Patralekhaa is making her debut in In Hansal Mehta's CityLights. She is paired opposite Rajkummar Rao, who she is dating. She plays a a small town woman Rakhi who comes from Rajasthan to Mumbai with her husband Deepak and ends up working in a dance bar. Watching that scene of her transformation was so difficult, I wonder how she performed it! She admits that the role took a toll on her...
In a candid chat Patralekhaa talks about the competition, fear of being typecast after CityLights and her boyfriend.
Must have been difficult to play such a depressing role..
It was very emotionally draining! Hansal sir had taken us to Rajasthan for three weeks to get used to the language and see how the locals live. Before that we did a lot rehearsals where he created the kind of ambience and setting the role required. It was an organic process, where I actually got to live the life of Rakhi. We shot the film in a linear way, so the first scene was shot on the first day and we progressed our shooting as per the script. There were times when I was very depressed and sad because this character had such a heart breaking story to tell. I used to spend nights having dreams of Rakhi and wake up crying. It did take a toll on me, and I kept asking myself why did she have to go through all this? But on the bright side Hansal sir pampered us a lot and we got to eat some amazing food on the sets. In between breaks and shoots we all would bond as a unit and have as much fun as possible. But once the camera started rolling we had to go back to being Rakhi and Deepak.
Was there a scene that you found particularly difficult?
Every one assumes it is the scene where Deepak comes home drunk and we have an argument. But for me, it is the scene where I come home with my daughter and he tells me about this box that he's kept in the house. The moment he revealed this information, I reacted differently than what I had presumed. That moment was difficult.
What's the reaction from the industry been like?
It is extremely heartening to see everyone come out and support the film. I am not a filmy girl, I have no friends in the industry so when Alia (Bhatt) came and gave me a big hug and started crying after watching the film it felt incredible. I got a lot of similar reactions from others who have watched CityLights. They come out, hug me and start crying. They feel for Rakhi and her pain. That's a huge reward as an actor. Also Bhatt saab keeps telling me inspiring stories and constantly motivating me. I am unaware of the buzz surrounding me, but I am thrilled that my debut film is getting me such attention. Siddharth (Roy Kapur) sir and Vidya also congratulated me and that meant a lot to me.
Is it difficult to act with someone you are involved with?
Not really.. There are no similarities between the characters we played and our real lives. We are an urban couple and would react differently to the situations they go through in the film. But yes, a lot of people want us to act together again and that's something we are extremely particular about. I don't want to do another film with him unless I am convinced that the script and the director are really good. Just because we are in a relationship doesn't mean that we need to do films together.
Did you visit any dance bars to prepare for your role?
No, I didn't really have the time to go study the way these girls perform. But I got a lot of information from some actors from the cast and crew and also Hansal sir who told me about the way these girls dress up, do their make up and perform. I had to get under the skin of this character and feel like I was one of them.
Are you afraid of getting typecast?
Yes, I don't want to get typecast. I am open to all kinds of films. I would love to run around trees and romance the hero. I have no qualms about doing bold films and roles. In fact the other day someone asked me about Bhatt saab making these erotic thrillers and I said am a huge fan of the Murder franchise and love all the three films. So if I have to do an erotic thriller then so be it! As long as the script is good and I am convinced the director can do justice to it, I am open for every genre and type of film.
What about wearing a bikini ?
Why not? We wear bikinis in real life, so what's the harm in wearing them on screen. But I don't want to compete with Deepika Padukone! I need to have a body that can carry off a bikini at that moment. As I said earlier, kissing on screen, or doing bold scenes is secondary to me, the script is what matters. I have got such an amazing film as my debut so I don't want to mess up with the choices I make in the future.
How do you deal with the sudden attention on your relationship with RajKummar?
I think it's cool. But we are in no rush to marry. I am 24 and he's just 29, there's a lot of good work that we both want to do. So marriage can definitely wait!