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When I think of Vijay sir, the word ‘dhairyam’ comes to mind: Malavika Mohanan on ‘Master’

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The actor talks about being part of the big-budget action-thriller directed by Lokesh Kanagaraj, that is expected to revive theatres in 2021

She’s part of the first big-budget theatrical release in the country after the pandemic, as all eyes are on Master’s release for Pongal. Malavika Mohanan is shuttling between Mumbai and Chennai, promoting both the Hindi and Tamil releases of the film, as she awaits what could be the biggest turning point in her career. Excerpts from a quick chat:

How did the ‘Master’ team decide upon a Pongal release?

We initially thought that the delay would only be for a few weeks, but as time went on, the realisation dawned upon us that the pandemic isn’t ending anytime soon. I think the team really wanted a festival release. After Diwali came and went last year, we set sights on Pongal 2021. I still remember getting the call from Jagdish, who is the co-producer, telling me that January will finally see Master hit screens —and I was super excited and relieved.

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Where will you be watching the film?

I visited Chennai earlier this week for the launch of Dhanush’s D43 directed by Karthick Naren, and then returned to Mumbai to continue the Hindi promotions of Master. (In Bollywood, the film is titled Vijay The Master). But I’ll be in Chennai for Pongal to catch a FDFS show. It’s a Thalapathy festival release, theatres are open after months, and I’m part of the film — all good enough reasons!

‘Master’ is as big a multi-starrer as they come. Were you concerned about your screen time?

I had absolutely no insecurities about being part of a multi-starrer. In fact, Petta had both Simran and Trisha in it, but I accepted the role because I found those two scenes in the script through which I could make an impact.

 

Similarly, in Master, I believe that my character’s place in the film is justified. And working with so many young actors like Shanthnu and Gouri was so much fun; we all got along immensely like a house on fire.

What is your takeaway from working with someone like Vijay?

I think every star has their signature style of acting. For example, I observed from Mohanlal sir how he’d be joking around on set, and the moment the camera switched on, he could pull off an intense crying scene in the blink of an eye.

Vijay and Malavika Mohanan in a still from ‘Master’

Vijay and Malavika Mohanan in a still from ‘Master’
 

With Vijay sir, it was all about being in awe of his methods of preparation. His discipline was mind-boggling. You know, we watch stars like him perform on-screen and wonder how they make it look so easy, but the truth is that there’s so much of thought and research behind their acting. I’ve seen him pore over pages of dialogue and monologues, and come and deliver it in a single take the very first time. Besides all the stardom, it was very inspiring to work with Vijay sir as a professional. I really aspire to have his level of commitment to the job.

How did you guys deal with the frustration of the film being continually postponed?

I think having someone like Vijay sir on board really reassured all of us. You know, one of my favourite words in Malayalam is ‘dhairyam’. That’s what comes to mind when I think of him. Apart from being incredibly positive throughout the shooting of the film, he really kept our spirits up during the pandemic. If at all he had any critique, it was always constructive and he was always pushing everyone to be better versions of themselves.

How’s the rest of the year shaping up for you?

In 2021, I start work on D43 and my next Bollywood film as well. Because of the pandemic, the announcement on the latter has been held back. Of course, I’m looking forward to signing more films going forward. Now, finally, with the vaccines being distributed to everyone, I hope that the end of the pandemic is in sight sometime in the near future.

When I think of Vijay sir, the word ‘dhairyam’ comes to mind: Malavika Mohanan on ‘Master’

The hype around Master even up north and in Bollywood has been crazy. I’m getting so many more offers from different industries, thanks to it.

Final thoughts before the film’s release?

Directors, producers and distributors across the country are looking at Master to provide a blueprint of what to do next, and will take calls on their films accordingly. It’s not just the first Tamil big-budget flick to release post the pandemic, but it’s also the first Indian film nationally to do so.

What the audience sometimes don’t remember is that a producer is continually paying interest after the making of a film, and cannot hold it from release for too long. The business of so many completed projects has been affected last year, and they are all lying in wait, to check how Master fares. Everyone’s rooting for it!

Master releases nationally in theatres on Wednesday, January 13

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