Starry Start - Malvika Raaj

After taking the ramp by storm over the last four years, Malvika Raaj, daughter of Bobby Raaj and granddaughter of Jagdish Raaj, is back to films after her first appearance in front of the camera as the young Poo in Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham. Her Tollywood film, Jayadev, directed by Jayanth Paranji, is set for release later this month. Hear what she had to say about her love for cinema and fashion in this tête-à-tête with You & I.

From playing Poo in Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham to a full fledged Tollywood film, what has the experience been like?
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working in Tollywood, although I did think I would be uncomfortable because I don’t know the language. The team made me very comfortable and welcomed me with open arms, so that helped tremendously. My director, Jayanth Paranji, is the most chill and calm person ever. And I guess when you have such a positive person around you, you’re automatically pumped up to give it your best.

How did the offer for Jayadev come about?
I met Jayanth sir two years ago when he was looking for a girl for a Kannada film that he was making. I gave the screentests but somehow things didn’t work out. But Jayanth sir knew he wanted to work with me at some point. So when this film came up, he called me with the offer and I agreed instantly.

Tell us about your role in the film.
It’s an emotional yet commericial film. It’s got a lot of action, songs, and romance. My character is light-hearted; she’s a modern girl who lives in her own dream world – kind of a nut case who doesn’t care about what people think of her. She’s only concerned about what Jayadev thinks of her.

It’s a very cute character and I relate to it quite a bit. I too like singing, dancing, and dressing up. I used to be a tomboy, but after this film I’ve become quite girly. My character has made me realise that I love makeup and dressing up, and of course I am concerned about how I look.

How was your first day of shooting?
To be honest, I was very nervous. But my director was so chill and told me I’d be able to do it. Everything went off very well, and on the last day of shoot I was sad because I didn’t want to stop shooting.

How difficult was it to act in a film, the language of which doesn’t come naturally to you?
It was not that hard because everyone explained each scene and line to me, and touch wood I picked it up quite well. Acting is acting, whether you’re doing it in Tollywood, Kollywood or Bollywood.

Pick a film remake that you’d like to be part of.
Bahubali, for sure. Just being a part of a film that great would be amazing. Of course, I’d love to play Anushka because it’s such a strong character. But at this point I’m not too sure I’d be able to play the role of a mother.

Coming from a film background, does acting come naturally to you?
We are a film family, but my sister Sonaakshi Raaj is a designer, and was not interested in the film industry. My parents were very supportive of her opting for her passion. On the other hand, I always loved it…it was my world. Right from my childhood I loved dancing and singing in front of the mirror, mimicking dialogues from films. Even after Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham I was very sure I wanted to be in this field; although I got a few offers, my dad wanted me to finish my studies before I got into it.

How different is acting from modelling?
The fashion industry is great. I’ve learnt a lot from it, but this is completely different from the ramp world. I’ve become more confident thanks to the modelling career. But once you’ve tasted acting, you don’t want to get back to the ramp. This is a different world.

You were into football, too…
Yes, I was the captain of my school’s football team. I got into football when I was in the 5th standard. I was a big David Beckham fan; I still am. I play FIFA on my PlayStation in my free time.

What else do you do when you’re not working?
I train…go for acting classes, martial arts, dancing, and pilates. And of course online shopping; it’s very addictive.

If you were to make an appearance at the Cannes Film Festival, which designer would you wear?
Zuhair Murad – his garments are gorgeous.      --- as told to Niharika