Canter queen

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By Koel Mallick trots away on the maidan as she saddles up to play a warrior queen Kushali Nag Should Koel focus more on films like Arundhati now? Tell t2@abp.in
  • Published 7.11.13
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Late to bed and early to rise — that’s been Koel Mallick’s schedule since she started training for horse riding on the Maidan! It’s part of her homework for Arundhati (produced jointly by Shree Venkatesh Films and Surinder Films), a period piece revolving around a warrior queen. A t2 chat with Koel...

Horse riding, sword fighting... being Arundhati must be exhausting….

Yes, I am pushing the envelope and it’s also a self-discovery. I am getting to know that I am capable of so much! Till the time you don’t experiment or take risks, you don’t know to what level you can go. When I was doing Rangbaaz and people were talking about the daring stunts, I asked myself, would I be able to do it? So I did whatever little I could... and now Arundhati. There are several new things that I am going to learn for this film, but because I had seven stitches for Rangbaaz [she had injured her leg during a stunt], I am very confident now!

You’ve already started training in horse riding. Excited, nervous?

Not at all nervous. In fact I was very, very excited. I am getting to learn something new. The only grudge is that I have to wake up at 5.30am and go to the Maidan for practice. But once I am with the horse I am really excited. My trainer Vikram Rathore is helping me. His first tip was to bond emotionally with Preetilekha!

Who’s Preetilekha?

The horse I am training with! (Laughs) She is quite nice, gentle and charming! Preetilekha and I have bonded emotionally. I fed her carrots and kept patting her back. I am told there are three steps to horse riding — trotting, cantering and galloping. Plus, there are different ways to signal the horse while you are riding. I am picking up slowly.

Will Preetilekha accompany you to the Bolpur shoot of Arundhati?

No, I don’t think so. I wish she could be taken. But at least I hope I will learn the nitty-gritty of horse riding by the time we start shooting. I was warned of a backache after riding the horse for two days and I do have a body ache. You have to keep a lot of things in mind while riding, from how you should hold the reins…. Basically, it’s very technical. And I have never ever shot with a horse, not even for a song sequence…

There’s going to be sword fight too. Is it going to be something like what Aishwarya Rai Bachchan did in Jodhaa Akhbar?

(Laughs) Not really like Jodhaa Akbar. I am told I have to pick up Kalaripayattu, the south Indian sword fight. But that will come later.

Tell us more about Arundhati….

Arundhati is a warrior queen of the 19th century, someone who cannot go wrong. She is very powerful, dignified and graceful. But Arundhati is also a reincarnation story. In her next life she is born as Mishti. Arundhati is actually Shrikant’s (Mohta, producer) dream project. He told me about it a year back. But you know, playing these larger-than-life characters isn’t easy, specially because I have never done it. I needed to first believe in the subject. I believe in reincarnation and life after death. After saying yes, I had to really work very hard on getting Arundhati’s body language right.

Will it be more of these kinds of roles from now than the bubbly-chirpy girl you used to play?

(Smiles) It depends on my audience and directors.

But what do you want?

See, as an actress I want to be loved by the masses. But as an artiste, I want to try new roles and be a new personality in my films. So it will be a balance of both.

Pick two other films of yours which have been as exhausting as Arundhati...

High Way (unreleased), of course. I played somebody who’s completely opposite to what I am. The dialogues were very different and difficult. I had to be very subtle. And Rangbaaz, not only because of the stunts but also because the character was new for me. I played a snob!