'I am allergic to references': Mind The Malhotras star Mini Mathur on career, life, acting roles and everything in between
Mini Mathur tells about the turning point in her career and how Mind The Malhotras has spiced up her journey
Mind The Malhotras Season 2 is here just like a sparkling bottle of wine ready to add the much-needed fizz to our mundane lives over a weekend binge-watch. The family drama is known to acknowledge the elephant in the room aka modern-day social issues like midlife crises, urban relationships, parenting, therapy and much more with slice-of life comedy.
We caught up with the lead actress Mini Mathur who plays the doting, dramatic, sometimes wacky and all-time chic Mrs Shefali Malhotra. In her 40s, Shefali has a lot on her plate — from dealing with marital crises, venturing into a new career, managing a home with three kids, a husband and mother-in-law where sparks fly whenever there’s a conversation. However, all the hilarious interactions add to the entertainment.
In reality, playing many roles comes naturally to Mini who has been a snazzy VJ for MTV, host for prime-time reality show Indian Idol and actor in the OTT space now. We caught up with the lively star as she speaks her heart out on life, career and everything in between.
How was it playing Shefali Malhotra for the second season?
Shefali’s character is of a middle-aged woman trying to be together yet falling apart in life. She has a new role to play this time with her new venture — a cooking show. She is ambitious, competitive and politically unconscious. I loved playing her in the second season as well as I admire her certain qualities like her unabashedly pursuing what she wants. In a way, it felt like she was a more hyped version of me.(laughs)
The show throws light on issues like failed marriages, divorce, therapy and middle age crisis etc that are taboo. In reality, have you ever faced a mid-life crisis of sorts and how have you dealt with it?
In my head, I haven’t reached my middle age crisis yet (laughs) while in reality, I am sure it must be there! I think my midlife crisis hit me at a time that was coupled with Covid in lockdown. My coping mechanism was to dwell on good experiences and collect beautiful memories to cherish later. I feel I have reached a point where, now, I am making choices based on what I like to do rather than what I must do to lead a more fulfilling life.
As a woman, do you internalise the struggles of Shefali from the show?
Yes! I internalise it for her as you cannot play a character with conviction without understanding their inhibitions, aspirations, dilemmas, struggles and other nuances. So when I am in my role, I am constantly thinking like Shefali... like what would she do in a certain situation, how would she react, what kind of choices would she make and more. I definitely had to internalise what she was going through while raising her three kids, managing her home, career and having a mum-in-law with whom she never clicks.
From hosting, modelling to acting, you have done it all. What do you like the most and why?
What I like about the way I have played out my career is that I have enjoyed every single phase of it. I have ridden the crest of everything I have done and given more time to each endeavour be it presenting, modelling or acting. I cherish the fact that I have lasted on TV for more than 25 years and people are still not sick of me (laughs). They still want to want to see me and many times suggest what kind of role they want me to do. So as an artiste, that’s rewarding to hear. While modelling happened by chance, with acting, I had to wait for a long time to get a good show like Mind the... where I said yes to the series as the role was tailor-made for me. I had an amazing director and co-stars so it was an enjoyable experience.
What has been the most breakthrough moment in your career?
When I was a VJ with MTV, at that time, we were treated as those cool westernised kids on the block, catering to a niche segment of young viewers. But somewhere down the line, I wanted to connect with my country’s desi audience too. So I held on to my roots, that’s why I could transition from a VJ on MTV to a family reality show like Indian Idol which marked a landmark moment in my career. So doing Indian Idol was probably my turning point.
What would you like to change in the film or OTT industry as a performer?
While I am nascent in the acting arena and want to explore more, I just want to convey that women should be encouraged to explore and not typecast into certain roles. I always get roles saying inn ka reference ye hai so aap reference ko hi cast kijiye (she’s been referred for this role, so cast her in that only) which makes a performer do predictable work. I might probably be able to give another dimension to a character that the industry might not be even looking at. This is why I am allergic to references!
How do you select your scripts?
I reject more scripts than I accept (laughs). It sounds very privileged but I say no to two projects every week. I am not in a hurry, I am happy to wait and finally give my 30-40 days to a project that I look forward to working on rather than do unsatisfying work.
Mind The Malhotras Season 2 is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.