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"Bollywood is a competitive world, uneasy for new actors" - Mrinalini Sharma

Mrinalini Sharma
Mrinalini Sharma. The name rings a bell??? Does Awarapan ring a bell??? Yea you got it! She is back... and back for good to play the game Hide & Seek. This Apoorva Lakhia produced and Shawn Arranha directed film has got her back in action. Oh! But I forgot to mention how good this babe is at her game. I mean, she decided to play one on me too. Don't we say, ''It's difficult to trace a celebrity for an interview?'' Sharma did just that. After sending her ten text messages over a period of one month, I finally managed to find her...and where? At the J.W. Mariott's bar area where I am awaiting her arrival. I was busy reading the newspaper kept on the serving desk...You know...trying to catch up on the current stories. Now you've also heard that how spooky these thriller movies can get sometimes. So as I flip the pages, I don't know why, but I turned behind to see if my lady for the day had arrived. And there she was in her black sun glasses, denims, her black top, looking right into my eyes and saying, ''Are you Devansh Patel?'' Since how long was she standing behind me? I don't know...and never bothered to ask too. Events like these scare the sh** out of you sometimes. The game was interesting and so was the player. Or was it a game? Who knows! UK's Harrow Observer columnist and Bollywood Hungama's London correspondent Devansh Patel gets talking to the come back girl, Mrinalini Sharma over a...nothing. We didn't order anything. There was no tea, no coffee, nothing! Or was there anything....who knows! The game just got a bit spookier.

When was the first time you can recall playing the game of Hide & Seek?
Wow! It had to be when I was a child. We used to play the game in birthday parties and around the house when my cousins would come and visit me. Dark room was also very popular back then.

Purab once commented that you were a man amongst the men in Aawarapan. Now in this film, you've got company
I'm going to take Purab's case (laughs). Thankfully, I've got company in the form of Amruta Patki.

But do you like men around you?
It entirely depends on the scenario in which you're working. So far, I've really loved working with men who eventually became my very good friends. We were on location outside India for more than a month while we were filming Aawarapan and not for once I felt left out. In Hide & Seek too, I was well aware about many of them. I know Sameer since quite a while now, known Arjan socially, I've worked with Purab in Aawarapan, and I've worked with Amruta during my modelling days. That leaves Aayaz, and we share the same kick boxing instructor.

A long sabbatical after Aawarapan. Are you superstitious Mrinalini?
To some extent. I'm not being superstitious in terms of taking up or not taking up films. I'm just superstitious in not talking about my films till they are done.

And what about your survival in Bollywood?
Bollywood is a very competitive world. It's not easy for new actors. You have to be savvy, street-smart and you have to know your industry. Sometimes there is no shame in saying that I need to sit back and learn it. I'm extremely grateful to Shawn and Apoorva who've given me a good film after Aawarapan. Yes, there is a tomorrow, there is a future and I'm sure to survive here. There is a future for actresses like me.

How well do you know this industry?
I've learnt it step by step and still learning. I don't know the film makers and whom to call up. I've got many friends in the modelling industry but none from Bollywood. I didn't even know whom to approach and talk to. So it's been a process of learning the people, learning the ropes, learning how to present yourself and pitch yourself for any film. It's fun and great and very healthy.

You wish you were a star daughter.
In this city alone, there are people who aspire to become actors. Thousands go back empty handed. It's a world which seems glamorous to people but they don't realise the hardships behind it. It looks sparkling and that's why the common man wants to grab it and make it big here. There is a little something called possibility. It's very hard to say no to people's aspirations. With those who have parents from the film industry and have tremendous contacts, yes, there used to be endless possibilities. But not now. With the newer set of film makers coming in, it's come down more to credibility, auditions or prior work done.

Would you spend two hours inside a locked shopping mall in the middle of a night?
Not at all. I'm scared of darkness, shadows and horror flicks. I have this very over active imagination that comes into play by the time I'm sleeping and dreaming.

How well did Ahmedabad receive you?
So far we've only heard about Gujarat as a state but the cities were not explored too much in detail probably because we don't shoot any films there. But Ahmedabad is so cosmopolitan. The time I got out from the airport till the time I was being escorted to the sets, I was shocked to see the clean roads, big roads, big malls, etc. The people are insanely hospitable. We had food coming by the kilos on the sets. We had lots of foodies (laughs). It was amazing. Everyone was warm and supremely nice. Today I really miss the city.

What have you still not learnt from the time you've spent in the industry?
Nice question. I'm still trying to learn the art of laughing in front of the camera (laughs). I've cried my guts out in Aawarapan and now in Hide & Seek too I'm quite serious and shocked. I want to be the happy person in front of the camera.

Would you like to work with Apoorva Lakhia the director?
Why not? Yes. But with all due respects, let's also give credit to this wonderful new talent Shawn Arranha too. He was someone I had never met in any social gatherings too. But what instigated me to do this film was his narration, his ideology and his conviction in the film he was planning to make. Then followed my character. Yes, it is an Apoorva Lakhia film as a producer. He too is happy about his first maiden production venture.

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