Rashmika Mandanna: Allu Arjun sir changed my whole perspective

The actor, who has exciting projects coming up, shares what it was like to be part of the upcoming pan-Indian film, Allu Arjun’s Pushpa: The Rise – Part 1
Rashmika Mandanna: Allu Arjun sir changed my whole perspective
Rashmika Mandanna: Allu Arjun sir changed my whole perspective

Rashmika Mandanna has become a household name across South India. Having established herself with films like Kirik Party and Geetha Govindam, the actor, who made her Tamil debut with Karthi-starrer, Sulthan, is now all set to feature in her first pan-Indian release, Pushpa: The Rise – Part 1, which is set to hit the screens on December 17.

Excerpts from an interview:

There’s a lot of excitement surrounding your onscreen chemistry with Allu Arjun.

Working with Allu Arjun has been a dream come true for me. The characters we play in the film share a unique vibe. I am confident that my chemistry with him will work big-time for the audience. I really like Allu Arjun's work ethic and as a co-star, he is the best.

He has been calling me Crushmika, a nickname he made up with the words: National Crush and Rashmika. On the sets, he would keep teasing me by saying, "Hi Crushmika, what's up?" It made for some jovial banter between us.

Talk to us about your character in the film.

I am playing Srivalli, a playful yet cunning character. In the film, Allu Arjun is Pushpa Raj for everyone, but for Srivalli alone, he is just Pushpa. I absorbed what the director (Sukumar) told me. This is the first time that I have played a rustic, de-glam character. I learned the Chittoor dialect for the film and gave as many as three look tests to see how I would fit the part. Once we began the shoot, I also got trained in body language, voice modulation and diction. I think we are still figuring out what Srivalli is to this film, and perhaps, the second part may tell us more.

What is the first film about?

The world of Pushpa comprises Pushpa's mother, his brothers and covers his relationship with Srivalli. Sukumar sir has created a different world with this film. The truth is, very few of us, including me, have any idea about the whole script. However, I can confidently say that we have never seen something like this before and may not see something like this ever again. 

You have worked across languages, and have grown in stature, particularly in the Telugu industry.

I think I have evolved as an actor during this time and become a better person. I feel proud of myself (smiles). Allu Arjun garu was the chief guest for my film, Geetha Govindam, and I have always held the dream to work with him in a film. And now, that has happened with Pushpa. I see this as an achievement.

Initially, I was nervous about working with him. I went straight to him and said, “Sir, I am extremely nervous right now. Will I be able to do this scene?" He replied, "Don't doubt the intelligence of the people you are working with. If it were not for your talent or hard work, you wouldn't be here." His response changed my whole perspective. I realised that I have my own strengths and that it didn’t make sense for me to be nervous.

It must have been quite a task, matching the steps of Allu Arjun, who’s thought to be among the best dancers in the industry?

Honestly, I didn't dance with Bunny (Allu Arjun) sir... but I do dance to win the interest of Pushpa's character in ‘Sami Sami’ song (smiles). For the next part (Pushpa 2), I will request Suku (Sukumar) sir to somehow plan a song for us. That said, I can’t quite believe that I have pulled off the ‘Sami Sami’ song. Bunny sir was there for every shot, and I saw how he translates his vision to make each song of the film the best. The credit for how this song has come should go to everyone, including Bunny sir, Devi Sri Prasad, Sekhar master, Sukumar sir and myself...

Samantha Ruth Prabhu has also done a song in this film...

Yes, she looked really attractive, and I am grateful to her for doing the song (‘Oo antava...Oo oo antava’). I texted her to say that she looked really good. She is a superstar, and she has done something like this for the first time in her career.

You are also working on two Bollywood films, Mission Majnu, and Goodbye. How different have those experiences been?

The makers of both films have been warm and welcoming. They told me that they liked my performance and have expressed their happiness that I am a part of their films. It’s usually the hero who gets such reception, but this experience and their gratitude has made me feel really special. The shooting of Mission Majnu is over, and as for Goodbye, there are two weeks of shoot left. In this film, I share screen space with Amitabh Bachchan, who is like a fatherly figure to us. He is quiet on the sets and is like a baby, in a sense. You can easily notice what he likes and dislikes! I wasn’t intimidated at all while working with him, but once the shot got over, I was anxious because I realised I was sitting beside Bachchan sir (smiles).

Up next, I am doing Aadavallu Meeku Joharlu with Sharwanand, and have signed a film each in Telugu and Hindi as well.

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