Tollywood star Koel Mallick says she needs to be excited about a role to choose to do a film now
Koel Mallick is on a whodunnit spree and enjoying it to the hilt. The superstar, last seen in Soukarya Ghosal’s 2020 Puja release Rawkto Rawhoshyo, rocked in her part as a vulnerable mother in search of her child. And now, in Abhimanyu Mukherjee’s Flyover, which releases in theatres today, she will be seen as an investigative journalist. We caught up with the actor — who is relishing every bit of her real-life role of a mom to her 10-month-old son, Kabir — over a cuppa, to get a glimpse of her life and work. Excerpts:
Flyover is your first release of the year. Tell us about your role in the film?
Flyover is one of my few movies that got stalled due to the pandemic. It’s a thriller but there’s a huge emotional side to it that got me invested in it. My character, Bidisha, is a journalist and writes a news report on how people often remove blocks from the dividing line in a flyover to take a U-turn easily and thereby exposing others to grave danger.
Her reportage leads to the unravelling of other vital issues that puts her life in danger. But she is relentless and never gives up. It’s a thriller with a strong moral message that we often break rules without realising the fatal impact they might have on the lives of others.
How did you prepare for your role?
I keep meeting so many journalists and some of them are my friends too. I have a strong impression in my mind about scribes and over the years, I have picked up certain traits of theirs. Bidisha looks vulnerable, stays alone in the city as a paying guest but her strength and will power come to the fore only when she gets dragged into a crisis. She is dogged, persevering and unstoppable and can take any risk when it comes to her work.
This is your first film under Abhimanyu’s direction…
The best part about Abhimanyu is that he never loses his cool under any circumstances and is very fast in his work. There are many filmmakers who bring their personal baggage to work that adds to the tension on the floor. It’s essential on the part of a filmmaker to not lose his composure under any circumstances. If you are flustered, then others, especially artistes, get disoriented. Abhimanyu definitely is one of the calmest individuals I have worked with.
You are, of late, working with relatively new filmmakers. Is that a conscious decision?
Not really, it’s rather a very spontaneous decision. It’s important for me to explore and grow as an actor and new filmmakers bring in a lot of fresh ideas to the table which is very essential for an artiste to be excited about a project. I have worked for almost 18 years in the film industry now, and I am absolutely thankful for all the successful commercial films that have made me the star I am. But at the same time, I was also keen for quite some time to work in content-driven films. Working with people with new dreams and passions is refreshing since often with time many filmmakers become complacent and comfortable in their own zones, reluctant to experiment. I believe in breaking and rediscovering myself with every new film.
Are you enjoying this phase more than your commercial successes?
I won’t say that since reigning the box office gives you a different sort of kick. But I also love this phase equally.
How would you like people to remember you — as box office queen or a serious actor?
I am absolutely greedy when it comes to cinema and I would like them to remember me as both.
What do you think about the OTT platform?
Cinema viewing is an experience and has to be big. But OTTs are definitely becoming a platform of choice for filmmakers and actors to explore different content. With theatre releases, no one can afford to take big risks. Bengali OTT content, too, is slowly maturing.
What’s keeping you away from the OTTs?
First, being a mom is a priority now and I also don’t believe in the idea of ‘out of sight-out of mind’. So, I’m probably waiting for the right offers.
How is motherhood treating you?
It’s wonderful being a mom. I think whether you are a mother or not, that’s a matter of choice, but the maternal instinct is there in each one of us. I never knew what I was missing until I became a mother.
And what’s the secret of getting back to shape?
We see a lot of interesting zumba videos on your Instagram feed… Apart from zumba, a lot of serious grinding goes on at the gym including stretch exercises, a lot of weight training and cardio. Of late, I am conscious of my diet too and I’ve chosen to go slow on carbs and to eat mindfully.
Any other projects in the pipeline?
I will begin shooting for the second installment of Mitin Mashi and my film Bonny will release soon too. Besides, I am reading new scripts but it has to be worthwhile to take me away from my comfort zone at home.