Monika Panwar: When Aamir Khan called me after Jamtara, I felt I have done something good – Exclusive | Hindi Movie News – Times of India

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Monika Panwar has previously proved her acting prowess in projects such as Super 30, Jamtara, Class of 83, and Mast Mein Rehne Ka. She is set to take on a leading role in the upcoming movie Dukaan, scheduled for release on April 5, directed by Siddharth-Garima, known for their work on films like Toilet – Ek Prem Katha, Raabta, and Ram-Leela.
In an exclusive interview with ETimes, Monika openly discussed her preparations for portraying a surrogate in Dukaan, her five-year journey as an actor, receiving praise from Aamir Khan, and the challenges within the film industry.
What was the deciding factor that led you to accept the role in Dukaan?
You go through lots of things but especially with Dukaan, the foremost was the script, because Siddharth-Garima have written a powerful script. The writing is impactful and the way they portray their female characters, there’s something unusual about it. They will write it with all intensity and at the same time they’ll give this certain whimsical nature to the character also. So they have given everything to the character and to the story, all the arcs, the graphs, this whole range of emotion. So once I read the script, I was asking to myself that how am I going to do this? So I was kind of like in this state, you know, when as an actor you’re not relaxed, when as an actor there’s this chaos going inside you, you’re always worried and you’re always asking how to crack this scene, that scene. So I was in that state, that’s why I said yes to Dukaan.
Did you have any reservations while preparing for your character? Did you study pregnant women to add realism to your role?
Yes. While I was preparing for the character, the main thing is that the story of Dukaan has a Gujarati backdrop. Siddharth Garima wanted that there’s this certain accent or a dialect you can say for this character. So firstly, I did all the readings with them. My favorite part is to go in the real locations where the shoot is going to take place and then where this story is based. I went to Anand and we spent at least 2-3 weeks with the surrogates there, where all the surrogates live. It’s like a different community. It’s almost like an eye-opener just to observe them, just to be there, just to see Anand, just to kind of absorb the city or the people there. So, yes, this was the process and that’s how we have done by going to the real location.
Do you envision becoming a mother in the future and experiencing the emotions similar to those in your role?
Well, I guess I have done almost the opposite of that. So I think right now I’m fine because as an actor that’s what you’re doing it and that’s what gives you pleasure that you tap on such emotions that you have never felt. So I think just tapping into the emotion of going through all the motherhood thing or getting all that maternal instinct, what it is, what is mother’s love, you know, what kind of love it is. So I have experienced it in the film, so I’m completely fine. As long as it’s for the screen, I think I’m fine. I don’t know about the real, reality, I’m fine. I will do all the realism on-screen.
What are your personal thoughts on surrogacy and egg freezing, considering their increasing use in Bollywood for having children?
I think this is the best thing. If the technology is giving you some hope, so why don’t you take it? And especially for surrogacy and egg freezing. For surrogacy, I think that if you are maintaining all the rules and regulations so that no party is exploited, then it’s a good thing because the surrogates are also earning their livelihood, if you’ll see from their point of view, and the one who is getting the child, you know, someone is getting all the hope, all the joy of life. And with egg freezing, we all know this, like there’s this biological ticking clock going on. So if technology is offering you so much, why not? So I think it’s a really good thing.

Dukaan – Official Trailer

Can you share some of your positive, negative, challenging experiences in the Bollywood industry?
Well, it’s been five years I’m in this industry, I’m part of this industry. And what I can give you is all like a good review. And often people get offended whenever I say no, this is such a good industry, I have no bad experiences because they’re like, they’re like kuch toh hoga. The main thing is this only, people always think that this industry is something like this, yaha aisa hota hai, waisa hota hai, they have got all assumptions, they’re assuming a lot of things. But I think I’m one of the examples and I’m not saying just because I have not experienced something doesn’t mean some things don’t exist. Of course, there are some roles jo aapko nahi diye gaye because of some big cast. And there’s a lot of things but it’s still prevalent. I’m not saying that I’m not ignoring it. I’m acknowledging it. But abhi tak meri jitni bhi journey rahi hai, I have like the best experiences. Of course, there are some roles jo aapko nahi gaye because of some big cast. And you know, there’s a lot of things but it’s still prevalent. I’m not saying that I’m not ignoring it. I’m acknowledging it. But I don’t think so this makes as a negative experience or something. I’m very glad I’m very fortunate that mujhe opportunity mila to work with some of the best directors or the best production houses and at the end you’re performing something, the kind of the roles I’ve always wanted to do something, something very substantial and something very creative, representing any female jiski ek aawaz ho. I come from a theatre background, National School of Drama. And I moved to Bombay and jaise jaise I started giving audition, all the casting people chahe woh jo bhi ho, kisi ne bhi kabhi koi badtameezi se baat nahi kiya. And I think the main reason is like because I was clear what kind of work I want to do. So my thing is that only, aapke experiences kahi na kahi, aapke experiences kaise hone waale hain, it also depends on aapke thought process kitna clear hai. So I think it’s better to just work on yourself rather than, rather than just afterwards and blaming on others ki aisa ho gaya, yaa aisa ho gaya.
What was the most impactful praise or criticism you have received that deeply affected you?
I’m quite a neutral kind of a person, whenever there’s a happy moment, I’m fine. Whenever there’s a sad moment, then also I’m fine. I’m quite self-critical. Mujhe abhi tak mera koi bhi kaam pasand nahi aaya hai, be it Jamtara or be it Choona or Mast Mein Rehne Ka. I’ve never liked my work. So nobody can criticize me more than myself. But with the praise also, the first validation I look for is within myself. But phir kabhi kabhi hota hai ki of course, aapki audience kis tarike se respond kar rahi hai, usse zyada kabhi kabhi kisi ke calls aa jata hai. So I remember after Jamtara Aamir sir ne call kiya tha, it was like a biggest thing. So woh kahi na kahi aisa lagta hai ki haan, shayad you must have done something good. That’s why he’s calling you. But I don’t think I have been really affected by anyone’s criticism.

How would you describe your childhood and how did you adapt to the changes while growing up?
I come from this beautiful hill station and it’s a small town, New Tehri, Tehri Garhwal, Uttarakhand. I don’t know, mein aapko zyada bata paungi ya nahi, but mostly the people who come from hills, ya phir jo wahan se hote hai, they are very innocent, they are very rooted and I think that’s the best part and that’s what I want to keep alive. Wo mere kaam mein bohot help karta hai. Jab aap apna first ya second project karte ho, there is a certain innocence you have and then after doing lots and lots of work, you kind of lose that innocence. So my whole thing I strive for is to keep that innocence intact and to keep yourself grounded and humble. So that’s what I have got from there and that’s what I can say. My family and my childhood and the place I come from, it always kind of makes me feel very grounded. Today also when I go there, there are people who are not very ambitious as such. They are very relaxed, they find enjoyment in small things. So my childhood was something like that.
Were your parents supportive of your career decisions?
Yes, they are pretty much, they are very happy right now and everything is going well, but earlier, I would not say they were not supportive. But ek jo parents ka hota hai ki they also kind of didn’t understand what I was talking about because we come from a very small town. I come from a family of teachers, engineers, doctors, so waha pe actors wagera kisi ko samajh mein nahi aata hai. They were not supportive before, but when I got admission in National School of Drama, then unko thoda sa confidence aaya hai ki, okay, I’m taking the right path.
What do you enjoy the most and find challenging about acting in the film industry?
There are lots of things. But I think the very basic thing about acting is, as a human, you become more grounded and you kind of understand the human connection and the whole universe in a very profound level. The challenging part is that every creative job is very unpredictable. There’s a lot of uncertainty, you never know what’s working today will not work tomorrow. So this unpredictable nature is something quite depressing. In other fields, the logic is very clear that if you’re good in studies, you can crack any college and you’ll get a good package. But with acting, it’s not like that. Even if you’re good in acting, there are actors who are not getting the part. So it works in a totally different way. Like I have some of my friends or just an acquaintance, they are such a good actors. Bombay is filled with brilliant, beautiful actors, but still they don’t have a job. So this is what makes me sad. And this is the horrible part of the film industry.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to your younger self?
If I want to just correct some action, I think I’ll ask my younger self to read more of a literature. Because when I was like 18, 19, I was far, far away from literature. And today, I’m almost like a book. I’m like an avid reader. So I always kind of regret that.
Who has been your biggest mentor or supporter in the industry?
Particularly, like no one, I don’t have any Godfather in the industry. Now if I look back, there’s no one, who you would like to thank and say because of you, I’m here or something. I think it’s just because of me, I’m here. But as a supporter, I would say, the people I’ve worked with, all the production like Viacom, Vijay Maurya production, and Matchbox shorts. There are such courageous productions and the producers, because of them people like us, the new faces are getting chances. So for me, these are the supporters who are taking a bet on you. These are the people I respect in my life from industry.

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