Puja special: Tolly star Koel Mallick talks about Rawkto Rawhoshyo and self-care during motherhood
Though women-centric movies in mainstream Bollywood has been well-accepted at the box office for over a decade now, the number of movies with female protagonists can be counted on fingertips in the Bengali film industry. Barring a few movies like Parama, Paromitar Ekdin, or Unishe April, there are hardly any movies in the past few decades that impressed the box office riding on the strength of the female actor.
Almost all the big Puja releases bet on the male leads to ensure box office success. But last year Tollywood’s most congenial star Koel Mallick changed all that with her sleeper hit Mitin Mashi, where she played a homemaker who’s also equally good in sleuthing. In fact, the movie has resonated so well with the audience that the makers have planned for a franchise.
This year too, the actor, who became a mother during the lockdown, is back with an emotional and medical thriller Rawkto Rawhoshyo, where she will be seen in the lead role of a radio jockey, who uncovers a long-hidden truth of her life after receiving a phone call.
Just like her characters on screen, behind the apparently fragile countenance of hers, lies an extremely tough woman, who’s capable of packing quite a punch if required. The apparent similarities with the goddess of the season can hardly be missed too. A COVID-19 survivor, she vanquished the virus and will be celebrating the homecoming of Ma, along with her baby.
On the professional front, while most of her male colleagues — who are usually on the screen entertaining the audience at the theatres during the Pujas — are watching the show from the aisle this year, Koel is battling it out at the box office along with 11 other movies, to bring back the audience to the cinema halls, shedding the fear of the pandemic.
Just before the release of Rawkto Rawhoshyo, we had a heart-to-heart chat with the star about the film, motherhood and the way she successfully fought the virus during when the baby was always at her side. Excerpts:
Last year you ruled the box office with Mitin Mashi, and this year it’s Rawkto Rawhoshyo. Tell us a little about your role?
It’s a tale of a mother and it’s very close to my heart because the story’s bound to strike an emotional chord. I have never done something similar before and I am grateful to Soukarya Ghosal (the director of the film) for offering me such a beautiful character.
It’s an emotional, investigative medical thriller so I can’t reveal much. I am playing a radio jockey Swarnaja, who has given up on hope in life and is an absolute loser. She trusts people easily and sacrifices for others. It’s her trusting nature that gets her into deep trouble and how she gradually gets stronger after becoming a mom forms the crux of the story.
It’s another strong character like in Mitin Mashi…
Not really. Mitin has always been strong, confident and go-getter. Swarnaja is absolutely the reverse, who slowly evolves from being an underdog to a strong, confident woman.
So much happened in your life in 2020, so far. You became a mother, you recovered from COVID-19 and now you are back at the theatres with Rawkto Rawhosyo. It must have been an exhausting year for you.
For most of us, the year has been a trying one due to the global pandemic. It has affected me directly too. But despite it all, 2020 will remain the best year of my life since I became a mother this year. Nothing can dampen or mar the feeling and happiness of being a mother since motherhood is a unique experience altogether.
All other adversities and crises seem trivial and surmountable compared to the delight of being a mother. It’s a beautiful and overwhelming feeling.
I really still can’t comprehend how we contracted COVID-19 since we maintained all the rules and never stepped out. It was a bolt from the blue and befuddled us completely, throwing us into a tough situation with the newborn baby at home. But my family and I combated it with all the positivity despite going through a difficult time.
How did you take care of the baby?
Oh, he was there with me throughout under strict guidance from our paediatrician. I was continuously wearing gloves, mask and applying sanitizer. I was over-cautious.
How is your husband, Rane (Nispal Singh), as a father?
Rane is a hands-down father. There are days when I am too tired to even get up to attend the baby. He then takes charge silently and changes the nappies and cradles the baby. It’s essential to strike a balance if both the parents are working and Rane and I are very committed towards the family just as we are towards our work, which makes our lives easier.
Tell us what were the things you did to recover. There are several new or expectant moms, who might find it useful…
The very first thing I did was to stay positive and not lose my strength. One should never get overpowered by the fear of a pandemic. Negative thinking makes things worse. To keep myself mentally strong, I did a lot of chanting and prayers, which creates a positive environment.
Also, I have always believed in fitness since immunity always gets stronger if you remain fit. So, staying fit and doing exercises have always been a priority for me. In fact, throughout my pregnancy, I walked for at least half-an-hour and did yoga. To recover and stay healthy I keep on having warm water, Vitamin C, zinc and inhale the steam. Protein intake is also very crucial for new moms. But one must consult their physicians before following anything.
You are very much back to shape. How?
No, I have miles to go before I achieve my original shape. I got 12 more kilos to knock off. But I am taking it slow because my son draws nutrition from me and hence I can’t crash diet. Also, during the first three months, I wanted to be solely with my little one.
After three months, I slowly started resuming my fitness routine in consultation with my doctor and started off with zumba. Since I exercised throughout my pregnancy, it wasn’t tough to get back to work-out after a three-month gap. Now. I am going to the gym regularly since my baby is six months old.
What kind of diet and hair and skincare regimen are you following?
Again, because of the baby, I can’t follow any crash diet and my food comprises a balanced mix of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and vitamins. I have anyways always believed in a wholesome nutritive diet so that there’s no deficiency.
I am a big foodie and eat everything but they have to be homemade and light-spiced. Having wholesome thick daal like rajma or even masoor and a bowlful of fresh veggies are very nutritive for a new mother. Also, I sip water throughout the day even if I am not thirsty. Winter means loads of freshly pressed oranges for me.
As for the skin and hair care, to be very honest, I simply had no time to take special care of my hair and skin during these past few months of motherhood. But I always have balanced food and if there’s no nutrition deficiency, that inevitably reflects on skin and hair.
What are the future projects you are working on?
After Rawkto Rawhoshyo, my film Bonny with Parambrata is slated for release and definitely, there will be another instalment of Mitin called Firche Mitin. As of late, I am reading a lot of interesting scripts but for new announcements, I guess they will happen only in 2021.
How are you spending the Pujas?
It will be very difficult this year for all of us. We are all celebrating with a lot of caution and safety. People should take all precautions to prevent getting infected during the Pujas. I hope Ma will be the harbinger of new hope and positivity and take away this coronavirus from our lives. That’s my only prayer to her.