Mrunal Thakur: I did not move from my seat as Shouryuv narrated ‘Hi Nanna’; it is all about love

Mrunal Thakur discusses her second Telugu film ‘Hi Nanna’, directed by Shouryuv and co-starring Nani, and her admiration for the high benchmark for romance, set by Shah Rukh Khan

December 04, 2023 04:41 pm | Updated 04:47 pm IST

Nani and Mrunal Thakur in the Telugu film ‘Hi Nanna’

Nani and Mrunal Thakur in the Telugu film ‘Hi Nanna’ | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

When Mrunal Thakur’s first Telugu film Sita Ramam released, it came like a breath of fresh air and reiterated that there is an audience for old-world romance. Incidentally, her second Telugu film Hi Nanna, which will release in theatres on December 7, comes at a time when larger-than-life action films dominate the box office. “I believe everything happens for the good,” says Mrunal, in her brief interview with The Hindu while discussing her film directed by Shouryuv and co-starring Nani, child actor Kiara Khanna, Jayaram and Priyadarshi. 

She recalls her childhood, when her father had a transferable job and the family moved to different parts of the country. When they were to move to Mumbai, she had her reservations about moving to a big city. “But Mumbai is where I discovered my passion towards acting and it shaped my career.” 

Talking about Hi Nanna releasing in the same month as that of Animal, Sam Bahadur, Dunki and Salaar, she says, “Every film has its audience — romance, action, horror… and there are those who are open to watching every kind of cinema. I think this is the best way to end the year, where films in different genres are being released in theatres.”

Mrunal Thakur in the Telugu film ‘Hi Nanna’, directed by Shouryuv

Mrunal Thakur in the Telugu film ‘Hi Nanna’, directed by Shouryuv | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Unwavering attention

She signed Hi Nanna a year after Sita Ramam. She was beseeched with offers from Telugu cinema but took her time. Mrunal remembers how she and her team sat in rapt attention, not even taking a restroom break as writer-director Shouryuv narrated the relationship drama. “It is human tendency to get distracted while listening to a narration. But we all sat there, not moving from our seats. When you do not want a story to end and are eager to listen more, it is the best feeling ever.”

Mrunal plays Yashna who meets photographer Viraj (Nani), who is a single father living with his daughter Mahi (Kiara Khanna). She says it is among the best scripts she has come across and that the character has a definite arc. “The film is not only about the hero. Everyone has a part to play. Take one character out and the story will not be the same.”

In between Sita Ramam and Hi Nanna, the audience has seen her in the anthology Lust Stories 2, the web series Made in Heaven 2 and Hindi films Gumraah and Pippa. Her earlier body of work includes television shows and Marathi cinema. Mrunal says she tries to choose her projects and characters with a sense of responsibility, “Thankfully, no one has told me so far kitni gandi picture mein hai (she’s a part of a bad film).”

Nani and Mrunal Thakur in the song ‘Samayama’ in the film ‘Hi Nanna’

Nani and Mrunal Thakur in the song ‘Samayama’ in the film ‘Hi Nanna’ | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Bring back romance

A romantic at heart, she believes in the power of human relationships and love. “It is perfectly normal to go through phases of jealousy, anger and insecurity and some of these emotions get amplified in cinema. When I chose Sita Ramam, I felt it was my responsibility to be a part of a film that brings back the idea of love. I have had many young fans tell me how much they loved the film. I hope they grow up believing in love.”

She goes on to talk about how she fell in love with the romance that Shah Rukh Khan was instrumental in bringing alive on screen. “He has set the benchmark high for love. One of the reasons I am still single is maybe because I have not come across anyone like that in real life. But I believe that I will, some day,” and adds that Hi Nanna is a film that is all about love. Post Sita Ramam, which was a period drama, she wanted to be a part of modern romance and this film fit the bill. “As an actor, it is important to like a character if I am going to spend around 120 days working on a film. Otherwise, how will I be able to convince the audience to watch it?”

There was a brief phase, prior to Sita Ramam, when some of her Hindi films didn’t bring in big box office numbers. Reflecting on that phase, Mrunal says she often reminds herself of the lessons she has learnt from her father: “He taught me not to get attached to success and failure and rather focus on what is next. Acceptance is everything.”

Before she signs off, she mentions that she is at peace and looking forward to the release of Hi Nanna. “I spoke to my director yesterday; he had completed all the post-production formalities and was happy with the output. I have a few butterflies in my stomach but I am not nervous. I have faith in the audience and I am confident that our work will be appreciated.” 

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