Koel Mullick – Exclusive Interview
Calcutta Tube gladly presents this exclusive interview with Koel Mullick - one of the brightest stars of Tollywood. We appreciate her co-operation. We wish her good luck and success in whatever she does in life. This is a summary of the conversation. Please listen to the exclusive audio coverage of the Interview by Shrabanti Basu.
Calcutta Tube: You are in the industry for some time now and we all like your work. Please tell us when you first thought of becoming an actress. Were you inspired by your father?
Koel: I was offered roles in different movies when I was in High School. But my parents were very concerned about my studies. So I could not come into the industry then. A few years later, when I was in college first year studying Psychology Honors, I got the offer for “Naater Guru“, a story by eminent novelist Samaresh Basu, and the director was Haranath Chakraborty, who has a huge reputation in making commercial films. It was indeed a very good offer and I decided to give it a try. I talked with my father and he said that I can go ahead if I am ready to take all the responsibilities. Working in the film industry requires one to take a big responsibility because there is always a huge amount of investment and hard work of many people involved in it. My father made me aware of all the responsibilities and the seriousness that I had to take as an actress. However, I decided to give it a very very good try and put all my effort into the film. But, when I signed my first film, I did not know that I was going to take acting as my profession.
Calcutta Tube: In the early days of your acting, were you still thinking of becoming a psychologist?
Koel: Absolutely. I completed my graduation and started my Masters, too. By then, I had already signed up for a lot movies. I was constantly working and it was becoming very difficult to keep up both with my work and academics. I had to choose either of them. Since, I had already earned my name in the film industry, I thought of taking it up as a profession. I can resume my studies some time in future.
Calcutta Tube: So, the atmosphere where you grew up in never made you want to become an actress?
Koel: Not really. I was never very ambitious. As a child whatever I did, I took interest in it and tried to do it seriously. But I was not exactly driven by ambition.
Calcutta Tube: Did the glamour world ever attract you?
Koel: Not at all. Even when people asked me if I would want to become an actress because my father is an actor, I strongly disagreed. It never occurred to me that I have to be an actress just because of my family background in the cinema industry.
Calcutta Tube: Most of the time, we see just the glamour side of the film industry. But I am sure it is a lot more than that. Would you like to share something about the hard work associated with the making of a film, as being a part of it.
Koel: From the point of view of a daughter who loves to spend time with her family, the first thing I would like to say is that we have to spend a lot of time outside Calcutta. We stay away from home for months. Then, what the audiences get to see on the screen is just the heroes, heroines and their co-actors. But there is a lot more going on behind the screen. The hard work of the director, the editor, the cameramen, the make-up men, or the spot boys remains unnoticed. We have to keep on working against all odds- we often have to work outside in the cold for hours without our warm clothes on, and cannot even show the faintest expression of feeling cold in front of the camera. We have to get up at 3 in the morning to get ready for the shots, no matter how cold it is outside, and probably work till late in the evening. We go through a real hard time when we are shooting for a film, often working 19 hours a day.
Calcutta Tube: Did you ever feel that everybody has high expectations from you just because you are the daughter of a very famous actor?
Koel: I have never attended any acting workshops because I did not know that I would be coming to the industry. If I had plans to be what I am today, I would have attended workshops. When I came to the industry, I was totally unaware of the technical sides of acting. Once I started acting, I gradually picked things up with my directors’ help. When it comes to the expectations of others, I took it as a very very positive pressure. When I was working in my first film, my director was very very happy with my work. But after the release of the film, I realized that everything was going to be connected to my father. I was expected to do something good just for being the daughter of Ranjit Mullick. At the same time, if I had failed, I would be blamed as Ranjit Mullick’s daughter. It was always taken for granted that I was Ranjit Mullick’s daughter and not considered as just another entity who could be given credits or discredits just for being herself.
Calcutta Tube: Have you ever felt that you have not been credited enough for your hard work?
Koel: Not at this point of time. Luckily, I have gained an identity for myself. Also I looked at the bright side of it. It made me very proud that my father is so good an actor that as a daughter I could not really come out of his shadows. It was a very positive feeling for me and I tried to improve myself all the time. I really never felt any identity crisis or got frustrated. I have always been used to being called Ranjit Mullick’s daughter all my life. And I am very proud of the fact. I am really blessed that people have lots of expectations from me, which indicates that I have the potential.
Calcutta Tube: In your early days of acting, how did your father help you?
Koel: My father does not believe in mechanically teaching acting to somebody. Acting is something that has to come out naturally. You cannot be really taught how to act, say the dialogues, move in front of the camera. It should come out spontaneously rather than someone constantly teaching you how to make all your moves. So, he did not really teach me how to act out my roles. But in those starting days, I always discussed my roles with him after studying the scripts, and we still do that. It is very important to choose a good script. I believe in doing selective work rather than working in a number of films. My father helps me in choosing the scripts and answers all my questions. Another thing that I do is, enact all the possible expressions in front of him and he chooses out the best option.
Calcutta Tube: What role do the acting schools play in that case?
Koel: Acting, like any other form of art like music, painting or dance, is an inborn aptitude and has to be there inside you. An acting school does not necessarily teach you how to act, but brush up your aptitude for acting, or teach you some technicalities. The other day I was working with Sohini Pal, the daughter of Tapas Pal . It was her second film. She has done a workshop for her first film, but has not been to any acting schools. But I could tell that the acting was coming from somewhere deep inside her. She has it in her blood. I do not mean to say that only the kids of some famous actor can only be good at acting. What I mean is the aptitude for acting has to be there inside you.
Calcutta Tube: How do you select your roles in a movie? Is it just the character you are going to play or the story on the whole - you pay attention to?
Koel: It comprises of a lot of things. You have to choose an excellent production house with excellent marketing capabilities. Else all our effort put into the movie goes in vain due to lack of presentation. Production house has a very very important role. The director is very very important. He plays the role of the caption of a ship. He has to direct every single person of the team. The script is another important thing. It is called the backbone of the film. I also need to know about my character and see how much I can contribute.
Calcutta Tube: Is your struggle in the industry by any means different than the others?
Koel: I did not have to struggle coming into the industry and coming into the limelight. I am thankful to my father for that. I really feel bad when I see that others waiting in the studio for hours just to get an appointment with the director, or have to prove themselves in every step of the prelimainary screening. I was lucky enough not to go through the preliminary auditioning round, which I think is the biggest struggle time in the industry. But after I entered the industry, there was always a quest to fight for the best. I think it is true for everyone, that when you are doing something you have to try to be the best. I don’t know if I would call it a struggle, but I always wanted to prove myself the best.
Calcutta Tube: What kind of roles do you like to do the best?
Koel: I have worked in different kind of films. I enjoy doing entertaining films the most. The commercial films are called to be the backbone of the industry. At the same time, I have also enjoyed working in cerebral films. They may not the best choice for pure entertainment, but they certainly have an intelligent side. I think I have enjoyed doing both types of films. I love to dance around the trees, and at the same time I enjoy doing realistic type of films.
Calcutta Tube: Do you have formal training in dance?
Koel: I started my training in Odissi when I was just five. My Guruji is Srimati Sudha Dutt . I guess it has helped me later when I joined the film industry. My classical background in dance provided me with all the aids I needed in the commercial filmy type of dances. The classical training makes the commercial dance look more esthetic.
Calcutta Tube: What do you have to do for physical fitness?
Koel: I definitely have to be conscious about what I eat and follow a healthy diet. Work out is a must. It helps tone up the body.
Calcutta Tube: Please tell us something about your co actors and directors who have enjoyed working with.
Koel: I have worked with quite a few people and I have enjoyed working with all of them. I have worked with Bumba da (Prasenjeet Chatterjee) in two films, who I have known since I was a little girl. It was very nice working with him. Right now, I am working with Dev and Hiron, and both of them are very promising actors. I have enjoyed working with Jishu a lot.
Calcutta Tube: How do you feel when you are giving a shot with your father?
Koel: I am always nervous while sharing screen with my father. He sits there looking very serious and strict, a lot more than what he usually is at home, and tries to make sure that I do everything perfectly. In Tarun Majumdar’s “Chander Baari “, my father and I played the father daughter role, and I had to request my father ahead of time not to scold me in front of everybody.
Calcutta Tube: How would you describe yourself as a person?
Koel: I am a very introvert person who is very conservative in her thoughts and honest in nature.
Calcutta Tube: What are your hobbies?
Koel: I enjoy drawing and painting these days. I used to have lot more hobbies in the past.
Calcutta Tube: Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
Koel: I will be gone from the industry by that time and will have my own family and kids. I see myself as a mother waiting for her kids outside their school.
Calcutta Tube: Have you ever though becoming a director?
Koel: Not at all. I am just concentrating on my acting.
Calcutta Tube: What about working in Hindi or other regional films?
Koel: I have got a lot of offers from Hindi films. If everything works out fine, I many work in the Hindi movies.
Calcutta Tube: Do you watch the recently released films or the ones you have worked in?
Koel: I make a point to watch all my films. It helps me improve myself as an actress.
Calcutta Tube: The movie theatres in Kolkata are now showing “Jackpot “. How do you feel as being a part of the movie?
Koel: It is an excellent blend of entertainment and intelligence. I have thoroughly enjoyed working in the film because of the unique blend. The balance between the entertainment part and the cerebral part is very difficult to maintain. I have enjoyed working with Koushik da (Director Koushik Ganguly ) and he has helped me a lot all throughout the making of the film. My character in the film is a very very unusual character that I have never portrayed in my entire career.
Calcutta Tube: A few years back the Bengali film industry was lacking audience. Do you think the trend is changing and we are having an increase in the number of audience of the Bengali cinema?
Koel: We are having more audience these days and they are indeed enjoying the Bengali cinema. Larger sums are being invested in the Bengali film industry these days. We also have better technologies than ever before. All these have added to the quality of the Bengali films currently made. I entered the industry just when this new trend started coming in and I have been here all this time and have been a part of this big change.
Calcutta Tube: Do you use internet?
Koel: Yes, I do.
Calcutta Tube: Would you like to say something about video piracy?
Koel: Video piracy always has a negative influence on the industry. Thanks to the cube digital technology that makes it impossible to make copies in any forms. It is going to put an end to the piracy. But, at the same time we all have to be conscious about the video piracy. The viewers have to stop enjoying the movies at a lower price from the video parlors. It makes the industry suffer. The illegal providers of the movies are not the only ones to be blamed, the ones who access them are equally guilty. The demand for the videos often makes the suppliers stay in business. It is a curse to the industry.
Calcutta Tube: Please say something to your fans at the Calcutta Tube.
Koel: You all have a wonderful life. Please wish me luck and support me for all my films. Please wish that I have a better and a more fruitful life and grow up more as an actor.