'I don't know how to handle children'
Madhuri Bhattacharya, model-turned-actress, is winning accolades for her deglamourised look in her third Kannada film Prasad. Madhuri, who has acted in two other Kannada films, Khushi and Bisi Bisi, shot to fame recently for dancing to the popular item number Tinku Jiya alongside Dharmendra and Bobby Deol in the Hindi film Yamla Pagla Deewana.
Madhuri has also modelled for two videos of Sonu Nigam from his album Neene Bari Neene.
In Prasad, she plays the mother of a boy who is speech and hearing impaired. She talks about the film and what went into her role, in this interview with Srikanth Srinivasa.
What is your role in Prasad?
I play Malathi, the mother of a seven-year-old child who is deaf and dumb by birth.
My husband is very pious and God-fearing and wants a son who will look after him in his old age. He prays for a son and when he gets one he is not able to accept that the child is deaf. The mother accepts her child's disability silently. The movie is about how the father loses faith in God, disowns his child, but comes around to loving his son eventually.
How was the child selected to play this role?
The child Sankalp was selected from a speech and hearing school in Mumbai. The director, Manoj Sati, who has worked as an assistant director in many Hindi films, is from Mumbai.
He was of the opinion that we should not get an actor to play the boy's role. He wanted a child who is really speech and hearing impaired.
Image: Madhuri Bhattacharya
'I learnt sign language for three months'
How did you establish a relationship with the child?
I am not used to being with children. I don't know how to handle children. I don't know how mothers handle them. I never paid attention to these things. I used to meet Sankalp and hang out with him. He was not interested in becoming friends with me because he didn't know what was happening.
After five or six visits, he started to like me. When he was told that I was his mother, he refused to acknowledge it. He has not spoken a word in the film but his eyes are so expressive that your heart will melt in some of the scenes.
What homework did you do for the film?
I learnt sign language for three months. I attended classes to be able to communicate with the child. There was a refresher course where people from the school would come home to teach more things.
I used to observe how the children responded and what they used to learn. I also wanted to know how the teachers teach as I play a teacher along the way in the movie.
I used to communicate with mothers who used to visit the institute to initially get to know about the whole thing.
Image: A scene from Prasad