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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

COOL CONFIDENCEMonica DograPhoto: Courtesy Anushka Menon
COOL CONFIDENCEMonica DograPhoto: Courtesy Anushka Menon

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 discovered Monica through a Shaa’ir + Func (Monica’s band) performance. “Bejoy narrated the story to me and said he had found his Noor in me.”

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

In real life, Monica says, she is not “completely like Noor. There have been phases in my life when I have expressed my views because it was called for. I’m not someone who goes against the grain. I’m more like someone who goes against the wrong grain.”

Getting into the skin of the character was arduous, says Monical. Playing Noor called for altering certain aspects of her body language. “My responses, mannerisms and look had to change. The other challenge was that the film was shot really quickly. I shot for it in October and it has already hit the theatres. The biggest challenge was to learn Urdu ; nonetheless I was able to pull it off.”

About her co-star Neil Nitin Mukesh, Monica says: “Neil really provided me the guidance I needed. It initially took us time to figure each other out but once we did, we became really good friends. Also, he taught me a lot about photography.”

Her director Bejoy, she says, is extremely clear about what he wants and also completely trusts his actors. “There are no shades of grey with him. He’s the kind of director who is wholly immersed in his film at any given time. He provides consistent feedback. It was Bejoy’s constant push and encouragement that helped me pull off this role.”

What’s next on the cards for her? “My next film Fireflies directed by Sabal Sheikhwat stars Rahul Khanna, Arjun Mathur and Shivani Ghai. ” Shaa’ir + Func, her prolific electro-rock band with genius guitarist/producer Randolph Correia are working on their fourth studio album. Monica has also started working on her first solo album.

NEETI SARKAR

I’m not someone who goes against the grain. I’m more like someone who goes against the wrong grain.

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