It really isn’t difficult to fall in love with Mahie Gill. Trust me! So when I met her on the 18th floor residential flat overlooking the beautiful city of dream, I started to feel like a struggler myself interviewing the ‘make up free’ actress wearing a blue cap and covered from top to toe in her track suit. No actress can get any simpler than Mahie. She is what dreams are made up of. She dreamt to live in Bollywood and today she is living her dream. In spite of her not so glamorous appearance, she looked as attractive as a Paro from Dev D or Anusha from her recent release Not A Love Story. She requests her maid to get us two mugs full of green tea with some biscuits and guess what? Peanuts. Yes, so in between talking movies, we also exchanged our recipes on how to serve peanuts to guests. I bet she’ll try mixing cold grated chocolate bar over unsalted peanuts. Coming back to movies, the physical transformation in Not A Love Story was astonishing – it’s a wonderful impersonation, but what makes it all the more impressive is that she seems to add a new dimension to what we already knew about Maria Susairaj and her trauma’s. That’s how real Mahie gets. That’s how sexy she gets too. I’m not kidding. Try putting the words ‘Mahie Gill’ and ‘Sexy’ on Google and the results will be evident. And even though she may not have been crowned on the world stage, she does come across as one crowning glory. UK’s Harrow Observer columnist and Bollywood Hungama‘s London correspondent brings you part one of this two part special on the struggle that went into making Mahie Gill an actress and much more.
“I am not a party person at all but I could never imagine getting my first film by attending a kid’s birthday party”
I’ve done my Masters in theatre. While I was studying, I started getting offers and did my Punjabi films. Then I thought it wasn’t difficult to get into films till I reached Mumbai. Here it was a different ball game altogether. I didn’t know anyone here. I recall attending Dibyendu Bhattacharya’s son’s birthday party, the guy who played Chunnilal in Dev D. That’s where Anurag saw me. But then I took a flashback and started recalling the stories that rumoured in Chandigarh about how actors were made by a producer or director spotting them at petrol pumps. I am not a party person at all but I could never imagine getting my first film by attending a kid’s birthday party. My journey in cinema started with Dev D.
“Coming from theatre, I knew that Ramu was one director who was known to cast new faces”
Everybody’s stories are quite similar, especially the ones coming from small towns and other cities besides Mumbai. Now because I had come from Chandigarh, I only heard about producers and directors like Yash Chopra, Karan Johar, etc. I had seen Madhur’s Chandni Bar and I loved it. I had also heard of Black Friday but never knew that such kinds of movies were also made in a city filled with SRK, Salman and Aamir. But I was a big fan of RGV. Coming from theatre, I knew that Ramu was one director who was known to cast new faces.
So here I was in the middle of all my favourite filmmakers and then Anurag Kashyap called and offered me a role.
“Anurag offered me No Smoking and a kiss with John Abraham. Who would miss that offer? I did”
One day, Anurag Kashyap called and said that I’d like to cast you in my new film titled No Smoking but there is a problem. I asked him what was the problem and he answered, “There is a kissing scene in the film”. I then asked him, “Who am I supposed to kiss?” Anurag answered, “John Abraham”. That’s the first conversation I had with Anurag Kashyap (laughs). But the producers didn’t want a new face. So I still regret not doing that film (laughs).
“In my wildest dream I never thought that my showcase would have the eternally gracious black lady, the Filmfare trophy”
I remember I used to be taking this quilt and drinking hot milk and watching the Filmfare awards in Chandigarh on my television. In my wildest dream I never thought that my showcase would have the eternally gracious black lady, the Filmfare trophy I got for Dev D. But besides Dev D nothing good has happened to me till Not A Love Story came.
“I haven’t received so many calls even after my performance in Dev D. Not A Love Story is a game changer”
I had just come from Hyderabad after shooting for my film Buddah In A Traffic Jam. On my way I was reading this article of Maria Susairaj having a fight with her inmates in the jail. As I was reading I got a call from RGV’s office. I was in oblivion and didn’t know that Ramu wanted to meet me for the role of Maria Susairaj. Strange things happen I tell you! In five minutes it was decided and in seven days the shoot commenced. I haven’t received so many calls even after my performance in Dev D. Not A Love Story is a game changer for me as far as my acting is concerned. I still haven’t seen Sahib Biwi Aur Gangster so I can’t tell about that film.
“I don’t go to the monitor to see my performance after the shot is over. I hate seeing myself on screen”
I hate seeing myself on the screen. Yes, I am serious. I don’t even go to the monitor after the shot is over. I don’t care about all that. My job is to do the role and if the green signal is given from the director that’s it. There is no looking back. I am a very shy person and still don’t attend too many parties. I recall attending the Dabangg success party and I was scared and shy because I am still friends with the very few like Anurag, Abhinav, Sunil Bohra, etc. Even my best friends tell me that they don’t know what kind of a person I am. But that’s my nature and I can’t change it.
“Seriously, sometimes I think if I wasn’t an actress I’d have been a house wife”
The role I did in Not A Love Story wasn’t difficult for me because I had experienced that in my real life, the role of an aspiring actress who is a struggler. I’ve gone through that phase in Mumbai. I used to go for auditions and I was pathetic in all of them. Honestly, if Anurag would’ve auditioned me for Dev D, I wouldn’t have got Dev D. I am literally bad. Seriously, sometimes I think if I wasn’t an actress I’d have been a house wife (laughs).