Sobhita Dhulipala does not have barriers of language and medium in her head. At heart, she is a storyteller, she says.
After making her debut in Anurag Kashyap's 2016 neo-noir psychological thriller Raman Raghav 2.0, she was subsequently seen in Raja Krishna Menon's 2016 slice-of-life film Chef (reprising Scarlett Johansson's role from the original), Akshat Verma's 2018 black comedy Kaalakaandi, and Sashi Kiran Tikka's blockbuster Telugu spy thriller Goodachari.
But her breakthrough was earlier this year, in Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti's Amazon Prime Video India Original show Made in Heaven. Last month, she also appeared in Netflix India Original spy thriller show Bard of Blood. Now, she has made inroads into the Malayalam film industry with Geethu Mohandas' Hindi-Malayalam bilingual Moothon, that will have its India premiere as the opening film of the Jio MAMI 21st Mumbai Film Festival this week. The film already had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last month.
"I see myself as a narrator of many stories. Medium or language is inconsequential to my interests, and I gravitate towards taking risks," says Sobhita, who claims to have pursued her role of a Mumbai prostitute in Moothon after she got to know of the film through her Made in Heaven co-star Shashank Arora, who plays a pivotal part in the film. She claimed she sent multiple pictures of her dressed in the getup of a prostitute to Geethu till the director got convinced to cast her in the part.
"If there's a good story, I'll always seek it with all my sincerity. I'm an actor. A storyteller. I am not too attached to the outcome, never was, and I don't think I'll be either. I'm just happy to be here," says Sobhita, smiling, when this writer asks her whether she still had to persuade for good roles following her breakthrough in Made in Heaven.
Moothon is a rare regional film that has been selected as the opening film of MAMI, a slot usually reserved for Hindi cinema. In an exclusive interview to Firstpost, MAMI Artistic Director Smriti Kiran admits she went into watching Moothon, hoping it will be great, since she really wanted a film by a woman director to headline the festival.
"Moothon is a Hindi-Malayalam bilingual. My character is a Hindi-speaking woman from the slums. I shot for it in early 2017. It's essentially the story of a child searching for his elder brother. The people he meets along the way, the reality of Mumbai's vibrant underbelly, the ugly struggle for survival, what greed makes people do, and encountering kindness in the most unexpected places — this is how I see it," says Sobhita.
She is currently shooting for her second Malayalam feature, called Kurup, opposite Dulquer Salmaan. She says she is extremely excited to collaborate with a fellow pan-Indian star in Dulquer, who has worked in as many as four film industries in the country, including Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, and Hindi. "I'm shooting for Kurup in Kerala. This is a wonderful place with wonderful people that leave me very motivated." While Moothon has her cast in a Hindi-speaking part, she will be seen mouthing Malayalam dialogues in Kurup. "It is always exciting for me to learn a language and a culture that I know nothing of. Getting to live another person's life, even for small patches of time — this is why I do what I do. A great delight!"
This new phase is similar to the first time she moved to Mumbai to pursue a career in the Hindi film industry. Born in Telangana, she was not well-versed with Hindi. That is why a Telugu film like Goodachari came in handy for her. However, she learnt it along the way, and is now doing both Hindi films and Hindi-language shows on streaming services.
She will also be seen in Netflix anthology Ghost Stories, a follow-up to Bombay Talkies and Lust Stories. In it, she will reunite with Kashyap, who launched her in Raman Raghav 2.0 three years ago, for the filmmaker's short film. She has also collaborated with him on Moothon, as Kashyap has not only co-produced the project but also penned the Hindi dialogues of the film. "I don't want to divulge anything about the story or the character right now. It was a delight to be working with him again. I always feel empowered and creatively stimulated working with him," says Sobhita.
After a memorable performance in Made in Heaven, Sobhita's act as Isha Khanna was also appreciated in Ribhu Dasgupta's Bard of Blood last month. In the show, she plays an Indian intelligence service agent who grapples with the idea of not being trusted by the higher forces because of her gender. "Isha has a determined will, and needs to prove her mettle as an officer, and seeks a fair trial like any other person, whether male or not," explains Sobhita.
In the second episode of the show, the audience discovers her now-deceased boss Rajit Kapur sent a cryptic parting message that she should accompany Emraan's character on the important mission to Balochistan. "My agent name was Rani Laxmi Bai. She was a woman of bravery and many firsts," says Sobhita.
In the near future, Sobhita will also be seen in Made in Heaven Season 2 though she claims she is unaware about what her character Tara Khanna would do post the finale of Season 1. "I have no idea at all. I'm waiting to find out from the writers!"
While one might believe the streaming platforms and regional industries are keeping her away from Hindi cinema, she breaks that perception. "There's a Hindi film I shot for last year, called The Body, with Rishi Kapoor and Emraan Hashmi, which should be out soon (possibly delayed because of Rishi's prolonged cancer treatment in the US). I'm also shooting for something in two months, something I'm very kicked about but can's speak much on," says Sobhita, signing off.
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