Angry Indian Goddesses’ star Pavleen Gujral, who broke the mould by entering the movie industry post her marriage, tells Guardian 20 that it’s time people in the industry stopped linking an actor’s career with their marital status.
“Being a wife or a mother does not define or affect my performance as an actor. My husband Manik has always been super supportive of everything I have done and I am extremely lucky and blessed to have him. But I wish more people in the industry would think like him and look at an actor’s professional and personal life separately. I have played a 21-year-old and a 50-year-old woman in my last two projects and neither is my age. So guess I have an incredible support system around me and that makes everything easy,” she said.
Gujral, who was a lawyer before moving to the world of modelling and finally to acting, looked back on her professional journey. “It has been a rollercoaster ride,” she said. “Modelling just happened by coincidence after I modelled for my friends’ show on a news channel and hence got a call from the Elite Modelling Agency in New Delhi. Over a period of five years as a model, I got a few film offers as well but was never interested. Although I have a very heavy background in theatre both on and off stage, theatre and film are very different mediums. I always felt that something was missing when I was doing modelling, which I found in anchoring. I hosted about five shows of various genres, ranging from food shows to wedding shows to fitness shows along with live shows as well. Alongside, I also did a bunch of television commercials as well.”
On being asked the reason for her absence from screen post AIG, the actress said, “Well, the truth is I became a mother soon after I shot for Angry Indian Goddesses and decided to be a dedicated mother for the first two years and I am glad I did it as I am much more sorted in my head now. There were great offers coming my way post the release of Angry Indian Goddesses, but I just did not want to take them up at that time. Now I am back with a bang and things are going great.”
Calling Angry Indian Goddesses her dream debut, Gujral said, “I could not have asked for a better project for my first time. I could not have asked for a better director, better co-stars who are now friends for life or a better team to work with. I am truly lucky to start with a film like this in this industry. The love and adulation that I have got for this film are beyond any box office review or any critics review. People have hugged me and cried after watching the film. We, the actresses of Angry Indian Goddesses, have such a strong connection with each other that it is incomparable to anything else. I love them all.”
The actress is also eager to be a part of commercial cinema as she absolutely adores the whole scene. “Although I don’t know how much justice I will do to such a part, still I would like to try. I have grown up watching movies like Thanedaar (1990) and Yalgaar (1992). I am also glad about the way cinema is changing now as there is an emphasis on real cinema as well. But commercial cinema will never go out of style.”
She will soon be seen in a movie titled Zindagi Kashmakash. Talking about her role in the film, she said, “I play a doctor who has moved back to India from the US. The story is intertwined between three characters and I am one of them. I can’t tell much about it as I am not supposed to, but it centres on the importance of counselling and psychiatric help in this fast-paced world and how our relationships govern who we are and what we are. This is director Nirnimesh Dube’s first movie as a writer also, and because of the way the script was written, I immediately said yes. I am really looking forward to this one as it will change people’s perspective on a lot of things, hopefully.”
On being asked about her views on experimenting with new media like many TV actors and movie stars, Gujral said, “Well I think the lines in both the mediums are blurring a bit with the advent of web series and a lot of interesting web content. Also, there is a surge of real cinema and real acting in both the mediums that make the transition easier. As far as I am concerned, I just want to do the kind of work that I would remember and be proud of, be it any medium. If a script makes me think, whether for TV or the big screen, I am on board.
“I strive to be a great performer. I want to sing, dance, write, direct and also act. An actor has to be a complete performer these days. He or she should be able to do all of the above and bring something new to the table and should also know the intricacies of filmmaking at the same time. I want to play a child or an old woman. I want to play all characters, from a terrorist to an astronaut. I want to go global and play a lawyer fighting cases in a court in Nevada. I want to do workshops with my speech, my accent. I want to learn the different dialects of our country as that is where the masala is. I want to do all of the above and more, and I am doing it,” she added.
The actress said that one day she would love to work with Aamir Khan and Raj Kumar Hirani. She would also like to do a Dharma Production or a Yashraj film, and go global by becoming a part of movies featuring Quentin Tarantino or Al Pacino.
In the future, she will also be seen in a TV show for Discovery Entertainment. Talking about the show, she said, “This was a beautiful project which is actually a biography of a prominent sports personality of our time— Harinder Singh—the current coach of the Indian women’s hockey team, which also won the Asia Cup recently. I play his wife Samiksha in the film who has been an inspiration for me in real life too, as there are so many aspects that were relatable. Kranti Prakash Jha plays the lead and I could not have asked for a more passionate co-star. It did not really feel like a TV show as it is a short six-episode series shot like a film. My director Satish Raj was an absolute delight to work with who gave me so much freedom as an actor that I was living the character the whole time. I am sure this one is going to touch a lot of hearts.”