Rashmika Mandanna: I am ready to take on strong women-centric films
The Yajamana heroine is looking for character-oriented roles which are relatable
Two years and seven films. Within this short time frame, Rashmika Mandanna, has been able to make a mark in Kannada and Telugu industries. She is now getting ready to test the waters of Kollywood with her first Tamil film opposite Karthi. Having tasted success in two industries, she admits that now, with the experience she has gained, she is able to shoulder pressure. “You never know whether you’ve chosen the right role or not. You just have to go by your gut instinct. However, if you are confident about the script, you are sorted,” says the Kirik Party actor.
Currently in Hyderabad, juggling between shooting for her Kannada film, Pogaru, and Telugu film, Dear Comrade, Rashmika is looking forward to her next Kannada release Yajamana, in which she is paired opposite Darshan. She describes her character as one who is “strong on her own terms. It’s a subtle character of an educated girl who knows when to stand up for herself and for others. The whole process has been a learning experience. Patience is a key takeaway for me, personally, from this film.”
Rashmika, who has got her priorities straight, is now taking a stand as to what kind of films she wants to be a part of. “It’s time for me to slightly deviate from commercial potboilers. That’s what I am trying to let the industry know. Of late, when filmmakers have approached me with projects in Kannada, I have told them that my next film has to be something that will make me feel responsible. I am looking at strong women-centric films which are relatable,” says Rashmika, who points at films such as Aruvi, English Vinglish and Dear Zindagi as examples. “I am sure the Kannada audience will prefer to see me in these characters, and I also feel it’s high time that I pick such roles,” she adds.
However, that’s in Kannada. With Telugu and Tamil films, she prefers character-oriented roles. “Even though I am getting a lot of offers, which are so called ‘commercial films’, I am not taking them up. I feel that if the role I play is not strong enough, I don’t want to waste anyone’s time,” she says.
But how do filmmakers react to their films being turned down? She diplomatically replies, “Every human being has an ego. Obviously, if I say ‘no’, it hurts their ego. However, if they step back and think for a second from my point of view, they will know why I have taken the decision I have. I am not a mere puppet. If you don’t stand up for yourself, nobody else will. If I stick to only commercial films, I might only last for few years. And anyway, irrespective of the number of years I put into the industry, I just want to be proud of the films I have done. I don’t want to regret that I did only commercial films.”
Rashmika feels that while box office hits matter, she doesn’t want to just tag along with the hero. “Heroines also put in equal effort and take the same kind of responsibility. However, it’s sad that even though the hero and heroine work the same way, heroines usually have a short shelf life. Even if they are around after 15 years, it is not the same as before. So, as long as I am in the industry, I am ready to take up initiatives and see them through,” says the actor adding, “Through cinema I have met a lot of people and have been learning different languages and cultures. I have also started looking at films from a different perspective.”