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Rashmika Mandanna: ‘The comedy in Sarileru Neekevvaru has a lot of physicality involved’

Rashmika Mandanna

Rashmika Mandanna   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

The actor talks about trying comedy for the first time in the Mahesh Babu-starrer, and why she feels responsible as an actor

Rashmika Mandanna gives a characteristic shrug when she says ‘never before, ever after’, the phrase that’s become popular from the trailer of Sarileru Neekevvaru.

Taking time out for this interview at Annapurna Studios, with barely days to go for the release of the much-hyped film, she says, “I never thought I could make people laugh. When I did my first Telugu film Chalo, it was to see if people here would accept me. In Geetha Govindam I had to be angry and grumpy most of the time, which I am not in real life. My friends said I was slowly turning into a grumpy Geetha off screen as well. And in Dear Comrade I cried quite a bit. With Sarileru I got to laugh and hopefully will make everyone laugh.”

She punctuates our brief conversation with a lot of laughter. Those who’ve seen her on set know her as someone full of life and eager to talk. But she admits that enacting the comedy portions wasn’t that simple. “There was a lot of physicality involved,” she says, throwing up her arms and imitating some of the exaggerated body language her character demanded. “Anil sir [director Anil Ravipudi] helped me with it,” she adds.

Rashmika was 19 when she acted in her first film Kirrik Party (Kannada); it was a blockbuster. At 23, she feels she has become responsible with the recognition after each film. “Initially it was all about giving acting a try. It (Kirrik Party) was welcomed so well that I realised it’s a responsibility to be an actor. When people give you so much love, you’ve got to give back by choosing good, entertaining films. I am trying to experiment and see what I am capable of. I am evolving, have learnt Telugu, and believe that even in a film with a normal storyline and script, I can bring in some value addition,” she avers.

Sarileru Neekevvaru places Rashmika amid established actors — Mahesh Babu, Vijayashanthi, Sangeetha, Prakash Raj and others — and she says about breaking the ice, “I’ve acted in big films before, but the co-stars there were more like friends. The thought of acting with superstars like Mahesh and Vijayashanti ma’am made me nervous. I went in thinking what do I do now! I started talking to them, understanding how they built their careers. Soon I was like ‘they were also new at one point; they are also normal people’. I have huge respect for them and slowly, I started being myself on sets. I had fun and didn’t pretend to be mature beyond my age in their presence. It came to a point where, in all seriousness, we would discuss which flavour of ice cream is good.”

Rashmika has signed up director Sukumar’s next project starring Allu Arjun, and director Venky Kudumula’s Bheeshma is up for release in February. She’s also a part of the Karthi-starrer Sultan (Tamil). She signed these films before the release of Dear Comrade, in which she played the vulnerable cricketer Lilly who faces sexual harassment. “Unless you put your work out there, a lot of people don’t realise what you are capable of. My work got noticed. I realised I cannot be just an eye candy any more. All the three films I am doing now have such different roles,” she says.

She remembers getting emotional while filming the climax of Dear Comrade: “Vijay [Deverakonda] and [director] Bharat Kamma talked to me about how women express their anger when they are pushed to their limits. I got so involved emotionally. I could imagine how a girl caught in such a situation would react,” she says, signing off.

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 4:37:31 PM |

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