Malavika Mohanan: Couldn’t get up from my chair when I met Shah Rukh Khan for the first time

She made her debut in Hindi films with Oscar nominated director Majid Majidi’s ‘Beyond The Clouds’. ForMalavikaMohanan, daughter of the popular cinematographer KU Mohanan, acting happened by chance as she had no intentions of joining the industry. The actress is currently shooting in Varanasi for her next film with superstarRajinikanthin ‘Petta’. The film also starsNawazuddin Siddiquiand Vijay Setupati. The actress says that she is very ‘greedy’ and wants to do all kinds of movies across the country, irrespective of the language. She also spoke to us about her first meeting with Shah Rukh Khan, and a project called, ‘Chappal Marungi’ that she started in her college.
Had no plans to pursue acting
Though her father is a popular cinematographer inBollywood, but Malavika had no plans to join the industry but she was always fascinated with the creative side of the industry. “I was always intrigued by the creative aspect. I was always more inclined towards painting, ad films and those kind of things. I didn’t plan to pursue acting at all until I was offered my first film, ‘Pattam Pole’, which was a Southern film. I took that up, and other films happened and I felt that I was enjoying it. My parents and I, we all live in Mumbai, so I thought if I am doing it, I might do Hindi films as well. This is how ‘Beyond The Clouds’ happened. My journey has been fun so far. When you live in Mumbai, you learn so much about different kinds of things. In that sense, it has been incredible. I have grown up visiting my father’s sets. I still remember when he was doing ‘Don’, and being a huge Shah Rukh Khan fan in Class IX, I had gone on the sets to meet him. That was the first time when I saw SRK. I was so petrified when he came to say hello. I was so nervous that I could not get up from my chair. And when he left, my parents were like, ‘Shah Rukh Khan comes to say hello, and you can’t even get up!’ I was like, ‘I am sorry. I was so nervous.’
Excited to work with Rajinikanth
The actress, who is shooting with Rajnikanth for ‘Petta’, says, “I am very excited to work with Rajini sir at such an early point of my career. It’s an amazing role and very challenging, performance-wise. It was even tougher for me because I don’t speak Tamil. But I wanted to be true to my character so I hired a language teacher and trained with her. Rajini sir is an absolute delight to work with and is so humble and down to earth. I am very excited to be a part of this project as it’s an out and out commercial film, and different from all the projects I’ve done previously.”
Language no barrier
Talking about the films that she had done down south, Malavika adds that she wants to do films that excite her and the language does not matter. “I haven’t done many films down south, I have done about four films, which by south standards is nothing. Films over there get completed so fast, they shoot for 20 days for one movie. I have always aspired to do things in Hindi, so this is where I see myself, even though I see myself doing films all over the country. As long as it is a film that excites you, the language does not matter,” she points out.
Malavika’s ‘Chappal Marungi’ campaign in college
The actress studied at Wilson College in Mumbai and tells us that she was part of a project called, ‘Chappal Marungi’, which was against molestation. “We were in the final year of our college and it started off as a project. The whole project was about sexual harassment – all girls who would take the Mumbai local faced it at some point. Comments like ‘Item’, ‘Chalegi kya?’ – that girls usually ignore – I feel that is where it grows, because people think if she is not saying anything then it’s okay even if I touch her, and if I touch her, it is okay if I do more. I feel that’s where the thought grows and becomes very serious when people get molested or raped. We can’t ignore that anymore. If someone says something that makes you uncomfortable, just ask the person to shut up. We are not continuing with the project now since all of us are busy, but as somebody who is doing films, and as somebody who wants to reach out to a wider audience, I really want to do things like continuing the campaign or starting a new movement to speak about the issues that women are facing today especially in our country.”