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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 25 June 2024

Pratibha Ranta on acting in Laapataa Ladies: 'Childhood wish has come true'

Directed by Kiran Rao, the movie released in theatres on March 1

PTI New Delhi Published 14.03.24, 10:21 AM
Pratibha Ranta

Pratibha Ranta Instagram

For as long as she remembers, Pratibha Ranta, one of the two leads in Kiran Rao's critically-acclaimed "Laapataa Ladies", says she was surrounded by movies, dancing to Bollywood songs and nurturing a dream to become an actor.

The childhood wish has come true for the Shimla-born actor, who remembers going through movie marathons with her father, pretending to be Rati Agnihotri and dancing to "Na Tune Signal Dekha, Na Maine Signal Dekha" from "Coolie" while her father matched steps with his daughter.

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"I always wanted to be an actor. I was dreaming about it when I was little but people would not get me. In Mumbai, it is normal to see people around you going for a shoot, but there is nothing like this in Shimla, so they could not relate to. My family was worried and reluctant to send me to Mumbai but I was adamant about taking the chance," Ranta told PTI in an interview.

In "Laapataa Ladies", Rao's comeback to direction and a film produced by Aamir Khan, Ranta play Jaya, one of the two brides who gets mistakenly swapped during the long journey to her new home. She harbours the dream to become a successful farmer but she is married off. When she lands up in a different home, she take matters in her own hands to change her fate.

Ranta said she could easily identify with Jaya's aspirations because she also dreamt of something that felt distant.

"My family was sceptical and scared but they also understood my passion for it. I remember telling them, 'Give me a year and if I am not able to make it, then I will come back and do whatever you guys want me to'. "When I came to Mumbai, I got admission in a college but would spend days participating in auditions. I managed to crack the show 'Qurbaan Hua' and became financially independent. It calmed my family a bit and helped me gain confidence." Ranta said she started auditioning for movies when she realised that she was not growing in the world of television, and to her surprise she was selected for 'Laapataa Ladies'.

"I was like , 'Arey waah! Yeh kya ho gaya.' Then I was told that I had to meet Aamir sir and perform in front of him. I struggled a bit because I am a huge fan. "Aamir sir liked my performance but he didn't say yes or no. But while exiting the room, I felt that maybe this is one of the best days of my life because I was very honest. I was like 'I will see what happens next.' I got a call that I had been selected as soon as I reached home. I didn't even know how to react," said the 23-year-old.

The reactions to the film, which has been hailed for telling a progressive story in an entertaining manner, have been heartwarming and Ranta, while feeling overwhelmed with all the love coming her way, is happy to have made her family and her father, a movie buff, proud.

Ranta, who did her schooling from Convent of Jesus & Mary School, the same school that actor Preity Zinta also attended, remembers being teased in school for her acting aspirations.

"It is ironic that Preity Zinta is from my hometown and studied from the same school. Everyone would call me Preity Zinta or I would get teased with lines like, 'Dekho, heroine aa rahi hai' and 'Preity Zinta'. I was like 'Ab to main Preity Zinta ban ke rahungi'." Ranta said while she was in Shimla and spoke about her acting aspirations, she would often be told, 'Nobody is waiting for you there'.

"You are told not to dream big. There is also a dialogue in the film that says, 'There is no apology for dreaming.' It, somehow, resonates a lot with my life because I have also been very unapologetic about dreaming big, without ever thinking whether they will come true or not. So, I say this to everyone, 'Please dream'.

"I know that there is a parallel reality in Mumbai and I understand that people are averse to sending girls away in a different city. Women don't find any support when they want to explore but there are so many opportunities, nobody should be forced to kill their dreams." Praising her director, Ranta said Rao kept the shoot going through the difficult time of the pandemic and always knew when things were not working.

"She is a very strong woman. She already had the vision and graph of each character in her mind. I think I got to tap many emotions in this film. The film has changed me as a person and actor. There is a major shift in perspective towards my craft now." Aamir, she said, taught her to seek magic instead of perfection while performing in front of the camera, a lesson that she hopes to carry forward in future roles.

"I had a great start in movies and I am grateful. I hope that I keep getting good opportunities and making choices that reflect that. I know there are friends of mine who are still struggling to get their break. There is a sense of responsibility now that the universe has given me a chance," she said.

The film also stars Ravi Kishan, Nitanshi Goel, Sparsh Shrivastav, Chhaya Kadam and Durgesh Kumar.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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