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Manisha Koirala on Heeramandi, “Very dear actress friend asked if Rekha has dubbed for me”

en Bollywood News Manisha Koirala on Heeramandi, “Very dear actress friend asked if Rekha has dubbed for me”

The beautiful Manisha Koirala has been through a helluva lot in life. She feels her suffering has made her a better human being and actor. “Of course, the experiences of life contribute to a performance. I now have a bank of emotions. I understand life much more deeply now. I see through people. The complexities of human behaviour are more comprehensible to me. There is an empathy I feel to everything around me. Of course, with time, life pain and suffering, I think I’ve become a better person. It doesn’t always work that way. A lot of people become bitter rather than better after suffering. I don’t ever want to ever be bitter resentful or vengeful. From a young age, it has been my constant effort to not hurt anyone. I wish I had been careful about not hurting myself. It has been a conscious effort for me to retain my innocence and vulnerability. I don’t want to be a person who knows it all,” she said.

Manisha Koirala on Heeramandi, “Very dear actress friend asked if Rekha has dubbed for me”

Manisha Koirala on Heeramandi, “Very dear actress friend asked if Rekha has dubbed for me”

Manisha’s association with Sanjay Leela Bhansali goes back a long way. “I first met him during the shooting of Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s 1942: A Love Story. Then Khamoshi, he directed. Then there was a long gap. Honestly, I am in awe of the man. He has evolved a lot. He makes grandeur look so cool. Not too many people talk about Khamoshi now. But the same subject was made in Hollywood two years ago (Sian Heder’s Coda) and that film got the Oscars. Khamoshi is very special: it is sensitive and poetic. Every character—Helenji, Seema Biswasji, Nana Patekar, Salman and me—were so beautifully written. He created a beautiful world in Khamoshi. Heeramandi has so much grandeur. If Sanjay can make a very intimate Khamoshi, he can also make a lavish Heeramandi. His range is staggering,” she said.

The Khamoshi actress admits she has evolved over the years. “I have changed a lot, Subhash, I am no longer what I was. Everyone changes. Haven’t you? So, have I. When I was younger, I was so much more impulsive. I was very instinctive in my acting. It was almost like God was guiding me to do what the director wanted without me working hard. It didn’t feel like I was putting in too much preparation. Nowadays, I love to prepare for my role. I don’t want to do anything that I have done before. I could just mimic myself and be done with it. But no. I want to be an original, better version of who I was. At least I want to try to be different in each and every film,” she said.

She reveals that she prepared profusely for her character Mallikajaan in Heeramandi. “You must have noticed the change in my voice? I worked really hard on it. A very dear actress friend of mine asked if Rekha dubbed for me in Heeramandi. I was thrilled she thought so. It meant that I wasn’t sounding like Manisha Koirala. I worked very hard on my diction and voice modulation. Sanjay gave me a very good diction coach, Muneera Suratiji. All the Heeramandi actors worked with her. I worked the maximum with her. I knew my nukhtas and the spoken Urdu were not perfect. I wanted my weak point to be my plus. And of course, there was Sanjay Bhansali always there to guide and restrain me. He is a director who believes in God being in the detailing. His expertise was invaluable,” said the actress.

Manisha reveals her dancing skills as seen in Heeramandi are genetical. “As far as the body language was concerned, Mallikajaan was the huzoor of all the tawaifs. She had to be larger than life. She had evidently learnt Kathak and Hindustani classical singing during childhood. She reminded me of my Daadi, who was a Bharat Natyam and Manipuri dancer. My mom was a Kathak and Bharat Natyam dancer. We used to have great dance and music get-togethers at home. Sitara Bua (Kathak exponent Sitara Devi) has come to my apartment when she was very old. She would sit in the chair and dance with her eyes and hands. Pandit Birju Maharaj was my mom’s teacher. Chandrashekhar ji a renowned Bharat Natyam dancer was a family friend. So, I’ve grown up in an environment of classical dancing and singing. I copied the graceful postures of my Mom and Daadi. I tried to remember how they talked and walked,” said the actress.

Manisha Koirala on Heeramandi, “Very dear actress friend asked if Rekha has dubbed for me”

Manisha sketched a backstory for Mallikajaan. “I drew a backstory of her mental landscape. She must have been scarred from a very young age. You know, I also drew inspiration from Meryl Streep’s The Devil Wears Prada, how casually evil she could be. She would say such evil words and then casually move away while her juniors would be shattered. I also saw Peaky Blinders as a reference. You don’t have to be screaming and making faces to be evil. You can be ice-cold evil. That’s what I wanted Mallikajaan to be. These were my role models. I don’t know how much I’ve succeeded. Knowing how scarred Mallikjaan  was at a young age, and the fire that she had in her belly to rule at any cost… the whole environment in the Kotha is such that women don’t have too many choices. It’s a cutthroat world. There are a lot of shades to Mallikajaan. I had to gauge her emotional intelligence and play her as an ice-cold evil woman. I had requested Sanjay to let me into the sets to imbibe the universe that she rules. A few days before shooting I had gone on the sets and spent many hours trying to absorb what it feels like to rule in this place. I took in everything. With the help of my brilliant director and the team, everything fell into place for me. Sanjay decided her clothes and her jewellery but I had to interpret Mallikajaan’s inner world with his guidance.”

All emotions don’t necessarily come from a personal space. “As actors we have to act and not necessarily go deep within ourselves to bring out the emotions. What I really had to is understand Mallikajaan’s psyche, what her childhood must be, what her sister must have done to her, the fear and trauma… After her child was born, it was taken away with her. I had to understand what she does, and why. I had to go into Mallikajaan’s inner world. Her value system had to be understood. She is just not evil. She is also a mother. She has that protective instinct. But she will also throw any person out like a fly in the milk. I constantly had discussion with Sanjay to understand the character thoroughly,” said Manisha.

At this stage of her career, Manisha is looking for new challenges. “I want to play characters I’ve never done before, and I want to do them with flair and finesse,” she said. “I really want to do characters who are alien to me. Before I die, I want to play a character the way Balraj Sahniji did, so effortlessly. He played a sophisticated man in Anuradha and a rickshaw puller in Do Bigha Zameen equally well. I want to be that kind of an actor who can play anyone equally well. Where people don’t see Manisha Koirala. They see only the character. I hope I get such a role. But it’s not in my hands. I want sensitive directors like Sanjay Bhansali, Mani Rathnam and Vidhu Vinod Chopra to work with me again.”

Also Read: Rekha’s heartfelt words of praise leave Manisha Koirala teary-eyed: “My prayers have come true”

More Pages: Heeramandi Box Office Collection , Heeramandi Movie Review


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