Rashmika Mandanna: I have never thought of language as being a barrier for my work
Rashmika evinces excitement about her upcoming film, Pogaru, and also talks about the challenges of working across languages…
Rashmika Mandanna steps into multilingual territory with Kannada-Telugu bilingual Pogaru that’s set for release on February 19. This will be followed by her Tamil debut in Karthi’s Sulthan (April 2), and the Telugu film, Pushpa, opposite Allu Arjun (August 13). This is not all. The actor is also shooting for her Bollywood debut, Mission Majnu, starring Siddharth Malhotra, and has signed another Telugu film, Aadaalloo Meeku Johaarlu. In this interview, she evinecs excitement about her upcoming film, Pogaru, and also talks about the challenges of working across languages…
The pan-Indian dream
“I have never thought of language as being a barrier for my work. I truly believe this, and I am glad to be working across languages. I think it is a wonderful thing for an actor like myself to be able to establish myself across industries.”
The Covid factor
“Pogaru is my first film to get released after the Covid relaxations have been implemented and hundred per cent occupancy allowed in theatres. Although I am excited, it is also important to remember that it is still a tricky situation. The virus is still out there. Even though vaccination has become available for many, not everyone has taken it. I don't know what the future holds. I can't be selfish and ask the audience to forget everything and come and watch my films in theatres. So, all I can say is, take care of yourself, take precautions. Having said that, we must also note that people need entertainment now more than ever. So, for those who want to come and dance and whistle in theatres, Pogaru will be a perfect film.”
One for the family
“The bilingual is a total mass film, with all the commercial elements. This is not a film about just its hero and heroine; it is a wholesome family entertainer. The style of the hero, the action sequences, the mother sentiment, the songs… all these aspects will be highlights. I don't know how much I can tell you about my role; so, I’ll just tell you that my character name is Geetha and this is the third time I play a character with this name (laughs). She is a strict professor, an introvert who is the opposite of the hero. It is a good balance. The lead character and I share a Tom-and-Jerry vibe in this film. The ‘Karaabu’ song is just an extension of this. I often listen to this song at my gym, where others seem to enjoy working out to it."
Nuggets about the cast
"I was completely shocked to see Dhruva Sarja in his ‘beast’ look. I have seen him only as a sweet and well-groomed boy earlier. It shows immense dedication and hard work on his part, and I’m extremely proud of him. I also have to appreciate the producer’s patience in carrying this film for over eighteen months. Nanda Kishore gave me a free hand to perform a role that is very much like who I really am. He comes across as an extremely knowledgeable filmmaker, someone who is also calm and composed. The next time he offers me a project, I know I will be saying yes immediately."
"Controversies have made me cry a lot. However, today, if there are no controversies being publicised about me, I almost miss them. I am in that phase where I want people to talk about me. I use my mother and other well-wishers as a protective shield to ensure that the negativity doesn’t affect the person that I am."
"Rumours about my salary being 2 crore? I can only dream of the figures being written about, but no, it is not the case. Every time we talk about payment, someone invariably begins comparing it with other heroines. I have been toiling hard, day in and day out, but I have not reached what many think I am earning. But yes, I would love to reach that position.”
“I’ve decided not to listen to any script until July/August. I dislike saying yes to a film and then waiting for six months before it kicks into motion. I wish to complete my current commitments before signing any more projects. I know there are rumours about me being a part of Vikas Bahl’s next (also starring Amitabh Bachchan), but I would like to remain secretive about such offers. I will not comment on being part of projects when the production house and team have not officially announced it yet.”
The language barrier
“Whenever I begin working on a film from a new language, I become a debutant once again. I make sure I focus on the learning; it is not about showing off what I already know. I know that my previous experiences will not be enough because with a new language, I am catering to a new audience, a new culture. I began with work in Kannada, and then, I went to Telugu. I am doing Tamil and Hindi films now, as well. Though it may all seem the same from the outside, only I know that the learning process is different each time. Take Bollywood, for instance. There is so much preparation, so many workshops; I had to stay in Mumbai for some time. I am excited to get on to the sets of Mission Majnu after all this background work. In general, I view Kannada cinema to be my home turf. Telugu cinema is my school, where I have learned so much. Tamil cinema, I see as a sign of my good fortune.”
“I am a sucker for content-oriented scripts. My commercial successes will not deter me from doing a film like Kirik Party or Dear Comrade. I will always be part of such films when the script feels right, and I see myself fitting into it. I want to do biopics too. Perhaps someone will offer me a biopic of actors like Soundarya ma’am or Sridevi ma’am. But yes, it all depends on the filmmakers. I know I will never say no to a biopic.”