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Manushi Chhillar: Was mentally ready for brief of supportive wife

Updated on: 25 February,2024 10:07 PM IST  |  Mohar Basu
Mohar Basu |

With action films offering limited scope to heroines, Manushi thrilled to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with hero as a radar controller in Operation Valentine

Manushi Chhillar: Was mentally ready for brief of supportive wife

Manushi Chillar

As a generation that has grown up on Top Gun (1986), Bollywood movie fans have often desired a desi counterpart. Similarly, actors like the idea of fronting a story about the Indian Air Force (IAF)—from Hrithik Roshan and Deepika Padukone in Fighter, to Manushi Chhillar in the upcoming Operation Valentine. Chhillar says it was the glory of the men and women in the uniform that drew her to the Varun Tej-led action thriller, even though she was initially told the role was of an Air Force officer’s wife.

“My agent told me, ‘She is an Air Force officer’s wife waiting for him to come back home.’ As I read the script on a flight, I kept turning the pages wondering where the wife was, but she was [so much more],” laughs the leading lady, before adding, “A film centred on the air force is always about action. But Operation Valentine is also a poignant story about human relationships and the officers’ camaraderie.”

Varun Tej plays an IAF officer
Varun Tej plays an IAF officer

By design, films about the Armed Forces offer little scope to their female characters. But the actor was delighted to see that director Shakti Pratap Singh Hada had developed a strong arc for her part, making her a radar controller. “I was mentally ready for the brief of a supportive wife. But in the script, I met a wife who goes along with her husband to war. I am a DRDO [Defence Research and Development Organisation] kid, and my uncle is in the army. I grew up around these families. It is a fact that many women, who work in the Armed Forces, get married to the men in the profession. That dynamic is beautifully reflected in the film. Also, now, we have many more women in the force. A year ago, we had the first female fighter pilot of the IAF. Things are changing, and that is shown in our movies.”

In her second film after Samrat Prithviraj (2022), the actor is proud to portray a strong-willed woman. “My character, Wing Commander Ahana Gill, is inspired by a real-life officer who was on set with us. As a radar controller, my character has to make rational decisions, within milliseconds, [that will determine] whether her pilot will be alive or not.”

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