Tv star Ankita Lokhande is making her Bollywood debut in the upcoming Kangana Ranaut-starrer film Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi. In the film, she portrays the role of Jhalkaribai, a prominent advisor to the queen and the leader of her women’s army. Excerpts from an interview...
Very little is known about Jhalkaribai, who was an important figure during the battle at the fort of Jhansi.
Tell us a little bit about your character...
Jhalkaribai is a beautiful character. She’s a strong warrior who fights for her country. Right from her childhood, she’s been a fighter who stands up to any challenge. Not much is written about her in history books. Upon research, I found that she was exactly the same as Rani Laxmibai, in both age and valour. The only difference was that she came from a poor family. One reason for me to play the part of Jhalkaribai was to make people know more about her. She is worshipped by the people of Bundelkhand.
Was there a lot of physical training involved for the role?
Yes. I learnt horse-riding and sword-fighting. We trained for 30 days to prepare for the war sequences in the film. Hollywood stunt director Nick Powell flew down to train us. I was a little scared but it was a lot of fun.
How was your experience of working with Kangana — both as a co-actor and also as part of her first directorial venture?
Since this was my debut film, I was quite nervous. I wanted to prove myself. As a co-actor, Kangana was very supportive and aware of what’s going on within me — that’s exactly what you need when you are just starting out, somebody who supports you in the process.
Then, when she came on set as a director, she was even more kind and supportive towards me. Whether she was in the scene or not, she would always sit there and give me inputs. Not every director can give you that level of attention and care. She took interest in the smallest of things and was constantly there for me.
Did you have to reshoot any scene?
No, no reshoots for me. All my scenes are added onto the film — nothing was reshot.
Manikarnika is a big-budget film, with lavish sets and cinematography. It’s quite a grand debut for you. Going ahead, what sort of films can we expect to see you in?
After Manikarnika releases, I am hoping for more good films to come my way. I’m not particular about genres or anything like that. If I like the script and the character being offered to me, I would do the film. I wish to do a typical Bollywood film. It would be great if I get one soon.
I would also love to do a web-series. Digital platforms have opened many avenues for good actors. In films, you only get 2-3 hours to tell a story, so you can’t use many actors — but ever since digital shows have come, I can see many talented actors. I not doing a web series at the moment but I would surely like to be a part of one in near future.