Connect with us


Priya Mani on her chemistry with Ajay Devgn in Maidaan: “It just happened very organically”

Maidaan, directed by Amit Ravindernath Sharma, is running in cinemas.



Priya Mani in Maidaan

After two back-to-back successes in Hindi – Jawan and Article 370 – actress Priya Mani is excited about her latest Hindi release Maidaan starring Ajay Devgn. The Amit Ravindernath Sharma directorial is running in cinemas. In an exclusive conversation with CINE BLITZ, Priya Mani talked about her experience of working in the film.

What was director Amit Ravindernath Sharma’s brief to you about the character in Maidaan?

Priya Mani: He just narrated the whole story to me. All the boxes were ticked for me right before I met Amit Sharma. After I met him, I think I coloured all the boxes in green and said, “I’m going to do it.” Because the story is very hard-hitting, very touching, and very emotional. It is not only a story just about football, though that is the bottom line.

There are other factors involved in the story also, like how the family plays a very important role, and how Saira, as a wife is his (Syed Abdul Rahim) backbone. She holds the fort when he’s not at home. She sees that the house is running properly.

And when it comes to Rahim Saab and Saira together, they are more like friends. They’re not your typical husband-wife. There’s a very nice dynamic also where Rahim Saab is trying to teach Saira English. And then when need be, she gives him the nudge, and she pulls up the strings at the right place. So, when he narrated, I said, I just looked at my husband and I said, “Really? I’m going to do it.” I think within two to three days after the narration, we did a look test and I started shooting.

Also read: Actress Madhurima Tuli: “People can pull you down, but you have to just move on in life” – EXCLUSIVE!

A film set in a different period, especially when there’s so much attention given to the detailing of that world, might result in a longer wait time before you are called for your shots…

Priya Mani: Amit Sharma as a director is very precise. He doesn’t take too many shots from different angles because he knows the pulse of the scene and what works for the scene. There were some shots that we did in a single take.

Also, we rehearsed a lot. We would do rough rehearsals once the costumes and makeup were done. So, I have practiced with a stand-in for Ajay, sir. Sometimes, I have given suggestions that were incorporated. Amit said, “Do whatever comes naturally to you.” So, we didn’t have to make Ajay (Devgn) sir wait a lot. But he was quite open to doing all the rehearsals himself. Though, as I said, we did the rehearsals with the stand-in, and then Ajay sir came in and he just went with the take.

How did you work on your chemistry with Ajay Devgn?

Priya Mani: I think it was very organic. It just happened. We have never sat together and discussed anything about the characters or scenes. We have just spoken casual stuff. He was interested in knowing about directors in the South. But I think once we were shooting, it just happened very organically. I think on the second day of my shoot when I was just getting to know the set, ambiance, and the working style of Amit Sharma, these guys came to me and they gave me an emotional scene. I looked at my staff and I said, “What the heck? And I’m being given an emotional scene right on the second day.”

I don’t know whether it was the confidence that he had or he knew that we as actors could pull off such a heavy scene. And more so, it was only my dialogues. Ajay sir’s presence itself makes a huge difference. I don’t know about him, but I have not used glycerin. It was all natural. The waterworks just started flowing because of the music that Amit Sharma played while we were shooting the montages.

Also read: Brahmastra actress Rashi Mal: ‘Music is my way of expressing things that I feel deeply about’

What are your expectations from Maidaan’s release?

Priya Mani: I won’t say that I don’t have expectations from the film. Of course, I do. I want this movie to work not only for us as actors but for the makers, especially Boney Kapoor and Amit Sharma. Because more than us, the amount of hard work that they have put in is commendable. With all the problems that have happened in terms of COVID, and then the cyclone. They could have given up on the project if they wanted to. But they didn’t. My husband and I met Boney sir in this very office when he said, “The film will definitely come out.” So, the expectation is that I want the movie to do well for everybody. I just hope it does. And I hope football becomes as popular as cricket is in India.

Do you attribute getting more prominent roles in Hindi cinema to the success of The Family Man?

Priya Mani: In some sort, yes, 100 %. I think The Family Man has given me a lot of visibility. People from everywhere have noticed me in the show. I have to thank Raj and DK for that, also Amazon Prime Video, because they had the conviction that they wanted to take this forward and showcase it on their platform. And this came at a time when OTT was just about coming up.

Also read: Jeetendra: “It was the South Indian filmmakers who vied with one another to boost my sagging morale”

Were you actively trying in the Hindi entertainment industry back then?

Priya Mani: I won’t say I was actively pursuing only Hindi. I wanted to do any good work that came my way, be it Hindi, Tamil, or Telugu. Yes, that was happening simultaneously. Hindi, I was just waiting for something nice to come my way, something good to come my way. I didn’t want to accept it just because it’s a Hindi film. So, I just wanted to do nice work, decent work, whatever came my way at that time. But I think somewhere down the line, I also wanted to wait for The Family Man to come out and then see the possibilities.

You have worked in multiple industries. Every industry has a culture of its own. How has each industry shaped you as a professional actor?

Priya Mani: I think I am what I am because of all the industries. I’m so grateful, so thankful. I started off in Tamil, then I went to Telugu, then I did Malayalam, then I did Kannada, and then I kept doing all four languages, and then finally, Hindi also happened. So, I attributed to all the five industries, all the wonderful directors I’ve worked with, be it the established ones, be it the newcomers, be it a debutant, whoever, and all my co-stars also.