The perfect cop: Mamta Malik

forging her own path: Choosing a film career has not been a smooth ride for Mamta Malik   | Photo Credit: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury

While texting filmmaker Shoojit Sircar for the contact of actor Mamta Malik, I was almost certain that he would come back with the news that she is not an actor, but a constable posted in either Gurgaon or Faridabad. When I meet her, a diminutive, unrecognisable, denim-clad Malik tells us smilingly that an extremely talented Bollywood actor thought so too and even laid a wager on it. She reveals his name on condition that we keep it off the record: “It will make me sound too pompous when I don’t have much to show for myself as an actor,” she says.

We catch up with Malik, who plays the Haryanvi cop gunning for the girls in Pink, in the office of casting director and actor Jogi Malang, with whom she works as an assistant. “I was the one who cast Kirti Kulhari and did a workshop with Andrea Tariang,” smiles Malik. So not only, has she been a part of a good ensemble cast, but she’s also instrumental in helping Malang put it together. Incidentally, Malang himself played an inspector in the film.

Malik has just returned from the film’s press conference where she had shared the stage with the team. “It was my first press conference. My legs were shivering,” she says.

Like her on-screen avatar, Sarla Premchand, Malik is also from Haryana. Born in Kalkha village in Panipat district, she grew up in Chandigarh, Pathankot, Kurukshetra and Delhi, where her father was posted in the Army. A post-graduate in journalism and mass communications, Malik feels the itinerant life has been significant in moulding her as an actor. No wonder then, that the four-day shoot as Sarla was no big deal. “You can see the cops everywhere in Delhi; their mannerisms are so in your face, you don’t need to go to a police station to get to know them,” she says.

Malik gets a police constable’s body language and the attitude to a T: the arrogance in the gait, those hands in the pocket, the stony face. Her only concern was whether she could pull off a mature look on screen. And the technical details, camera placements and angles took a bit of getting used to. “I did all the scenes in one or two takes,” she says with pride. Malik’s big challenge was the scene with Amitabh Bachchan in the court. “To fumble next to him would have been such a letdown. But he makes things so easy during rehearsals. It was all so flawless, without any jerks,” she says.

However, choosing acting as a career has not been as smooth a ride for her. The rest of her conventional, old-fashioned extended family has not been approving of her Bollywood ambitions. Except for her father. “He is very open-minded. He is the kind you can introduce your boyfriend to, lets you dress up the way you want to. For him, his children’s happiness is above everything else,” she says.

Malik did theatre in Delhi for two years and one fine day, just decided to move to Mumbai, where she knew no one. Like most Bollywood strugglers, she still remembers the date: June 15, 2012.

Small roles in TV serials and ads followed. “I had no clue about dressing up and make-up and used to wear the same suit to various sets,” she says, recollecting those gauche days. She worked for a while in a production house on a horror show. Eventually, during audition rounds, she met Malang. “He has been the guide, [and has] brought out the best in me.”

Malik’s first milestone was one of the ‘BJP Achche Din’ ads. “That was when my family saw me for the first time on-screen.” Her first film role, however, is still a cause for much mirth. It was in NH 10, where she had to say just one line to Anushka Sharma: “Ma’am aap theek ho?” (Ma’am, are you all right?).

Has the family back home seen Pink? Her strict, orthodox mother has, and approved of it. “It’s universal; something every woman would identify with.” She doesn’t know if her traditional-minded brother has taken a look or not. She now wants to show it to her father..

Mumbai has become home, even though she is confident that she can survive in any city in the world. “Isn’t there a dialogue in the Shah Rukh Khan film… ‘Agar kisi cheez ko dil se chaaho to puri kayanat usey tumse milane ki koshish mein lag jaati hai’… I wanted to drop anchor here, I did,” she states confidently.

Meanwhile, she is busy helping Malang with the future projects while she waits for her next role. As we leave her, she is basking in the glory of the latest small achievement: a hug from Big B at the press conference.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2022 2:52:56 PM |

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