“I have to be happy with my choices as an actor” – Pranutan Bahl

Anish Mohanty

She comes from a family of great lineage. She is the great-granddaughter of Shobhnaa Samarth, grand-daughter of Natun, niece of Kajol and daughter to actors Mohnish and Ekta Bahl. Yet, Pranutan Bahl did not use her surname or connections in the industry to make inroads into the film industry. Earlier, this year she made her debut in the film ‘Notebook’. After its digital premiere, the film is all set to be telecast on television. In this exclusive interview, Pranutan talks about the tepid box-office response to her first film, auditioning for a couple of years before getting the right opportunity, the five-hour long audition she had to give for the film, what she intends to do with her law degree, favourite performance of grandmother Nutan and more.

The film got a love after its digital premiere. Now that it is about to be telecast on television, which is considered to be the medium of the masses, what are your expectations?

Definitely, I am definitely hopeful that it will reach out to more people. You rightfully said that television is the medium of the masses. It has great reach and connectivity and I wish people who did not get to see it in theatres or on digital, will finally watch it now. I am looking forward to more feedback and reviews coming my way.

Your first acting assignment was a Tropicana commercial in 2017. After that, you had to wait for a while before ‘Notebook’ came along. Was it difficult to wait for the right opportunity to come your way?

I was auditioning right from 2016. I do believe that things take a while to fall into place. Initially, you do feel a little impatient. Things will happen when they are destined to happen. I did not use the fact that I come from a film family to my advantage. Even when I went for the auditions, I never used my surname. My parents have never made any calls for me. I wanted to know if I had the talent to be in front of the camera. It is a business at the end of the day and you have to prove to people that your talent is worth putting their time and money into. I feel good about having it earned on my own. I am glad I got to make my debut with a film like ‘Notebook’.

You had to give a five-hour long audition for the film. It must have been exhausting.

Not really. It was an amazing audition as I had Mr. Nitin Kakkar (director, Notebook) guiding and encouraging me to do my best throughout the process. He would keep pushing me until I gave a reasonably good shot. I learnt so much from that audition itself.

You have studied law. Would you like to utilise the law degree at some point in your life?

I utilise it all the time (laughs). On a serious note, I do not aim to be a professional lawyer. Acting is what I love doing and I hope I can sustain myself in this career for a long time and get appreciation from the audience.

You are a soft-spoken person just like Firdaus, the character you play in the film. Was it so easy for you connect with her?

My friends and family would laugh when they discover somebody called me soft-spoken (laughs). Actors bring a lot of their qualities to the characters they play. Playing Firdaus was not easy per se. There are a lot of differences in Firdaus and me. She lost her parents very early and went through a lot of emotional trauma in her life. I had to do a lot of research about a lot of things like what the disposition of a teacher would be like.

Were you upset about the fact that the film did not do very well at the box-office?

We make films to please the audience and we hope they do well at the box-office. Our career also largely depends on the commercial success of the films we do. My father tells me that these things are not in our hands and one must just focus on doing one’s job well. I hope I have been able to live up to the legacy of my family and the kind of expectations people had from me as an actor. To be honest, it was extremely hurtful to see the film not doing too well at the box-office. But, I guess that is how life is. You have to keep moving forward. The kind of respect I have garnered as a newcomer is something I am very grateful about.

Your grandmother Nutan was a part of so many iconic films. Would you like her to reprise her role from any of those films?

I do not think I have the skill or the courage to do that. Matching up to any of the wonderful performances she has delivered would be an impossible task. Her character Kalyani from Bandini is my favourite character but I would never dare to play that role myself.

What do you plan to do next? Do you have a wishlist in place?

No, I do not have any wishlist. I just want to play parts that are integral to the film. I do not want to put myself into boxes. I have not signed anything yet. I hope something interesting comes up soon. It has to be something I connect with. At the end of the day, I have to be happy with my choices as an actor.


Notebook to have it satellite premiere on 16th November at 9:30 on &pictures. 

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