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Playing the rebel

neeti sarkar
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film Actor Monica Dogra returns with ‘David’, playing a 70s girl who lives life on her own terms and feels entitled to live like that

While some actors sing, there are singers who also act. And no, we aren’t making any reference to Hollywood here! After her highly acclaimed acting debut in Kiran Rao’s Dhobhi Ghat , singer and actress Monica Dogra has returned to Bollywood with her second film – the recently released action-thriller David , directed by Bejoy Nambiar, in which she stars opposite Neil Nitin Mukesh.

The director extraordinaire discovered Monica through a Shaa’ir + Func (Monica’s band) performance. He asked me to meet him, narrated the story to me, got me to read only a portion of the script and told me he had found his Noor in me. I just knew he was onto something because I have seen how through Shaitan he brought out totally different actors in all his actors.”

Monica says: “I play Noor, a Muslim girl, who falls in love with the gangster, David. Noor is rebellious, she fights for love and she isn’t like any other girl from the 70s. Though she’s the household help, she doesn’t see class or divide, she lives life on her own terms and she feels she is entitled to live a life like that.”

Getting into the skin of the character is almost always an arduous task and Monica says: “I was raised as a Hindu, traditionally at that, so playing Noor called for altering certain aspects of my body language. Considering Noor is the help of the house in the 1970s, my responses, mannerisms and look had to change quite a bit for my role. One of the other challenges was that the film was shot really quickly. I shot for it in October and it has already hit the theatres so we didn’t really have the leniency of time on hand. Most importantly, the biggest challenge was to learn Urdu and it wasn’t a very easy task; nonetheless I was able to pull it off.”

“Bejoy Nambiar is an amazing director to work with. He’s extremely clear about what he wants but he also completely trusts his actors. My hard work aside, it was Bejoy’s constant push and encouragement that helped me pull off this role.”

Given that her career in films is steadily picking up, ask her whether she enjoys singing or acting more and she states:

“I’ve never really had to choose only one of the two. I’ve studied musical theatre so singing as well as acting have always been a large part of what I do. Having said that, I’m really happy I kick started my career when I was only 12 years of age and that I was born with a clear idea of what I wanted to do in life.”

What’s next on the cards for her?

“My next film Fireflies directed by Sabal Sheikhwat starring Rahul Khanna, Arjun Mathur, Shivani Ghai and others, will be out soon.” On the music front, Shaa’ir + Func, her prolific electro-rock band with genius guitarist/producer Randolph Correia are working on their fourth studio album, which will see the light of day later this year.

neeti sarkar

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