Breaking Stereotypes: Mouni Roy l Brahmāstra l Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi

by pavan
Known for her stellar performance as Junoon in 2022’s biggest blockbuster, Brahmāstra, Mouni Roy has created waves across the world for her splendid portrayal of the antagonist in Ayan Mukerji’s directorial.

Known for her stellar performance as Junoon in 2022’s biggest blockbuster, Brahmāstra, Mouni Roy has created waves across the world for her splendid portrayal of the antagonist in Ayan Mukerji’s directorial. Playing a sinister villain in a fantasy film is no easy feat but Mouni sure made it look so. The actress credits Ayan for writing the character brief so beautifully that she was determined to bring out her best for it. The role is one of the most noteworthy and career-altering ones of her life.

The attractive actress is originally a television heroine who made her Bollywood debut with the film Gold in 2018. Previous to that she was the reigning star of television thanks to her role as Shivanya in the supernatural series Naagin. Many may even know her as Krishna Tulsi from Ekta Kapoor’s drama show Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi.

A dancer par excellence, Mouni has appeared in several dance reality shows like Jhalak Dhikhhla Jaa. Her stint in television made her a household name not only in India but in other countries too, and that paved the way for her bagging roles like that of a R&AW spy in the John Abraham starrer Romeo Akbar Walter, and in films like Made in China and OTT feature film London Confidential. Read on to know how she bagged all these roles and what it took for her to reach where she is today.

Firstly, congratulations on the success of your latest film Brahmāstra, the success of which is still ringing worldwide. How does it feel to be part of such a big blockbuster film?
Thank you! It feels amazing to be a part of the astraverse that Ayan has created. Being part of this unique story itself was immensely gratifying and we are all very thankful and grateful that it has been accepted so well worldwide.

Your role of Junoon is a very complex one. How did you train for it and what was the experience of shooting for the film like?
Junoon is probably one of the most complex and interesting characters I have ever had the fortune of playing. I think half the character sketch was achieved with the right costuming, and then the most difficult part of portraying the character was achieved thanks to Ayan’s direction and the writing. The projection was more inwards rather than being for the world. Ayan was very clear that Junoon’s sole purpose was her relationship and devotion to only one being, her Brahmadev, and acquiring the Brahmāstra for him. It took multiple readings and rehearsals to get the character portrayal right. Working with Ayan has been a dream come true. I can proudly tick it off from my bucket list now.

The actress credits Ayan for writing the character brief so beautifully that she was determined to bring out her best for it. The role is one of the most noteworthy and career-altering ones of her life.

Let’s chat about your debut in acting. You began your career as a television actress in Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi. How did you bag the role and was acting always on the cards?
I was actually preparing to be an IAS officer, it had always been my father and my dream for me to be so. I pursued my English Honors and an MA in Mass Communication in which I had written my dissertation on Habib Tanvir and Indian street theatre. Just by virtue of being a Bengali, I liked to sing and dance and do street theatre in school and college, but acting happened completely by chance. I was walking outside my university one day when someone from Bajali telefilms tapped my shoulder and asked me to audition for a show they were casting. I auditioned, got the part and came to Mumbai thinking I was coming for a summer job. It was all very exciting. But I loved it so much that I never went back, and things just continued to happen organically. I truly believe that only good work begets more work and ever since my debut, I have been working tirelessly and loving absolutely every bit of it.

Your role in the supernatural thriller Naagin was like a turning point in your career, making you the highest paid actress in Hindi television. What was that period like?
That was an excruciatingly busy and extremely satisfying period as an actor and dancer for me. I remember being busy every single day, the whole year. Naagin has given me everything I have today and I am forever grateful to Ekta ma’am for it.


How did the transition from television to movies happen?
I was very happy doing what I was doing and I honestly thought that I would be playing the same role in Naagin year-after-year and season-after-season, but deep inside I also dreamt of seeing myself on the big screen, doing movies and playing different characters that could show my versatility. But it all happened by chance. I had just finished Naagin Season 1 when I received a call from the office of Nandini Shrikent who was casting for Gold. I went and auditioned for the role but didn’t hear back from them for almost three to four months. I was then shooting for Naagin Season 2 when one fine day I got a call from the office saying they wanted me to give a look test, so between the Naagin shoot, during lunch break, I went to give the look test. Again after that I didn’t hear back from them for a month, and then one evening I got a call from the office to fix a meeting with Reema ma’am and Akshay sir. I still remember when I met them, a few minutes into our conversation they told me that I got the role; it was one of the happiest moments of my life!



What would you call the turning point in your career and to what or who do you credit your success?
There have been many milestones in different genres. For dancing it would be Jhalak Dikhala Jaa, in television it was Naagin, in the movies it was Gold and then Brahamastra.

Ekta ma’am has been the one person who has always shown faith in me even when I had no clue that I could act or had the calibre to play different characters. Apart from that, I am grateful to every single filmmaker, director, and producer who has trusted me with all the characters I have played in my career. My manager Trishila, my entire team that works tirelessly to build the characters I play and the performances I make, and lastly, my own hard work, passion, and love towards what I do every single day is responsible for this success.

If there’s one thing you could have done differently in life, what would it be and why?
To be honest, nothing at all! My journey has been quite the rollercoaster ride and I am the person and the professional I am today because of all the goods, the bads, the mistakes I’ve made and the things I’ve learnt along the way. The roles I have played and the parts that I have let go have all made me who I am so I wouldn’t want to change anything, I regret nothing!

You got married a year ago and your husband does not belong to the film or television world. So tell us, how has life changed after marriage? Would you call marrying someone from a different profession a boon or a bane?
To each their own. You don’t get to choose who you fall in love with, you fall in love with who you fall in love with, with all their shortcomings, their boons and banes. I think I got lucky with who I married because Suraj gives me perspective in everything I do. For instance, I used to worry a lot…about everything, whether it was my work, my life, what’s going to happen next. I was slightly fearful about the future, and one fine day, long before we got married, Suraj said to me “You know how big the world is and how many professions there are, and all you’re concerned about is Bombay and the film world”, and that kind of opened up my thought process and made me think and do more with my life. I’ve now become an entrepreneur along with Suraj. I will talk about that part of my life soon. So for me, marrying my husband is one of the best decisions of my life!

In your decade-long journey, you’ve had a fair share of ups and downs. So tell us how you cope with a flop and how do you remain calm amidst the chaos?
I’m a very wholesome person so I look at things as a whole. Yes, it’s been a decade and I’ve had ups and downs, from signing four films in two months to not having any other films in years after covid hit. I truly believe that I give every single priority in my life as much importance as the other. My personal life is as important as my professional life and I’ve learnt over time, how to strike a balance between the two. My spiritual journey too is as important as my personal journey so a lot of times I’ve given it to myself to be a better human being to understand the world of maya and to know that nothing is permanent. So if I know I’ve given my 100% to something, whether it’s work, a friendship or anything else, I accept that the rest is not in my hands. Do I feel upset and rejected if it does not go the way I expected? Yes, of course, but I don’t hold on to that grief forever. There was a time when I did, but now I have learnt to let go because I know that nothing is permanent and whatever is meant for me will come my way and whatever isn’t, no matter how great it is, will pass me by.

Previous to that she was the reigning star of television thanks to her role as Shivanya in the supernatural series Naagin. Many may even know her as Krishna Tulsi from Ekta Kapoor’s drama show Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi.

I believe that it’s very important to have all the bads and all the downs in order to enjoy the good and celebrate the wins, and that’s how I look at my journey, and that’s what I tell the youngsters too. I tell them to give in their 100% and live their present to the fullest because only then will they have a good future. Like I said earlier, there’s no shortcut to success and your work begets work so keep faith, work on yourself and improve on yourself because no education and learning in life goes to waste.

You’re quite the fabulous dancer and your performances across the world have won you many compliments. Your recent aerial act along with Akshay Kumar was the talk-of-the-town. How do you prepare for a show?
Thank you so much. I love dancing…whether it is a stage performance or dancing for the screen, I just love the sound of the 5, 6, 7, 8, and I feel when you truly love something you put in more of an effort to get better at it. For me, there is no mantra to prepare for a show, it’s just rehearsals and rehearsals, and then some more (laughs)! Once your steps are in your muscle memory, it gets easier to emote and to perform, and focus on your facial expressions. In our kind of profession, we don’t get too much time to practice on performances so I think that’s where your experience comes in handy. Having said that, what you learn through a stage performance is unparalleled. All the reality shows that I have done have really taught me so much—understanding the body awareness, the different forms of dancing, and patience and resilience.

Can you believe that I hadn’t actually rehearsed the aerial act with Akshay sir. It was actually kind of impromptu. I just had to have faith in myself and in Akshay sir that we would pull it off, and we did! I was so thrilled that I did a stunt without practice. I hope
and pray that I get to do many more such stunts in the future.

How do you balance your personal and professional life?
Honestly, I don’t. I let it go with the flow. When I am at work, I’m concentrating only on it and giving it my 100% and when I’m with my husband, family, and friends, I’m very into that as well. I love where I am and always live in the present. I have been able to achieve this with the help of a lot of meditation and yoga. It takes a lot of effort to constantly try and centre your attention to one thing, so I meditate every day, and that has made my life a lot easier. I’m a very emotional person, also very spontaneous, and that kind of helps me being where I am. Also, I’ve been very lucky and blessed to be surrounded by amazing people—my family, my husband, in laws, my friends…everyone has been very supportive. Even the people I work with are all lovely and very empathetic so that makes it easy for me to balance my life.

Who is your biggest inspiration?
My biggest inspiration is my father. I have never met a more honest, wise, and more loving human being than him. He always said that you have to be a good person before anything else and that everything in life starts and ends with that. He also used to say that there is great power in the theory of negation and that you have to know when to say no. I never understood it as a child but I do now. His words have shaped my life and my career to what it is today.

What’s your take on fashion? What’s your personal style and who’s your go-to designer/stylist for everything?
I believe in the saying that fashion changes but style remains constant. I don’t really follow every fashion trend that comes along, I choose and stick to whatever works best for me. Thankfully, we have many brilliant stylists who style us. Some of the ones I’m working with presently are Mohit Rai, Anu, Rishika, and Maneka. They are my go-to stylists for everything.

What does the future hold for you? Tell us about your upcoming projects?
The Virgin Tree is one film that I can’t wait for everyone to see.Apart from that there are a few OTT shows that I’m filming currently. I’m also judging Dance Bangla Dance which is something my mom is very excited about as it’s in Bengali, and there are few untitled projects which I’m waiting for the makers to announce.

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