With a twinkle in her eye, Pranutan reveals that she is a huge fan of 'Andaz Apna Apna', so much so that she has it recorded and watches it in every three days. As a kid, the actress recalls breaking into a dance everytime 'Tu Cheez Badi Hai Mast Mast' played on TV. In a nutshell, the pretty, exuberant actress is all things filmy.
Pranutan made her Bollywood debut with Nitin Kakkar's Notebook which released in March this year and left a lasting impression with her simplicity and sincere act as Firdaus in this tale of old-school romance.
After the theatrical release, Notebook is now all set to premiere on Amazon Prime on May 25, 2019. But before that in an exclusive tête-à-tête with Filmibeat, Pranutan Bahl opens up about how her life has changed post her debut 'Notebook', dealing with trolls and negativity and the biggest myth about the film industry.
Excerpts from the free-wheel chat.
'Notebook Is Something Which Is Going To Stay In My Heart Forever'
Q. During times when you have films made on an ambitious scale, you chose to make your debut with Notebook which was a sweet, simple story minus any frills. Despite all the praises pouring in the performances, the film didn't rake in enough moolah as expected when it hit the theatres. Did you introspect about what went wrong?
A. I revisit the film every day. There's not a day that has gone by where I don't think about it or feel nostalgic about it. It's something which is going to stay in my heart forever. Obviously, you do tend to introspect but you have to bounce back. You have to realise that you did everything that you could do in your steer.
A lot of my seniors have always told me that it's not in your hands and you need to understand first that these things happen. Your biggest takeaway is that you were appreciated and liked by not just the critics but the audience as well. So I think that's where you find your strength, get back and up your game. That's the only thing you should do.
Q. So, what's your head space like right now?
A. Right now, I am getting back to my dance. I have started dancing, my gymming and my diet which had gone all haywire because of film promotions.
Q. Actors tend to lose focus and perspective when things go wrong. You on the other, have kept your calm and look all focused. That's quite positive of you.
A. Thank you. I hope I have. I think that's the only way out. When you get grumpy, you just mess your own head. So, there's no point in behaving that way.
'I Don't Get Bogged Down By The Negatives'
Q. Do you keep a tab on the work which your contemporaries in the industry are taking up? Because that in a way could build up a pressure especially in times where one needs to be in spotlight to stay relevant?
A. I don't keep a tab I would say. But, it's always out in the news. So, everyone gets to know. It's not like I am particularly going and finding out from my team that who's doing what. When it's on Instagram, the world knows and that's when even I get to know.
Q. You are known to be quite active on the social platform Instagram.
A. (laughs) I love Instagram. It's not that I am obsessed with social media, but that's the only one app which I really use a lot. It allows you to be interactive with your fans and I think that's something what I love about it.
Q. But along with all the good things, social media also brings its share of negativity and trolling. How do you deal with these things?
A. I don't think they deserve attention because it's somebody behind the anonymity of a laptop screen. If I keep bothering what every person thinks about me then I shouldn't become an actor. If you are an actor, you are going to be subjected to judgement and opinion and it's fine. If you want to throw negativity, it shows what you are and not what I am.
Also, nothing deters me. I am a very strong in that sense. I don't get bogged down by negatives and ecstatic with the positive comments. Instead, I am like fine, now let's move ahead because a lot of work needs to be done. I don't want to pay attention to the good or the bad.
'I Am Going To Work On Myself As Much As I Can'
Q. How important do you believe social media is today in an actor's life?
A. Again it's each to their own. I think people want to know what the younger crop of actors are up to and it's also like how much you put out there. I am very active on social media while some people are not. Some put one post a week. It's just how much you give.
I also feel that sometimes it becomes very necessary because you have a lot of misconceptions roaming around. With social media, you can just put it out there and have your own portal to say something.
You have the power of the keyboard and you can say whatever you want, which I believe is important. It's also how much you let it affect you.
Q. When you come from a lineage of great actors like Nutanji, comparisons are bound to happen. How do you view this?
A. Of course, it's going to happen. whether we talk about it or not. The thought might cross your mind at least once. It's right there. But, I don't take it as a pressure. Instead, I think of it as a beautiful responsibility on my shoulders and I want to make my family proud.
I am going to up my craft. I am going to work on myself as much as I can. I really wanted to be an actor. So for me, my dreams and goals were very big to be bogged down by pressure of comparisons. Just because my family is into movies doesn't mean I should be discouraged.
'At The End Of The Day, I Believe You Carve Your Own Journey'
Q. But Pranutan, there does exist a perception about star kids in people's minds.
A. I have never in my life told my friends, my father or my aunt or anyone to call up on my behalf to get me work. I used to go for auditions in casting offices for three years. I was visiting every casting office, standing in the queue with my placard. So, I have not taken the route of so-called privilege or access.
At the end of the day, I believe you carve your own journey. This is what I wanted for myself and I must say, I am lucky that I got this kind of a debut. I don't think it has been easy for me because I have not called up anybody.
At the same time, I don't want to glorify this because everyone who wants to be an actor should go there to casting offices.
Q. These days, there's so much of spotlight on star kids and kids belonging to film families. In fact, even before their debut, some of them are already a sensation and enjoy a huge fan-following.
On the other hand, everyone heard about you for the first time when you were about to make your debut. How did you manage to keep yourself so low-profile?
A. I think it has got to do a lot with the fact that I live in South Mumbai. So, I am hardly at film gatherings or stuff like that. Also, my whole friend circle consists of lawyers as I too am one. I studied law for five years. Generally, I am very low-profile. You won't see me socializing much. (laughs)
Having said that, let me tell you that I am not at all an introvert. I am more like, 'okay, let's just sit at home, grab a pizza, watch a movie, go for a drive.'
Also, if my friends are throwing up a party then I would be more than happy to go. It's just that I don't know too many film folks because my upbringing has been in the South Mumbai arena. You hardly have any actors living there. However now, I have started meeting people from industry.
'My Father Always Tells Me That Your Profession Doesn't Get Over Between Action & Cut'
Q. These days, it is assumed that celebrities need to have an opinion about everything apart from the industry where they are working in. Do you agree with that?
A. I think if you are a public figure, you will be asked about things and your opinion is going to reach that many people because you are a star. So, it's okay.
It's up to you how much you want to speak. If you have the knowledge about it then it's your wish if you want to speak about it or not. It's but obvious that you will get asked by people.
Unfortunately as a public figure, we don't have the freedom to keep our opinion to ourselves. But it's okay. I don't mind being asked my opinion. If I don't know something, I would admit it. If I know and I want to give my opinion, I would give it. If I know and I don't want to, it's all the power of my speech.
When you choose to become a public figure, you can't be choosy about what is being asked to you. That's a little unfair because everyone is doing their job. The media is doing their job, the actors and fans are doing what they want to do.
My father always tells me that your profession doesn't get over between action and cut. You are always in your profession even when you are walking on the street.
Q. What's the best piece of advice given to you by your father?
A. He has told me so many things. Maybe the fact that he said that you should always be honest with whatever you do because you are honing as an actor. You will be better with your fourth film as compared to your first. But the one thing that the audience always catch on is your honesty. So, always be honest. Don't take things for granted.
'I Believe In Stories & Not In Genres'
Q. What kind of films do you wish to explore now that you have stepped into the industry? Do you have a plan in your mind or will you be going by your instinct?
A. I want to do everything that feels right. I believe in stories and not in genres. If a story instinctively works for me and if I feel something when the director narrates it to me, I will take it up. I will not say no to anything if it works for me in my head.
I don't think creativity can flourish if you put in a box and have parameters.
Q. What's the best part of being an actor apart from the fact that you get to live a lot of different lives on screen?
A. (laughs) But that really drains you. Unfortunately, I am very emotionally attached to my characters. I am very much still attached to Firdaus and will always be. I don't think I can let go of that. But I am better now. It's a process. Just like how you need some time to get into your characters, the same holds true for getting out of it as well.
I am very surprised and want to be like some actors who can immediately switch on and off their characters. I think I will get better with time. Notebook was my first film. I think with my second film, I will mature more. In fact, I already have since the film's release.
'I Am The Most Forgiving Person'
Q. How have you evolved as a person after your debut film?
A. I have evolved a lot. Like, I have calmed down a lot more. Through the process, I have become more mature and learnt not to react to things immediately. I have learnt to take my time and let it sink into my system. Earlier, I used to react very impulsively.
Q. What's the one myth about actors which you think needs to be busted?
A. That actors are always out to get at each other and are extremely jealous of each other. I think that's the biggest misconception because till now whoever I meet and wherever I have interacted, I have never felt it. I was more than happy to promote a lot of other people's films.
At the end of the day, you are a human being. How can you sleep at night wanting ill for somebody? I have never understood that. I am not like that. I cannot wish anybody well. It's not my nature. Even if somebody wrongs me, I will be like okay, let's move on.
If you ask Zaheer (her co-star), he will tell you that I am the most forgiving person in this world. Also, if I don't like somebody, I don't talk to them. For me, they don't exist in my life.