My character in 'NOTA' isn't the usual woman journo trope: Actor Mehreen to TNM

Mehreen speaks to TNM about finding work in the Telugu industry, her character in 'NOTA' and more.
My character in 'NOTA' isn't the usual woman journo trope: Actor Mehreen to TNM
My character in 'NOTA' isn't the usual woman journo trope: Actor Mehreen to TNM
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Lakshmi in Krishna Gaadi Veera Prema Gaadha, Meghana in Mahanubhavudu, and Lucky in Raja the great- Mehreen Kaur Pirzada considers herself to be lucky to have three straight hits in a row, playing three different strong women characters along with three different superstars of Tollywood. But the actor, who awaits the release of her first political bilingual thrillerNOTA on October 5, remains grounded and counts her blessing.

“I was doing a regular job in New York when I participated in a beauty pageant and won the show. So doing films was never a part of my plan and I am simply humbled with the overwhelming response my films receive,” Mehreen says.

Mehreen is thrilled at the release of her upcoming movie NOTA, where she plays the role of a scribe, along with Vijay Deverakonda.

“I play the role of a fierce journalist, who is not afraid to question even the Chief Minister. It’s an offbeat character because unlike other masala movies where the heroine awaits the arrival of a hero to be rescued, my character in the movie is very clear with what she wants and what she thinks. Even though I have lesser screen time in NOTA compared to the other films I have done, my character in the movie has certain marked traits. You cannot put her in the usual trope of ‘women journalist’ characters as the name of the movie itself says ‘None of the Above’,” Mehreen exclaims.

A still from NOTA

Having worked with the big names in the industry like Nassar, Satyaraj, Shankar, and Vijay, Mehreen says NOTA in itself was a new experience for the actor.

“In fact, my first day of shoot was with Satyraj sir and I was a little tense. I had already acted with Nassar sir in Mahanubhavudu and it was a little difficult to try and keep up to their level of performance,” Mehreen adds.

As NOTA marks her debut in the Tamil industry, Mehreen is in awe of the acting capabilities of her co-star Vijay Deverakonda, who has already carved a niche for himself in the Telugu industry.

“Vijay is a very focussed and hardworking actor. He is very new to the Tamil language, so he kept tutors and kept learning the lines by-heart and studying his lines. I have seen him putting in all the hard work for NOTA. He has put in his heart and soul for the film,” the actor says.

As NOTA hits the screens on Friday, the movie has already made headlines with petitioners wanting a ban on the release in Telangana, where the political scenario is already tense. Talking about movies and controversies, Mehreen says controversies around movies do not deserve attention and need to be taken lightly.

“Every movie is made with so much of love that no filmmaker would want their movie to be mired in allegations. Controversies are never welcomed, no matter the kind of positive or negative mileage it might give to a movie. It is something that has to be brushed aside without much ado," the actor says.

After the release of her debut film, Mehreen, like any other newcomer, hoped for a quick second film but she didn’t have it easy. Despite a long wait, the actor showed resilience.

“It’s all destiny. I waited for almost 10 months to bag my second role. After Krishna Gadi, people did have high expectations from me and I must say I am blessed to have Mahanubhavudu as the second film. And now the expectation is growing stronger with tomorrow’s release,” Mehreen says.

Mehreen and Nani in Krishna Gaadi Veera Prema Gaadha

Talking about working with male leads whose characters are known to have certain physical or mental obsessions in the film, Mehreen laughs and says that playing along with such characters was always a mere coincidence.

“Sharawanand, who grapples with severe OCD in Mahanubhavudu, is a character that many would identify with. In a way I feel happy that I could be part of people’s problems and help them come out of the problem, even through a movie,” the actor opines.

Mehreen and Sharwanand in Mahanubhavudu

Even though the actor has been lucky in grabbing characters that are as prominent as the male leads in the movie, not every woman artist in the industry is as fortunate. But Mehreen says that it’s not every time that such scripts are made where every character gets equal prominence.

“I have been lucky that directors have offered me scripts where women have a strong role. For example, during the audition of Krishna Gaadi, the director was looking for someone who could fit into the role of Lakshmi for almost 7-8 months. After he met me, he was sure that I was going to be his Mahalakshmi. Everybody wants to work with such scripts. But what I have always believed is that it’s the script that chooses you more than you choosing the script. It’s the script that chooses its actors. The universe has a greater plan than you can ever have for yourself,” Mehreen says.

Having played a prominent role in Phillauri in Bollywood along with Anushka Sharma, Mehreen says while Bollywood is comfortable in terms of the language spoken, Telugu industry has always been home. “Tollywood is where I started my career. I was very sure of doing Krishna Gaadi and I convinced myself that I belonged to Rayalseema and that I was a Telugu girl. Over the years, people have accepted me and I can say that I am 80% Telugu now,” the actor says.

For Mehreen, language has never been a barrier and she is happy to have worked in all three languages in a very early stage of her career. “All this success makes me want to work harder and entertain people. It is important that we be the right role model, not just entertain onscreen; off screen too we should do something that will inspire people to do good work,” the actor signs off.

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