Mithila Palkar, the Marathi girl from Mumbai has entered Indian homes with her web series ‘Girl in the City’ and ‘Little Things’ followed by Bollywood films. Her latest Telugu film with Vishwak Sen ‘Ori Devuda’ formally launched her in south cinema. She plays the role of Anu who is Arjun’s (Vishwak Sen) best friend. How they get married for convenience and reach court for divorce is the story.
Mithila as the simple, fun-loving girl in this rom-com film fits the bill perfectly, and says the kind of role is her comfort zone. The film’s success and the first-hands the experience of the south audience’s love for cinema is memorable, she shares in this exclusive interview.
When you are cast in breezy romcom kind of roles, do you feel you are being offered the same kind of roles? Are you okay with it?
I do get put in a category. But I do auditions and consciously try to do different things. This year you will see me doing different roles. That said I am not complaining as that is my comfort zone. For example, when I was doing the Telugu film ‘Ori Devuda’, there was the language I had to work on. So, it was easier that the film is in a genre that I am comfortable with.
You are said to have a way with languages. How did you work around Telugu?
I do love learning languages. I also try to sing in different languages. But singing is different from speaking. I used to sit with my lines. My friend’s mother was one of the first people, who helped me. I would send her my lines, and she would send voice notes for me to learn. On the sets there was an Associate, Krishna, who was very kind and patient while guiding me how many times I asked him. I think I lucked out with the people around me on the shoot site, who used to explain to me even if I asked them about the same word 20 times. I would learn the Telugu lines like I learnt poetry. But I used to try and understand what the words meant because I had to emote and Vishwak had to respond.
You love singing. Do you see yourself as a playback singer?
Whenever I have free time, I prefer to spend with my grandmother, and listen to music. I like to listen to new music and learn to sing new songs. But I don’t see myself as a singer.
What’s latest on your playlist?
The latest of my playlist is AR Rehman’s 90s Tamil music. A few team members on the sets introduced me to the music, and I am hooked. Currently its songs from Roja movie are on my playlist.
What is your takeaway from working in a Telugu film?
I have spoken a lot about working in Telugu films. But I have to tell you my experience of the audience and the kind of reception I got, which will be my biggest takeaway. In Mumbai too we celebrate cinema, but we have moved away from single screen experience. When we drove in the car to Devi 70mm to watch ‘Ori Devuda’, Vishwak said ‘this is your Telugu audience experience,’ and it was overwhelming. There was dhol, music, crackers, and we were being showered with rose petals, and so much love. Inside the theatre even I joined the excitement and collected the tickets to throw at the screen. The energy even at the pre -release event was incredible.
I understand the love people of south India have for art. I saw this in Bengaluru too when I was there at Rangashankara for a play and audience came to fill the house in droves.
Does working on theatre stage give you an edge as an actor?
It is more about the kind of teachings that theatre has given me. Nothing teaches you humility and keeps you so grounded as theatre. When you are right in front of the audience, there are no retakes. That keeps me rooted and has contributed to what I am today.
You experience of working…
With Irrfan Khan?
He is a walking school of acting. It was a delight to watch him work. Even on the days I did not have the shoot I would be on the sets just to watch him act. I have not gone to any acting school. Whatever I learnt has been on the sets and watching such senior actors.
When I met DQ for the first time, he was there sitting on a sofa, wearing a cap and looking into his phone, quite chilled out. If I didn’t know better, I wouldn’t know what a star he is. When we were shooting in Cochin, I had the first-time experience of south audience. There were so many people who came to watch the shoot. It was amazing to watch his fans come to see him or just say hello.
With Vishwak Sen?
He is Mass ka Das. Everyone thinks he is a fighter. I never saw that side. He is very sweet person. He is very community guy, and wants to include everyone, be it for lunch that he would get for every one or for celebrations. I was struggling with language during ‘Ori Devuda’, but there was never a time that he was irritated. If I fumbled, he would remind me my lines or help me understand. He is a very giving person.
Your popular web series ‘Girl in the City’ and ‘Little Things’ is watched by people of all generations. Which generation do you identify with?
I am a millennial and I relate to that mostly. But I feel like I belong to 70s. I wish there was landline that you can rush to when it rings. I like to write letters…I don’t get the GenZ. They have their own slang, their terminology which I will never know until I ask.
What is that one thing that you miss from your more leisurely days?
Hanging out with friends in the Shivaji Park – it’s a famous area in Mumbai. And, we used to hang out a lot with school friends. Now, I do meet friends, but we hardly get enough time.
What gives you confidence and composure?
It is something I have learnt growing up, observing and experiencing. Whatever the little experience I have had is where my thoughts come from.
What is your take on relationships?
Relationships are lovely. And one must be left open to choose what they want, which perhaps comes from point of privilege. But if you have choice then you must exercise it, and companionship is more important in relationships.
What is your reaction to trolls?
There are trolls in DMs and comments. It is what you choose to focus on. Out of the ten good comments you can’t obsess over that one negative comment. If it is constructive criticism, I can take it…Most of the times I imagine to keep my head on my shoulders and focus on good things. It’s not always easy, but I learn.
Is there anything that you think you need to work on yourself?
I need to work on overthinking. I overthink everything and that is work in progress.