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Haye ni meri Mandy

Mandy Takhar is done chasing producers for her money or asking them to make films on particular subjects. So, she turns producer with Kikli, which she co-directs too

Haye ni meri Mandy


Nonika Singh

Lovely actress Mandy Takhar never fails to surprise. If for her upcoming film Haye Ni Meri Moto she dared to put on 45 kg, with Kikli she turned producer and co-director. Unfiltered and unpretentious, the actress known for films like Sardarji and Rabb Da Radio, the Sahiba of Mirza—The Untold Story speaks from the heart.

Take her rationale for turning producer. She says, “In the industry for 10 years I am done chasing producers for my money, asking them to make films on a particular subject. Besides, it’s a lot more respectful if you are heading a project.” Of course, taking the reins in one’s hands is not easy and she has learnt the all-important lesson of patience. But if you think a producer’s job, which has given her creative freedom is thankless, she counters, “Even an actors’ job is not easy … beyond fans chasing you, beyond the brighter side of fame, the behind the scenes is a different story.”

As for Pollywood being largely male-centric, she thinks there has been a perceptible change in the last few years. Now, films with strong female characters are being made. But whether they get the appreciation they deserve is a different matter. She adds, “It is the same story in every film industry. Heroines’ pay cheque is far less compared to our male counterparts.”

Hmm… but when a woman is at the helm we do expect a strong woman’s subject. Only Kikli, which apart from her also stars the rising star Wamiqa Gabbi is a love triangle. Her reasons for casting Wamiqa, ‘a fabulous actor’ are personal. Having known Wamiqa since she was 17-18, she counts her and few others like Ammy Virk as dear friends. But Wamiqa’s success in particular ‘feels personal’. Actually so is of other Punjabis who have made the switch from regional cinema to Bollywood and made a mark. Growing up in the UK, what triggered her interest in Punjabi cinema? She states. “Punjabis in the UK are more Punjabi than the ones in Punjab. Parents are concerned and worry that their children do not end up becoming poore angrez and we become full-on Punjabis. I can read and write Punjabi. Early on, it was ingrained in me that I want to make my state proud.”

Precisely, why she would like to break the template, give new talent a chance in her production house. Since, she feels that our Punjabi industry is rather small which ‘has more singer-actors than actor-actors’, she cast Jobanpreet Singh in Kikli with whom she has earlier worked in Saak. Even at the risk of sounding politically correct, she is all praise for her co-actors and has learnt a lesson from each one of them — discipline from Diljit Dosanjh, touching innocence from late Sidhu Moosewala. She muses, “Each one has their own charm.”

Punjabi cinema may not have the same reach today as Punjabi music. But she insists, “In the last five years, there has been a huge, if not a seismic shift.” Indeed. Even today whether Hindi film audiences or South Indians watch Punjabi films is a big question. But makers and actors are experimenting for sure. Take Haye Ni Meri Moto, which busts more than one stereotype about body shaming. She observes, “Body shaming has become so rampant. It’s like the new hello. People will greet you with — ‘oh you have put on weight or you have lost too much weight’. Gaining 45 kg for a film is no joke and she will not advise for or against it. But she opted for the weight gain as ‘both prosthetics and body suits looked fake’. Haye Ni Meri Moto, she asserts, “deals with several issues, including our obsession with fair complexion.”

On June 21, a supernatural romcom Mr Shudai starring her is set to hit the silver screens. True, comedy still remains the ultimate choice of Punjabi filmmakers and invariably viewers too. But she adds, “If audiences encourage us, Punjabi cinema would be tackling brave new subjects.” At least she is determined to and five years from now would like Mandy Takhar

Studios to be known for entertaining and message-driven cinema.

Talking point

  • What I say to trolls/haters — make room for love in your hearts.
  • To aspiring actors my advice is — develop a thick skin and have a strong heart. Your failures as an actor become public.
  • On my wish-list — working with Jimmy Sheirgill who I think is one of the finest actors in Pollywood/ Bollywood.
  • Punjabi filmmakers’ fascination for shooting in foreign locales stems from the fact that Punjabi diaspora finds these films relatable.
  • I have been most influenced by my first film Ekam and Ardaas, both of which dealt with serious concerns.
  • Senseless comedy is not my cup of tea.
  • Marriage has given me more confidence. Today, I am not alone to deal with challenges, but have a friend in my husband (Shekhar Kaushal).

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