‘Bold’ has become Mahie Gill’s second name. Ever since her debut in Bollywood, she has done roles that most actors would shy away from. Her latest act is the onscreen portrayal of Maria Susairaj in Ram Gopal Varma’s Not a Love Story. She gets candid about playing this controversial character…
Mahie Gill is a well-known name in the stratum once called ‘parallel cinema’. She is of the ilk that filmmakers like Anurag Kashyap et al focus on. For the masses, she played Arbaaz Khan’s lover Nirmala in Dabangg. After a few films (Gulaal, Mirchi, Utt Pataang and Aagey Se Right) here and there, the Chandigarh born actor returns to the limelight with another controversial act. But then that’s what filmmakers like about Mahie: she doesn’t limit herself. Remember the daring liplock in her first film, Dev.D?
After a series of calls, finally, just the day before deadline, she calls to do the promised interview. Mahie is at the hospital nursing a sick friend, the reason for the delay in talking to us, but she keeps her word. From our telephonic conversations, she comes across as an easy-going, friendly and chilled-out girl.
So, what was her first reaction when she was offered Not a Love Story (NALS)? “First of all, I have really wanted to work with Ram Gopal Varma for a very long time. I am a big fan of his,” says Mahie in her deep voice accentuated with the slight twang of the north. “The moment I got a call from his office, there were no questions asked. I just wanted to meet him. He told me about this particular film. And I thought it was a very challenging role.”
Challenging it is, but surrounded by controversy. Did she not harbour any apprehensions when saying ‘yes’? The girl with a Masters degree from Punjab University immediately rejects the thought. “I am an actor. I got a good script and it was RGV.” It can be a satisfying experience for an actor, but what about her image in the public eye? Often an actor’s screen persona is what the real off-screen individual becomes for the audience, unless, of course, it is a Salman Khan or an Aamir Khan.
But Mahie is unperturbed by the constant questions regarding her controversial role. In fact, she seems prepared for brickbats. “The kind of work that I am doing, each role is very different from the other. Here was this character that I had never played before. So it was a challenge for me and, at the same time, the film is inspired by Maria’s story and not based on her life,” says Mahie.
However, playing the part was not a cakewalk for her. The Dev.D actor was aware of the troubles of a struggling actor, but “We know of the incident, but nobody in the world would ever know what happened in the flat where there were three people, one of whom died.”
“So here came the director’s interpretation. Ramu sir was very helpful. But otherwise this film was mentally very exhausting and very difficult,” says the young actor. Also, when shooting, Mahie and her cast and crew colleagues would often think about the protagonists in the film – that’s the closest they came to empathising with the real people behind the characters. “While shooting our scenes in the flat (the same building where the real life incident occurred), we would often think about how they (Maria Susairaj and Jerome Mathew) managed to chop the body into pieces, burn it and then put it into packets in such a small place,” she says, matter-of-factly.
Despite the raised eyebrows and hullabaloo surrounding Not A Love Story, Mahie is excited about the release. “My friends and family are very happy because whatever little they have seen in the promos they are finding very interesting.” And what about the kissing and bold scenes she does on screen? “Recently my mom saw the photograph from Sahib Biwi aur Gangster in a newspaper. It’s difficult for her to understand. So she told me, ‘I wish you had done your PhD and become a lecturer instead’,” she laughs. “But she likes it when people appreciate my work and tell her that. It was only this particular incident. Otherwise she is fine (with me being an actor).”