We had an articulate chat with the self-made, confident and passionate – Pranutan Bahl.  Since her debut film ‘Notebook’ has hit the marquee, she talks to us about her journey, how it’s an ultimate high for her to be in front of the camera, the message she has for the readers amidst much more…

Coming from a filmy background, do you feel any pressure?
No, I don’t view it as pressure; I am taking it as a responsibility on my shoulders. Because I think if you start viewing things as pressure then you have a negative approach to it. But the minute you take it as a responsibility then you take it in your stride and you view it as encouragement; and I really do. I think, to be born among actors, that too such great ones, is truly a blessing. So let’s better yourself in your craft and be positive about it, because otherwise it will take you back and that’s not a good thing.

 What do you think of ‘Notebook’ as you debut film in terms of its content?
It is a very real story; you wouldn’t find Zaheer or me doing anything which is a quintessential debut. That’s because I have never viewed it as a debut, I don’t like putting these parameters around me. I think I am an actor and I want to do everything. And this is something my director told me that – “You are very brave to have chosen a debut like ‘Notebook’”.    And that’s when it struck me that – ‘Oh my god’, the launchpad starts. I never thought about it and told my director that this has never crossed my mind. Because this is the story I am so connected to, it makes so much happen in my heart. And he said, ‘that’s your innocence and keep it intact.’

How content are you feeling on the completion of your first film, how was it to be on sets?
My spirit is alive in front of the camera, that’s when I am the happiest. I feel very sweet when I say this because the emotion is so beautiful; it is like the ultimate high for me to be in front of the camera.  Even the promotions, since it’s a part of my job, I feel so passionate about it and I am enjoying myself. I can work 24×7 and I believe, it comes from a lot of passion for what I am doing.  And a lot of happiness and gratitude for where I am because I really, really wanted this all of life. So I value everything, whether it’s being on sets or giving an interview.  I value the fact that you have taken out the time and come to interview me when I have actually not done much in life.  So, I take these things very, very seriously and it’s the ultimate high. I am the happiest on the film set and nothing can beat that. If anyone will ask me if want to go on a vacation or on a shoot, I will definitely say – let’s shoot.

In this case has the feeling of being an actor sunk in?
I wouldn’t want to say that till the time I am accepted by the audiences. I don’t think by doing one film you can say I am an actor. But some things somewhere have sunk in and changed. Since I have lived with ‘Notebook’ for nine months, it’s not been like it’s a recent affair.  And it’s been a very extensive process to remove Pranutan little bit to get in Firdous.  As I had a director like Nitin Kakkar who is very particular about everything and doesn’t let go, I love that about him.

How did the journey of ‘Notebook’ begin for you?
I basically graduated law and I knew I wanted to be an actor. I had given auditions at every single casting office that there is, for two and a half years, basically until ‘Notebook’. Since 2016 I was giving auditions and I never used to write my surname, I only use to write ‘Pranutan’ because I didn’t want any connection. I didn’t want to be shortlisted because I am so and so daughter or granddaughter. Because I believe that you should deserve it, you should be worthy enough to be in front of the camera. Just because you are born to a family of legendary people, it doesn’t mean you have it in you or you have the X factor, or you have the talent or you have the potential. As I always say – to give you an analogy, you want to be a lawyer but you don’t want to give the CLAT (Common Law Admission Test) because your dad is a barrister. So, this doesn’t work for me and my system. Thousands of people want to be actors and they all come in and give auditions and I don’t think I have yet done anything great. I find it awkward in fact when people don’t give auditions. Recently a friend of mine told me that so and so has never given an audition in their life and I was amazed by it.  I am little opposite in this case; I have never told my dad in my life or my aunt or any friend of mine to make a call for me to set up an audition. Never!

What is the piece of advice your dad gave you before entering the film industry? Also, does his past experience teach you a lesson?
Yes, definitely. In fact when I did told him right before I graduated that I am 100% sure that I am pursuing acting now.  He said, “Yes sure.  But be ready for failure, for success and take everything with a pinch of salt because that’s how it is. Whether you like it or not, it is going to happen. You are going to rise and you are going to fall, just take it in your stride.” So, yes! Of course! And that’s the thing he is very particular about. And he would say that, ‘to maintain your humility, to maintain your ground, keep in touch with your friends.’ Because it will happen; you tend to be very focus and it’s true now that I am busy doing promotions since early morning where do I have the time to return a call. But he always tells me to make the time, call up that friend who called you because that’s how you are going to be in touch with reality, with your real self. He keeps reminding me, this is a job, treat it like a job; don’t get carried away with the attention and fame and he is right because it might mess your heard somewhere.

What is your acting process like?
I just had workshops with my acting coach Hemant Kher for ‘Notebook’ and he told me that he can teach me everything to be a better version of myself but he can’t teach me how to act (Laughs). And he is right, because that is something a lot of people say and I also believed in that. How can one tell me how to act? It’s just a subjective thing. So, I am glad he is like that; he is my go to person for everything and I call him my life coach.  We actually concentrated on a lot of breathing, mediation, calming ourselves, learning focus and disciple.  Little, little things like how would my character Firdous react to something; he made me write Firdous’s childhood, her history, her favorite color and things like these which were amazing, I still have those books (Smiles).

Last words on ‘Notebook’?
Ah! It’s made with a lot of love and fresh energy. Please forgive the flaws; I know there will be because it is our first film.  But whatever the little mistake is, please forgive us and we will work really hard; we promise the audience. Just give us the love constantly because love keeps you going so it will keep me going. And I would like to thank everyone for the overwhelming response ya’ll gave to us, to me and to everything connected to ‘Notebook’. Trade Magazine