After an impressive web series like ‘The Scam’, all eyes are on Pratik Gandhi’s upcoming Bollywood movie ‘Bhavai’. He essays the role of a theatre artist in the entertainer and his character falls in love with Rani, played by Aindrita Ray. While the movie is a promising love story, it landed in controversy for its title, ‘Ravan Leela’. After a name change, the film is set for release on October 22. In an exclusive interaction with ETimes, the film’s leading lady Aindrita, spoke about her prep for the movie, her experience of working with Pratik, the films’ name change controversy, and much more. Excerpts:

How did you land ‘Bhavai’. What went into the prep for the film?Actually, I was immediately selected after an audition in Mumbai, but they had a few concerns about my Hindi. I had a two-and-a-half-week intense workshop because of a slight Bengali accent in my Hindi. They wanted my Hindi to be like nautanki, drama companies. I had to even change the way I walk and talk as my character belongs to those nautanki companies from back in the day, who would perform Ram Leela in different villages. This movie is set in the ’80s and has a bit of a Gujarati flavor to it. On stage, my character plays Sita, for which my body language had to be completely different, and off stage, I play this character called Rani, who is quite the opposite, full of life, peppy. She dreams to be a well-known actress and because of her struggles, she’s forced to be in this nautanki company.

Your experience of working with Pratik Gandhi…
When we started shooting the film, I was aware of the fact that he is a well-known Gujarati actor and he was also aware of the fact that I was a well-known Kannada and Bengali actor. So, getting along with him was very easy. He is a thorough professional, even when we were not shooting. I was in awe of his performance and he would be so into each scene.
For instance, there was a slapping scene, in which I had to slap him, and he’d asked me to slap him for real. I’ve never done that before but he is a method actor and because of him being such a thorough professional and a super theatre actor, it also helped me perform better. So, I would definitely give him credit for my performance in ‘Bhavai’; he is one of those co-actors who bring the best out in you. There was a retake, but it wasn’t because of us, but because of the camera angle. I had to slap him twice and he asked for it, but that’s how dedicated he is, as an actor. I had to really match up to his performance.
‘Bhavai’ has had a controversial name change. What’s your take on it?
My character Rani innocently falls in love with Pratik Gandhi’s character in the movie. ‘Bhavai’ is a pure love story and it is being misinterpreted in the trailer. People have wrongly assumed that it has some kind of a Ram Leela aspect to it. You can’t make up your mind with just a few scenes in the trailer. People thought that the movie is against Hindus, but all of us are Hindus on the sets. It has no religious aspect whatsoever, but it’s just really sad that people are becoming intolerant; it’s like one person started it and it just spread like wildfire; then there were groups forming more groups. But the director and the entire team decided not to hurt the sentiments of the audience because at the end of the day, it shouldn’t be misinterpreted. We’ve taken out the scenes to respect their sentiments.
You are a popular Kannada actress, who is now embarking on a journey in Bollywood. What is your take on the pay disparity faced by female actors in the industry?
I have often spoken about it but nothing much is being done. I’ve given a lot of hits in the past, and in spite of that, when my remuneration wasn’t being hiked like in the case of the actors, I did voice my opinion about it. But then nothing really happened. In Bollywood though, things have changed, as a lot of women-oriented subjects are being made. But in the South, there’s not much. So, once the audience starts liking subjects that are women-centric, only then the pay will change. Since the audience is not approving of the subject, the producers are not taking the risk. It’s all interlinked.

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