The craze of your first film never fades away – Muskaan Khubchandani
Muskaan Khubchandani’s first film, George Reddy, was released in the South on November 22, 2019. On the eve of the release, Muskaan talks to IAD about her journey from a middle-class girl next door to a quintessential ‘heroin.’ Tune in as she shares her foray into the entertainment industry and the experience of shooting for her first feature film.
When was the first time you thought of becoming an actress?
I decided that I wanted to be an actress at the ripe age of seventeen. I grew up in a middle-class family in Delhi. My father is in the service industry, and my mother is a teacher. Naturally, they were taken aback by the news. They convinced me that this was a futile dream. How can a girl from my background with no connections in the industry even think about being an actress? Convinced about the unattainability of my dreams, I dropped the idea. But it always stayed at the back of my mind.
How did you find your way back to acting?
I had started pursuing my MBA from Delhi University. At that point, the goal was to get a decent marketing job. I was on a secure and comfortable career path. But somewhere at the back of my mind, I still had the keeda (bug) of the glamour world. I participated in a small-scale pageant and was given the title of Miss Delhi. People started approaching me for modeling assignments. I got a portfolio done by word of mouth, and things slowly started to unfold.
As an outsider, how did you manage to get projects without any industry connections?
A friend of mine in college was a budding photographer. He wanted to shoot my photographs. I had heard that the first requirement for a beginner is a portfolio. With this idea in mind, I converted our photo shoot into a semi-professional portfolio. I then ran a Google search for top modeling agencies and forwarded my photos to all of them. I never in a million years anticipated that it would work, but it did! I got a call from ‘Faces Modeling Agency.’ The gig was for no other than Ritu Kumar! They needed a model to showcase their summer collection to the team. It wasn’t a shoot per se, but it was something. My pictures were showed to Ritu Kumar, and she liked them. I was then called as a model for their E-commerce shoot as well. Other brands such as Biba, Sabhyata spotted me over there, and I started getting multiple modeling assignments.
Your first stint in acting was with Veere Di Wedding. That was a big project too. How did that happen?
The role in Veere Di Wedding also happened by chance. A friend out of the blue asked if I would be interested in doing a test for the part of a teenager in the movie. I did it on a whim and luckily got selected. I was thrilled to play the younger Sonam Kapoor. Even though I was getting good roles after this, I had not yet thought of acting as a career choice. My belief strengthened only after I had done my first film.
Yes, your first film George Reddy has just released. How was the experience of shooting for the film? What were some challenges you faced?
The first challenge for me was the language. I could not speak Telugu at all. It was a topic of amusement for everyone on set; they found my pronunciations humorous. Whenever everyone got bored, they would ask me to speak in Telugu. I was akin to a foreigner. (chuckles)
In terms of acting, the challenge was to play diversified roles. I have a double role in the film. The first role is set in the 60s, where I am playing a shy and timid girl named Maya. Maya hardly has any dialogues, but she has a lot of screen presence. I had to convey a host of emotions through my eyes.
The second role is of a young tomboy of contemporary times. She is a straightforward and arrogant documentary film-maker. Both the characters were poles apart. It was a challenge oscillating between two personalities. I grew immensely as an actor from this experience.
What was it like seeing yourself for the first time on the big screen?
I have already gone to the theatre four times to watch George Reddy! I can’t get enough of it (laughs). The craze of the first film will never go away. It was like everything changed on the premiere night when the movie released in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. People suddenly started recognizing me on the streets. I am overwhelmed by the love and appreciation. It was everything I had imagined and more.
What was your most special experience in this whole journey?
I have been a big fan of Madhuri Dixit since childhood. My favorite pass time was to re-enact her songs and imitate her expressions. I could not contain my happiness when I found out I had a whole song to myself in George Reddy. I am a trained Kathak dancer and have learned multiple other dance forms as well. This movie gave me the opportunity to showcase that on the big screen. Shooting for the song and seeing myself on-screen dancing like Madhuri Dixit was the most beautiful experience. It was like living a dream.
What would be your advice for aspiring actresses who also want to actualize their dreams?
The most obvious advice would be ‘don’t sit as home!’
We literally have 1000 studios in Mumbai, where auditions take place every day.
It requires a lot of courage to put yourself out there and ask, am I fit for this audition?
The casting director comes out, and points at those he thinks are suitable for a character. Actors have to go through this every day. It is not easy, but we have to persist. It only takes one audition to change your life. 🙂
– Interviewed by Prachi Shevgaonkar.