Exclusive - Pranutan Bahl on her entry in Bollywood: It's home ground for me
In an exclusive interview with mid-day.com for her debut film Notebook, Pranutan Bahl gets candid about love, co-actor Zaheer Iqbal, Salman Khan and more
Pranutan Bahl's innocent face will remind you of her grandmother - late veteran actor Nutan. Pranutan may be Mohnish Bahl's daughter, but she is proud of stepping into the Hindi film industry on pure talent and hard work. She doesn't think you are entitled to be an actor just because you are part of a family of actors. A double law graduate, this 26-year-old bares it all about her debut film Notebook, releasing on March 29, co-actor Zaheer Iqbal, her equation with Salman Khan, and her idea of love in this exclusive interview with mid-day.com. Edited excerpts:
How did you bag this role?
I was called in for an audition, and I gave a four to five-hour-long audition. It was amazing and extremely positive. I was patient and gave it time and he (Nitin Kakkar, Notebook director) just wouldn't let go until he thought that he had extracted my full potential. That is very encouraging for a newcomer or for any actor. About eighteen days later, I got a call saying that I had been selected.
How was it facing the camera for the first time?
It was the best feeling ever. It's like something you wanted all your life and it's just culminating in the most beautiful way possible.
Pranutan Bahl in a still from the film. Picture courtesy: Instagram/pranutan
Did you have any pre-conceived notions about the film industry?
No, I was happy. It's home ground for me. There's no place in this world where I would be happier.
What made you leave law and choose films?
I am a double graduate in law and that's a lot of studying. I always wanted to be an actor, but I didn't believe in not completing my education. So, when I was about 16-17 years old, I thought that if I dedicate four to five years of my life to what I should be at this stage, that won't take away anything from me, rather it will mould me.
How was it working with Zaheer and how did you break the ice with each other?
We didn't need to break the ice. We've actually gotten along from the day I auditioned. He started pulling my leg a bit in the audition and it has just become manifold now. We have so much goodness and honesty for each other. He always says that we are each other's biggest fans and biggest critics. So, if there's anything wrong, the first person we think of is each other. I always think that I must have done something good in my life to deserve him as my co-actor.
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Do you think you'll share this mutual feeling of understanding considering it's the debut film for you both?
I think yes, it has got a lot to do with that also because all the experiences are so special in similar ways. Having said that, when two people get along, it has a lot to do with the vibe and energy and the kind of people you are. It doesn't always have to do with what you're doing because I am sure that there are people who work at the same time in the same office or set and they may not gel with each other. We are just as psycho as each other.
With such an intense storyline, which revolves around love, how do you think will the audience perceive it?
They'll perceive it exactly how it is meant to be - a charming romance where there is longing and unconditional love. 'Beintehaan Mohabbat', that's what Kabir and Firdaus (Zaheer and Pranutan's characters in this film) are. And I know that ultimately there is a lot of depth in that kind of love. If somebody would wait for you for a month to just see you for five minutes, for me, that's a huge thing. I think we all love that.
So, are you a die-hard romantic at heart?
No. Even if I love somebody, I am not very expressive about it, and I don't know how to be. My form of love will be, 'Are you okay?' 'Have you eaten?' 'Have you reached home?' and stuff like that. I am not into like, 'Let's watch a movie every Friday.' Although I love it and I wish I could be. I love it when people do that, but it's not something that I can do. I think it's very cute to give someone a rose. I wish I was expressive.
Do you think the kind of love shown in Notebook exists in this digital age?
Love is a universal emotion. We've started relying on digital and social media to connect us or to further our connection. Just because you have a phone doesn't mean you make time for somebody. So, the flipside also applies. I feel social media should, in fact, further the love with its connectivity. And it has; it has made us more connected to our loved ones, but notebooks are better.
It was written that you did not want people to know that you belong to a film family. Why is that?
I don't believe in this concept of getting opportunities based on anything but your deserving criteria. I don't understand this logic. If there is a process, which is that you want to be an actor, there are thousands of casting offices in Mumbai. Go to those offices and see if you are worthy of being in front of the camera. Just because it's in your lineage and in your genes, it doesn't mean that there is an entitlement. Even if you get that opportunity because of your connection, what's going to happen in your second and third film? The talent has to be squeezed out. I have never done that. I have never told my dad till date to make a call for me, whether it's for an audition or a meeting or anything else.
How's your equation with Salman Khan?
It's great. He's always ready with whatever he has to give us, in terms of his experiences, his life stories; he's very funny. I love hanging out with him because his sense of humour is amazing. Also, he keeps telling me stories about dad (Mohnish Bahl) and him. He's got the same twinkle in his eye when he's talking about his struggling days.
Photo Courtesy: Pranutan Bahl's Instagram account
There are many who say that you resemble your grandmom, Nutan. How does it feel to hear that?
For resemblance, I would just bow my head and say, 'Thank You'. I am not even her fingernail; I can't be. She is a performer par excellence, personality par excellence. I think that's the hugest compliment for an actor, especially for a debutant.
Which is your favourite film of hers (Nutan)?
What kind of characters would you want to portray in future?
I am not looking at anything but good stories. I don't want to put myself in a box and say, 'I've done one romantic film, next will be this.' For me, it doesn't make sense to approach films or my career with genres. I believe in stories; it's very passion-oriented. If something inspires you, one should do it.
What attracts you the most - being an actor or being called a star?
I am getting used to both now. Let one happen or anything happen, but I would love it if people said that I am a good actor. It would give me the ultimate high.
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