'I didn't have to try too hard to be Jessica'
Interpreting the argumentative character that film director Raj Kumar Gupta had developed of Jessica Lal didn't really pose as a grave challenge to pull off, for first time actress Myra Karn, (who played Jessica in No One Killed Jessica) primarily because she could spot striking similarities in the persona between the two of them.
Also, she claims this was the reason she was picked up to play the part of the model-bartender.
Not the type who'd crackle up at the absurdity of Hindi comedies, or get overly engrossed in fabricated drama, Myra is intrigued by the cinematic delineation of the realities of life.
Overwhelmed by the critical praise for her part, Myra converses with Ankur Pathak on her characteristic resemblance to Lal, and also emphasis on preserving the element of humanity. Read on.
How has life changed post Jessica's release?
Well, congratulatory messages have been pouring in. People loved my performance. The one big change is that I've been getting umpteen numbers of Facebook requests, and a lot of mention on Twitter. Some say, they went to see the film six and seven times just to catch the little bit of my role. I am overwhelmed.
Before the film was even conceived, how closely did you follow the Jessica Lal murder case?
I had heard about it but I'd say I knew little. I had always seen it flashing only on the news channels and newspapers. I just paid a passing glance. So, did I follow it closely? No.
Image: Myra Karn
'I was not keen on playing Jessica Lal'
How did you get the part?
There were no auditions taken. While Raj was working on the script, he had mentioned that his character was very much inspired and he had this certain feeling that I'd fit the bill perfectly. He persuaded me to give it a shot since I had said no and that because I'm not an actress. He still kept insisting and that's when I read the script. I was totally blown away. I mean, it was an awesome piece and everybody is aware how talented and gifted Raj Kumar Gupta is. So I had to say yes, and I must say I'm glad I agreed to be a part of this project.
Did you know the director already?
Oh, yes, yes, I knew him. You know, like friends. That's why he asked me to play the part because he was aware of how my nature was, which he found quite similar to the character he had developed.
So, what were you doing before this film came up?I am already an engineer. I was preparing for the CAT examinations for my MBA. So, you can say I'm very well qualified to be an actress [laughs].
Image: Vidya Balan, Myra Karn and Rani Mukerji
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar
'Vidya and I bonded like two sisters on sets'
While filming, how well did you bond with Vidya Balan?
Very, very nicely, she is such a good-hearted and brilliant person. We bonded like two sisters on sets and she really supported and encouraged me to a great extent. Keeping in mind that I was a newcomer, she was extremely warm and sweet to me.
In actual life, are you very fond of realistic cinema?
Yes, I am. That is the only genre of cinema which intrigues me a lot. It is one factor that highly influences me and also interests me in buying a ticket for a movie.
I'm not an out and out movie buff but I'm a hard-core fan of realistic cinema. Rest all the genres might follow, like comedy and action, but for me to watch good stuff is to watch films that shake you from within, most likely they are films that depict reality. Say for last year, Peepli Live was the best film to come out; I think it was very cute.
Okay. Ever had any bad experiences with the law?
Fortunately, no. Nothing even remotely has ever occurred which would create a need for me to visit the police station. Lucky, me!
Image: Vidya Balan in No One Killed Jessica
'I'm more into intelligent cinema than the melodramatic stuff'
How many film offers have poured in?
There are a couple of them right now, but I'm taking my own sweet time to be sure. Firstly, I would like to believe that the compliments I've received are genuine and not just flattery.
Would you continue to pick up cinema that is issue-based and is highly socially relevant?
No, not necessarily. I guess I'm more into intelligent cinema than the melodramatic stuff. So yes, issue-based could get more of my attention. But I'd rather be convinced about the script and of course the director and the genre. Story of the film is my priority.
Personally, as a woman, what precautions do you take to avoid any provocative incidents?
See, in Jessica's case, I don't think she did anything provocative. Why this case became so sensational wasn't because Jessica was provocative, it was because the man behaved in an extremely savage manner.
I think we need to be highly responsible and behave in a civilised manner, irrespective of the gender. So, I won't go on giving instructions only to women to behave in a certain manner. Everyone should be civilised. We shouldn't forget that we are humans.
Image: Rani Mukerji in No One Killed Jessica
'I'm a pretty bold girl'
Daring, impulsive and hot headed like Jessica or calm, restrained and cautious like Sabrina. Which one is Myra Karn more like?
I'm seriously more like Jessica or totally like her, and that also happens to be the reason why my director insisted me to portray her, and I did just that, because I didn't have to try too hard. It was all within me [laughs].
So, if somebody's passes a nasty comment, are you going to grab him and bash him up?
[Laughs] No, no. That part could be slightly sobered down. I wouldn't go on beating whosoever, but it is true that I'm a pretty bold girl and wouldn't take any nonsense lightly. I'd surely give it back to him.
Image: A scene from No One Killed Jessica