Director Majid Majidi’s Beyond The Clouds, which releases on April 20, marks Ishaan Khatter’s debut. His co-star Malavika Mohanan made her debut in the film industry with the Dulquer Salmaan-starrer Pattam Pole in 2013. This is, however, her first Hindi movie. Ahead of its release, they spoke to Film Companion about what working with the acclaimed director was like and how they feel ahead of their big break. Here are some excerpts from the conversation:
ON WORKING WITH MAJID MAJIDI
Ishaan: I think at first I felt extremely fortunate that I got to work under him in any capacity. When this opportunity came, there was no time to register what this meant to me. It startles you. I knew what he means to cinema but only after meeting him did I release why he makes the films he makes. He has this remarkable aura about him. It’s quite overwhelming. I felt very secure. I felt I could ride on his wing.
Malavika: I came on board 15 days before the shooting so there was no time for it to sink in. The entire week I was prepping at Dhobi Ghat. It was so surreal that it sunk in only after the movie got over. It was a completely magical.
ON MAJIDI’S STYLE OF DIRECTION
Malavika: His direction for every scene is very different. There’s no pattern. It’s very instinctive. I think he reads you as a person – where you come from, what your psychology is. For some scenes he told me exactly what he wanted and some times he told me nothing and I was getting very anxious. As an actor it keeps you very alert. It’s very raw and unrehearsed.
Ishaan: He’s very adaptable as a director. I remember times when I’ve walked up to him because you expect instructions and he’ll just be like What? Just go do it? It’s very unnerving. You feel like you’re out there in the wild on your own. He doesn’t have a fixed process.
ON WHAT THEY LEARNT FROM HIM
Malavika: Apart from the craft, one of the most amazing things I’ve learnt has been his work ethic. You need to be on time and know your dialogues. He wants everyone to be prepared. He likes everyone’s energies to be focused on the film.
Ishaan: Faith. Before we went on the floor he spoke about striving to be a better human being. He said I know you want to be a good actor but don’t forget about being a good human being. All his films are also about humanity. This reassured me about the person I want to be in the future. It was a holistic learning experience.
ON RETAINING THEIR INNOCENCE ON THE CUSP OF STARDOM
Ishaan: I think it’s important to hold on to your set of values and stay connected to who you are before you become a public figure. This is the first time I am promoting a film and I have to talk about the film in a responsible way. But it’s important to be an ordinary person if you want to be an extraordinary actor. Fame and success are fleeting and it’s important to hold on to what matters. What’s most exciting for me is to explore different characters within myself. Everything interests me. Acting is a great profession for people with ADHD.