This is undeniably an exciting phase in the career of actor Rakul Preet. She has five big releases this year in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi, of which two have already hit the screens. De De Pyaar De, her last movie with Ajay Devgn and Tabu in Hindi, was well-received at the box-office after a couple of duds in Bollywood over years.
The actor is awaiting the release of Manmadhudu 2, her first Telugu movie after a gap of almost two years since Spyder in 2017. While there were rumours that the actor was on a break from doing movies in Telugu, Rakul denies it, and says that her hands were full and that she loves working across industries.
TNM caught up with Rakul Preet for a candid chat and the young actor tells us what made her choose to do the character of Avantika in Manmadhudhu 2, her foray into Bollywood, acting with Ajay Devgn and Nagarjuna and much more.
The trailer of Manmadhudu 2 reveals two sides to your character in the movie: quite demure in front of the family but a carefree woman away from their gaze. Could you tell us more about the role you are playing in the movie?
The character of Avantika is a fun, 'living one day at a time' kind of character. She is vivacious but at the same time quite mature because of her past and certain experiences that she has had. There are no two faces to Avantika and this you will understand when you watch the film. There are multiple layers to her character and most importantly, I had a blast playing the role!
What about Manmadhudu 2 made you choose the film? Itâ€™s directed by Rahul Ravindran who is just one film old and the first film by this title was a huge blockbuster...
First things first, I loved Rahulâ€™s Chi La Sow. It has never bothered me whether the director has made one film or 10 films or is a debutant. I think itâ€™s the content of the story that matters and when I heard the narration for Manmadhudhu 2, I immediately fell for it. It wouldnâ€™t be right to say that I wanted to play Avantika, but I wanted to live as Avantika. I wanted to be this woman every single day when I was shooting. It didnâ€™t take me more than a day to say yes to the film. And itâ€™s not just Avantikaâ€™s character, most of the characters in the film have that kind of depth and arcs to their roles. Itâ€™s how all these characters come together and the emotions they bring that makes the film beautiful.
You are acting in a Telugu movie (in a full length role) after a gap of two years, Spyder being the last one. There were rumours that you arenâ€™t doing any more movies in the language because Spyder didnâ€™t do well at the box-office. Did it, in any way, affect your projects in the industry?
This year I have five releases. 2018 was the only year I didnâ€™t have a release in Telugu. It takes time to shoot the films you have already signed. But nobody talks about how I have five movies lined up for release this year or at what pace I have been working to make this possible. Just because I had two releases in Hindi and one in Tamil, people make assumptions. For me, language is not a barrier and I will continue choosing movies by the script and my role.
You are known to be a fitness freak and a multi-tasker. Does the same apply to the pace at which you work for movies too?
I like to do a lot of things and try to squeeze them all in into my schedule. Thatâ€™s a part of my personality and I think that goes down somewhere in the way I choose my scripts too. Along with my films, I try doing multiple things. But never has it affected my movies because I make sure I do them all without having to compromise the time I have promised for my movies.
How was it working with Nagarjuna and Ajay Devgn, both actors very much senior to you in age and experience?
The age factor is something that the film wanted. Both of them are supposed to be much older in age and experience. They donâ€™t look like it is a different story!
However, the experience of working with them has been great. When you work with seasoned actors, it sorts of pushes you to work outside your envelope and you learn a lot from them. But having said that, both the films required a woman lead, almost 25 years younger in age, to act with the hero. Thatâ€™s the reason I have paired up with them. De De Pyaar De was well-received at the box-office and I hope Manmadhudhu 2 does well.
Do you feel like a newcomer in Bollywood? Or has your stardom in Tamil and Telugu given you a better leverage to choose films in Hindi?
My experience in the south has helped me understand the craft better and made people believe that I can pull off tougher roles as opposed to if I was an absolute newcomer. I wouldnâ€™t have got a De De if that was the case. They trusted in me and thatâ€™s the reason I got an almost full-length role along with veteran actors like Tabu and Ajay sir.
But having said that, not everyone knows about my entire body of work. So somewhere I am on a middle ground where people who watch southern cinema know that you are a big star but do not know what are the kinds of films you have done. Itâ€™s definitely not easy and you have to give them a revisit to your work. But I am prepared for that because itâ€™s normal for people to not know everything that I have done, just like how I donâ€™t know about the Marathi or Bengali industry.
Also, I donâ€™t put so much thought into work. I am here to do films and I will do them as and when I get good projects.
How is Bollywood different in the way they operate from the southern industries? Is there a sense of belonging since you get to speak in your mother tongue?
I speak Telugu much more fluently than I speak Punjabi. But does that mean I am less of a Punjabi? I have always maintained that Hyderabad is the place that gave me recognition, the city which made Rakul an actor. My house is there but Hyderabad is home to me. But at the same time, we all need to increase our boundaries and grow as an actor. So I donâ€™t think there is any sense of belonging, I just want to be part of good, credible cinema.
We have seen you in romcoms, masala entertainers, thrillersâ€¦What are the kinds of movies you are looking forward to at this stage of your career?
Avantika gave me a lot of satisfaction and from here, I want to experiment with my roles. There is a lot to play with and I think at this point, itâ€™s the satisfaction of doing a role on which I place utmost importance. I want to do a biopic, a horror fantasy or maybe again a thriller.
What are your upcoming projects?
I have just finished my shooting for Marjawaan in Hindi along with Siddharth Malhotra. In Tamil, I have Indian 2 and in Telugu, I am doing a film with Nithiin where I am playing a criminal lawyer. I have signed another film in Hindi which I will be announcing soon.