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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 23 April 2024

Young actors Pratibha Ranta, Nitanshi Goel and Sparsh Shrivastava chat about their film Laapataa Ladies

The leads of the Kiran Rao-directed satire delves into an amazing t2 chat

Priyanka Roy  Published 05.03.24, 10:25 AM
(L-R) Nitanshi Goel, Sparsh Shrivastava and Pratibha Ranta in Laapataa Ladies, playing in cinemas

(L-R) Nitanshi Goel, Sparsh Shrivastava and Pratibha Ranta in Laapataa Ladies, playing in cinemas

Having received unanimous praise for their performances in Laapataa Ladies, the leads of the Kiran Rao-directed satire — Pratibha Ranta, Nitanshi Goel and Sparsh Shrivastava — chatted with t2 about their film, co-produced by Aamir Khan, that is now playing in theatres.

Even before the film released, the three of you travelled with Kiran Rao and Aamir Khan showing Laapataa Ladies to diverse audiences across the country. What was that experience like?

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Nitanshi Goel: We watched the film for the first time with the audience at the Bhopal screening. We were sitting in the last row and waiting for their reactions. They were clapping, crying and laughing and that was so surreal. At all the screenings, the audience came up to us and told us about their favourite scenes from the film.
Pratibha Ranta: Initially, I felt that doing these screenings before release was risky because someone could just put out a post saying they didn’t like the film. Thankfully, no one did that!
Nitanshi: In fact, most people were disappointed that the film got over quickly.

What was your first reaction after bagging such a big film?

Pratibha: I am grateful for the fact that I am part of such a big banner. This is not a simple script. It has a lot of layers. And then, of course, is the fact that Aamir Khan Productions is producing it and Kiran ma’am is directing it. I was very excited.

My character Pushpa Rani was someone I always wanted to play. She speaks my life story in many ways and I was glad that I would get to talk to so many viewers through this story.
Nitanshi: For the first 15 minutes, I couldn’t believe that I had bagged the role! I had just got three scenes from the script to audition with and I was so moved by all those scenes that I wanted to be a part of this film.

I feel like I manifested this film into my life. It is a very big opportunity because we are more or less new faces. We give auditions every day and we have big dreams and this film has given us the chance to fulfil a large part of it.
Sparsh Shrivastava: Even now, I can’t process it sometimes. I don’t know when it will hit me that this is something real. Right now, I tell myself to keep working hard because such opportunities only come to a few people.

Even the way I auditioned for Laapataa Ladies is a story in itself. I didn’t have a tripod at that time, so I took out a rice box from my kitchen, put a stick in it, balanced my phone and then recorded the audition to catch the daylight. The journey of making this film is a film itself for me. The kind of guidance and atmosphere that Kiran ma’am has given us has spoilt us because I haven’t been used to working in such a good environment. Working in this film has been a great experience and I think that reflects on screen as well.

The three of you don’t share screen space till the end of the film. But the behind-the-scenes videos show that you had great fun on set. What was the highlight of making this film?

Pratibha: We are all newcomers but we never felt alienated. We come from similar backgrounds and our behaviour patterns are similar. On the first day itself, we became friends.

Sparsh and I have a story. The day we landed our parts, we crossed each other at Aamir sir’s office — I was going in and he was coming out — and both of us did a double take and looked back, thinking: ‘Okay, this is going to be my co-star.’ On the first day I met Nitanshi, I thought: ‘What a sweet baby!’ (Laughs)
Sparsh: In fact, we are now sitting on the same sofa that we sat on the day we met Aamir sir for the first time.
Pratibha: That day we were sitting on the edge of the sofa because we were waiting to meet the Aamir Khan!
Sparsh: But Kiran ma’am made us comfortable in the office and on set, she mothered us. I have not seen such a warm crew before this.
Nitanshi: I was 14 when I began shooting this film and Kiran ma’am says that I have literally grown up on the sets of Laapataa Ladies.

All of you are urban folk who had to embrace characters that belong to a rural background. What went into acing that?

Pratibha: I have been living in Mumbai for the last four years but I hail from Himachal Pradesh. And I have seen women with a veil quite a bit while growing up.
Nitanshi: The film is set in 2001 and I was born in 2007. I had never seen that world. The three of us went through a lot of training and we had to work on our body language too. We had a lot of workshops and all of us also had our processes to reach our characters.
Sparsh: Having started as a dancer, I have always been a ‘Yo, man’ kind of guy. To become Deepak, I had to break myself down completely. A lot of it came to me by observing people. I am happy that we were given the time and opportunity to do so much preparation because generally, we don’t get it on many sets. This preparation is what has made the film what it is.

The milieu may be alien, but your characters — Pushpa as the silent rebel, shy girl Phool who discovers her talents in life and Deepak as the emancipated do-gooder in an otherwise patriarchal society — seem pretty close to what each of you is like in life. Would you agree?

Pratibha: When I first got the audition scene and was told that this was my character, I was able to visualise everything because I am very rebellious. I connected to Pushpa and I told myself that I needed to tell her story.
Sparsh: Deepak shows his emotions openly. When he loves someone, Deepak will say: ‘I love you’, he cries when he wants to and he fights when he feels things are not right. I am someone who used to suppress my feelings a lot. Crying was not a concept I knew because right since childhood, we are told that boys don’t cry. I was a little bound by all that but after playing Deepak, I have opened up as a human being. I am more expressive now.
Nitanshi: I connected to Phool’s innocence. Her innocence and her goodness shine through in every scene. During most of the screenings, I got the vibe that people were scared of what would happen to Phool when she got lost. She is so innocent that no one wants anything wrong to happen to her.

I connected to her in the way she finds new and interesting people on her journey and makes them her own. She uses the skills that she was taught to be a homemaker to earn money and that opens up a whole new world to her.

Is there a piece of advice Aamir gave you that you hold close to your heart?

Sparsh: He spoke to us about how he processes his scripts. He starts memorising his lines some four months before he goes on set. Once he is in front of the camera, he plays with the variations of lines because now they are in his mind and without effort, they will come to the tip of his tongue. That is a learning that I will always keep with me and all the scripts that I will choose and work on, I think I am going to apply this advice.

Pratibha: In fact, I made sure that I learnt my lines so well that when I had to slip the dialect in, it didn’t become a mess. I knew my lines well and I had the freedom to play around with and perfect my dialect.
Nitanshi: We all know that Aamir sir is a great actor. He is also such a beautiful person. We have always seen him happy. He told us that many people say that he looks very handsome. Aamir sir said that maybe he is so happy that his personality appears magical to people. When your intention is good and you never hurt anyone, then it sits so well on your whole personality that your inner happiness shines outside.
Pratibha: Yes, sir glows a lot.
Sparsh: Sir’s eyes are very beautiful...

A man admiring another man’s eyes is very rare...

Sparsh: True. I think we should normalise that!

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