I Was Getting Stereotyped in Girl-next-door Roles After Notebook

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Actor Mohnish Bahl’s daughter and yesteryear actress Nutan’s granddaughter Pranutan Bahl started her Bollywood career with Salman Khan’s production Notebook in 2019. Mohnish Bahl and Salman Khan go back a long way. At the trailer launch of Pranutan’s debut film, Mohnish had revealed how his fading acting career turned around after Salman recommended his name for the villain’s role in Maine Pyaar Kiya. So, it came as no surprise when Pranutan stepped into the film industry with Salman’s production.

However, it hasn’t been an easy journey for the budding actress, who had to wait for more than two years for her sophomore film. Notebook, which saw Pranutan as a compassionate teacher from Kashmir, received a lukewarm response upon its release and didn’t help her professionally. She was moving on from the failure by gearing up for her next project Helmet, but in early 2020, the coronavirus pandemic struck the country. Apart from that, the actress said she was getting pigeonholed into playing the same type of character over and over again. She said that she wanted to show the audience that she was really “the actor that could be something else.”

“After doing Notebook, I started realising that people were stereotyping me in that simple, girl-next-door roles,” Pranutan said. “And, it’s not very exciting for any actor. You always want to challenge yourself. After Notebook released, I’d always tell people I wanted to do comedy now or something that was more real and closer to myself.”

Helmet, also starring Aparshakti Khurana, Abhishek Banerjee and Ashish Verma, is a quirky depiction of the entrenched taboos and shyness surrounding the simple act of buying condoms in the nation’s heartland. The film is directed by Satramm Ramani with a screenplay and dialogues by Rohan Shankar.

“I was very excited when I auditioned for the role of Rupali and I was hoping that I would get this film. When I went for the narration after clearing my audition, I couldn’t control my laughter while hearing the script. I immediately wanted to be a part of this film’s universe. I really loved what Satramm had envisioned for my character and it was very interesting,” said Pranutan on what appealed to her about Helmet.

The film will mark Pranutan’s first on-screen collaboration with Aparshakti and she said she always wanted to work with him. “I remember meeting Aparshakti at a screening in 2019 and telling him, ‘we have to work together.’ We had randomly run into each other. And, we had no idea that we would be doing Helmet together. I think Apar and my scenes are extremely funny in the film. I’m always yelling at his character and it’s so funny.”

Helmet offers insight into a milieu where even accessing a birth-control device is wrought with multiple social challenges and psychological hang-ups. Sharing her own memory about the same, Pranutan said, “I discovered what actually condom was when I was in 10th or 12th standard. It’s always been taboo to even say the word- ‘condom.’ Unfortunately, that label is still there. Even when you talk to your friends, they will be like, ‘Oh, you are talking about all this!'”

Helmet will premiere on ZEE5 on September 3.

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