Actress Mahima Makwana made her big Bollywood debut today with ‘Antim’ opposite actor Aayush Sharma and co-starring superstar Salman Khan. The film has been getting some mixed reviews. Talking to Outlook, Makwana speaks up about how she got a Salman Khan starrer film, how she felt when her Bollywood debut got delayed due to the pandemic and her memory of first meeting Salman Khan. Excerpts from the candid conversation:
How did a film starring Salman Khan land on your plate?
People think that it has somehow landed on my plate but that is not the case. I recall being called for an audition for the film. I auditioned for it; Mahesh sir believed in me, Salman sir saw potential in me and I think they saw the character in me. I feel the audition process really helped me get the part. It is not like somebody knocked at my door and just gave me the part. I think the character fits me which is why I somehow got the role and got a chance to be a part of the project.
When you were selected did you know that Salman Khan is going to be a part of the film?
I came to know about it later on. I got to know about it when I started shooting for the film and I was completely baffled. The character that I am playing is an equally prominent character and the movie being directed by Mahesh sir was in itself a big deal. The part that Salman sir is playing is so not his kind of a part. However, Salman sir has broken or at least tried to break that image of himself. We do not see him as the ‘macho’ or a person with a swag personality like he has always been. In this movie, we see him as a serious cop, who cannot tolerate any sort of nonsense who has similar experiences when compared to Rahul. They are like the opposite sides of the same coin, so both of them have similarities and different approaches at the same time. He is shown as a frustrated cop because he is unable to do what he wants to do because his hands are somehow tied up.
Were you getting impatient that the film was ready but still the release was delayed due to the pandemic?
All this while when I started my journey as an actor, it was my childhood dream to make it to the big screen and now I have finally managed to shoot for a movie and I also couldn’t take up any other project because of this movie because I did not want to give people any choices as I wanted the people to witness my work on the big screen. However, when the film got delayed due to the pandemic even though we cannot blame anyone for it. We were supposed to have an OTT release of the film just two months back but then it was decided that the movie would have a theatrical release, it was such a relief for us because it is a theatrical film; it has that cinematic feel to it and it was high time the theatres open and we get to witness the magic of the big screen.
How difficult is it shooting in the new normal?
I actually started shooting in the midst of the first lockdown for the last television show that I was doing. So at first, I was scared because no one wants to take the virus back home. Everybody on the crew used to be with masks, face shields but the actors had to stay without a mask on. That was actually a very scary place to be in but I think as the vaccines were introduced and as people started to get more aware about these things, things eventually got a bit easier. By the end of the television show for which I was shooting there wasn’t much fear left because the sanitization and the necessary precautions were being taken properly. Some of them had already had the first dose of the vaccine and the actors were not even allowed to go out of the sets during the shooting hours. So, there wasn’t much to worry about.
Did you get to do any action scenes?
I didn’t get to do action scenes at all because I think we had Salman sir and Ayush to do enough action scenes. I got to have a voice, I got an opportunity to play a character who is equally important. The equality of importance has nothing to do with the screen space. My character is an integral character of the story. The fact that my character was so liberal and so empowering was something that I got my head to crack on.
How different is it shooting for a film than it is for a TV show?
There wasn’t much difference for me because I look at my characters as similar to how I used to look at my characters back in the television shows. Obviously, there are a few things that have changed, for instance, the working pattern, working hours, working style and so on. The scale also goes really up the hill. I feel for every project be it a film or a television show you have to prepare yourself according to the director's process. With Mahesh sir heading the project, he wanted me to be honest with the character and just be myself at the same time. He let us be the way we wanted to be. So, I think to get some sort of freedom or to get some sort of space to perform was something that I had not expected from him because he is such a great director. He let us be because of the actor that he is because he wanted us to do our own thing. He was always there to correct us when something went wrong but he did not restrict us as actors at all and I think that was the best part of him because he doesn’t really prepare you but he moulds you. He doesn’t like to push his actors in a box or over-prepare his actors somewhere or the other the performance might get mechanical. So, he likes his actors to breathe and he corrects and always has their back.
Have you been following the current season of 'Big Boss'?
Not at all. I am not really a person who dedicatedly follows 'Big Boss'. This year, I know a lot of contestants but I haven’t been able to follow it because I am not a 'Big Boss' person.
What is your first memory of meeting Salman Khan?
I remember meeting him a year and a half ago on the sets of 'Big Boss' when I had gone there to promote my television show ‘Subharambh’. We had a very brief interaction and I remember getting intimidated by the fact that I was going to meet Salman sir. I literally did not know how am I going to react in front of him. He is a superstar so it is obvious that I was nervous and also very conscious. But after I went to the sets we had a beautiful interaction. He encouraged both of us; I mean me and my co-star. It was a lovely interaction that we had, and a year later I end up on his film set. It was really a moment of disbelief for me. He notices people and the fact that I got noticed by him because of a television show is something that I will treasure for life.
Now that you are in films, would you be okay to go back to doing television?
I have not actually thought about this yet. Right now, I am just enjoying this whole process of interviews, promotion and so on. I am just waiting for everybody to witness the work that I have done and the universe that I have been a part of. Let’s see how things unfold in future. I don’t want to restrict myself by already making a decision whether I want to get back to doing television serials or not. I am open to exciting stories, I am open to working with fantastic people and I want to have a great body of work. It doesn’t concern the medium that I work for.
What after this can we see you in?
I have something that I have been working on and maybe I can divulge into it once the time is right.