Sometimes we have to take hard decisions: Prachi Tehlan on opting out from Ram

If there’s one thing she knows for sure, it’s how to galvanise the screen. And with her one film in Malayalam, having played the role of Unnimaya, actress Prachi Tehlan made everything look so easy on screen.

While movie buffs wanted to see more of her character in the Mammootty-starrer Mamangam, Prachi states she was lucky enough to bag the magnum opus. The diva was in Kochi for an event winning Kalabahavan Mani memorial award for best newcomer for the movie Mamangam.

Her relatability is her USP and the more you learn of her inspiring journey, the more your respect grows. In a candid conversation with Onmanorama, she opens up her journey from a basketball player into a showbiz.

Photos: Bob Duncan

2020 must have brought a big change for you - from Ms. to Mrs.

It had been a roller coaster. The year had been a mixture of a lot of things. The lockdown happened and it was absolutely new thing for many people. Initially, we enjoyed the time sitting at home. But eventually, reality strikes and you realize you can't sit like that. It was during that time that I reached out to my husband Rohit. He randomly came to my mind as we dated long back in 2013.

I reached out to him asking him what he was up to. We talked and suddenly he asked, 'will you marry me'. I was surprised and we decided to spend some time with each other. Thus, we discussed marriage in our homes.

So, the pandemic also taught me that we are running a race that is uncertain. So I thought it is important to have a life, I should have the experience of setting up a family, being with my husband and in-laws. My husband is a wildlife conservationist and I learnt a lot of things by exploring things. The year to sum up, not on a professional level, but on a personal level went well.

We happen to see your photo with Mohanlal on the sets of Ram...

No, I am not a part of Ram. I met Mohanlal and Jeethu on the sets. They wanted me to do a part in Ram but I was looking for a more substantial role.

I was excited and it would have been a dream come true project. But sometimes we have to take a hard decision and leave behind certain chances to move forward and position yourself in the market.

After watching Mamangam, many felt that your character demanded more screen time and depth. How do you look at it?

Everybody tells the same. I feel happy when people say they wanted to see more of the character with me. It's a periodical drama and a huge film and everybody had a limited time. In the original script, there was more acting scope but then you know and for the betterment of the project, there were a lot of changes. But at the end of the day, I am glad that I could be part of the project and was introduced to an industry with such a crew. I couldn't be more thankful to producer Venu and to megastar Mammootty. The child artiste Achuthan is like my little brother and I have a wonderful rapport with Anu Sithara, Unni Mukundan, Sudev Nair, and others. We spent so much time together like a family.

So will we get to see you in some more Malayalam films?

I do wish. I am looking forward to some good projects with good roles. Unfortunately, people make my height a taboo. Initially, I was told I can't be a hero as it would be difficult to find one more than mine. Having such height has got its own advantages and disadvantages. Things are changing, for now, new filmmakers no more care about appearance and rather the game is up for acting and how the person fits into the character. That is the era. I am what I am. I am trying to focus my role accordingly.

How challenging has been your journey given the fact that you were an outsider?

It is still challenging even after doing three films and two shows. The journey is still struggling. The most difficult part in the industry is finding the right people and getting the right chances. Or you do good work, people watch and calling you is another way. A good reference is for an outsider I am saying - for someone who does not know how the industry works.

Honestly, it's all with destiny and how much you work hard. It's a very personal choice. You have to sacrifice to reach a position and what you sacrifice is what you choose.

Prachi | Photos: Sathyan Rajan

Tell us something about the time when you decided to be a basketball player?

I was in class seventh and a shy kid but always the tallest. So the sports coach noticed me and asked why I don't try. I gradually developed an interest in the game. And thus began the journey which never stopped from then.

How would you like to be known as - a basketball player or an actress?

The player. See that has brought me where I am today and basketball had been my first love. I can never forget my roots.

You have been part of TV serials and films. Now, with things moving to OTT, how do you look at it?

I think lines are getting blurred for actors. OTT is searching for new faces with talents. They don't need Khans and Kapoors to make a hit. Very good time for actors and writers with OTT.

The upcoming projects...

I have one Telugu film awaiting for release. Also been giving auditions for an OTT project. Also, I have been making some Safari videos for my YouTube channel.

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