Mamangam actor Prachi Tehlan: I want to be part of inspiring human stories
The former captain of the Indian Netball Team which represented India in the 2010 Commonwealth Games talks about playing a challenging character in the Mammootty-starrer, and making the shift
Mamangam actor Prachi Tehlan had already established herself as a successful sportswoman before transitioning to acting three years ago. A recipient of multiple medals and various other honours, Prachi feels she has achieved everything there is to achieve in the sports world and that there were no further goals to accomplish. Acting is something that happened to her while pursuing a corporate career. “I thought of giving acting a shot and then realised I’m good at it after being accepted by everyone. Naturally, I felt I should take it seriously and create a new path,” she says.
Mamangam, which is not only the Delhi-based actor’s first big-budget feature but also her South Indian debut, is an unusual film in that, it began production last year and went through some crew and script changes in between. Prachi, who had shot for a small percentage of the film last year, had to reshoot her portions following these changes. However, she maintains that her character’s name (Unnimaya) and journey remains intact.
Asked if she got enough time to prepare for her role, Prachi says, “I got some time last year but not after the story upgrades, which were being made side by side while shooting was in progress. But since I got an idea of the character last time, it was easier to pick up everything quickly the second time around.”
Prachi is happy that the film is being released in three other Indian languages and not just Malayalam. “These are real characters taken from the Valluvanad stories and it’s about their role in the Mamangam festival. It’s exciting to see this part of Indian history being made available to more people,” she adds. Prachi has put in a lot of effort into her role, learning Malayalam as well as doing her own stunts. She says the confidence, discipline, teamwork, and punctuality from her sports days helped her adapt to any sudden and unexpected changes.
Does she prefer sports or acting? “Whatever I am today is because of sports. It’s something I started doing since I was a kid, and I lived the sportsperson’s life for almost a decade. I never saw sports as something I could make a living out of or that I would play for India one day. It’s something that happened organically and I enjoyed doing it. It was more of a passion for me. Unfortunately, team sports in India doesn’t bring enough money or opportunities. Though India has come a long way in terms of individual sports, team sports still has a long way to go.”
Given the newfound interest in sports films lately, not just in Malayalam but also Indian cinema in general, we asked about her take on sports films made in the country. She names Dangal and Chak De as good examples and wants to see more inspiring stories made here. “Along with the achievements presented—fictional or non-fictional—there should also be a strong human story with a strong emotional connect that positively encourages society,” she says.
As for her favourite actors, Prachi rates Tabu, Vidya Balan and Rani Mukherjee highly, and speaks admiringly about the women’s performances in films such as AndaDhun, Mardaani, Tumhari Sulu, Mission Mangal, Kahaani, and so on. Though she is a fan of commercial films like Kuch Kuch Hota Hai or Dil To Pagal Hai, she is not too keen about doing something like the Housefull or Student of the Year series.
She hopes to be part of all genres of films provided they are backed by strong content. “I don’t know where my journey is going to take me, but I am clear about what I want to do. I want to inspire people and be part of inspiring human stories, regardless of the genre. I don’t want to be stereotyped,” she signs off.