This pretty girl from Delhi dreamt of being a pilot when she grew up but she was smitten by glam bug when she watched Sushmita Sen and Priyanka Chopra winning laurels for the country! To her dismay, without a mentor or a background in modelling, the glam world remained a distant dream. She set her heart on sports and after almost a decade of hard work, constant practise and persistence, she became the Captain of the Indian Net ball team which represented India in the Common Wealth Games. The Indian team won silver under her captaincy in the South Asian Beach Games and they went on to compete in many Asian championships. But destiny had another plan for this budding sports star. Her long forgotten dream was to be fulfilled when she got an opportunity to face the arch lights for ‘Diya Aur Baati Hum’ on Star Plus! It didn’t take long for this starlet to jump from the mini screen to the silver screen. Ritz catches up with the gorgeous Diva, Prachi Tehlan who makes her debut in Mollywood with ‘Mamangam’ starring Mammootty in the lead!
Text: RIYA SONNY DATSON
Photography: MOJIN THINAVILAYIL
Styling: SHEFEENA K S
Costume: DIVA WOMEN’S CLOTHING STORE
Makeup: SHIVA AND VIJAYLAKSHMI
How did the transition happen from sports to films?
I was always inspired by Sushmita Sen and Priyanka Chopra and wanted to try my hand at beauty pageants but unfortunately my parents never approved of it as they had their reservations about my wearing a swim suit during a pageant. So after my stint with sports, I decided to pursue my MBA in HR and Marketing and landed with a job in Accenture. That’s when I got a call from a production house in Mumbai. I was more than happy to take the jump and thankfully, my parents were ok with my choice at that point of time since I had family in Mumbai (where the shoot was scheduled). So I shifted to Mumbai, leaving my job and my city, not knowing what the future would hold but thankfully, everything fell into place and ‘Diya aur Baati Hum’ became one of the biggest shows on Indian television. I also got a chance to do lead roles in two Punjabi films and another show, ‘Ekyavan’ in Star Plus. It was around this time that I met the Executive producer of ‘Mamangam’ who mentioned about the role. The director met me in Mumbai and asked me to come to Kochi for the audition, which I cleared. And that’s how Unni Maaya in Mamangam happened.
What was your preparation for the role as the language and culture is completely new to you?
Thanks to my long and strenuous years in sports training, I am a quick learner. So I learnt all my dialogues by heart which was much appreciated by director Padmakumar and Mammookka. There were times when I was given the dialogue just fifteen minutes before shoot. It was tough but I guess my sports days have helped me to handle pressure. I am not a trained dancer but I had to do a dance sequence which was a fusion of bharathnatyam, kathak and mohiniyattom. There was no time for rehearsals but I managed to pull it off. The same was the case for my action sequences. I am basically a shy person by nature and have always had stage fright but when I face the camera, some sort of magic happens and I forget all my inhibitions!
How was the experience working with Megastar Mammootty?
I met Mammookka on the third day of shoot and he was extremely nice to me. Contrary to what I expected, he was very warm and we share a very good professional rapport. I remember we used to have long discussions about cinema, his work, interesting characters and films that he would recommend me to watch. During Ramzan, it was very sweet of him to invite me for the Ifthar. As a human being, he tops the list of people who I have immense respect for!
The most challenging part of Mamangam?
The first dance sequence was very challenging as I hadn’t had any previous training in dance. And yes, I learnt Patience as it took almost two years to complete the movie but it has been worth it!
An unforgettable instance on the sets of Mamangam?
It is hard to name any one instance as the entire film has been a beautiful journey for me. But yes, I recall that the last day of shoot was very overwhelming. As I left the sets with my colleague, I remember tears streaming down my cheeks. Even after I reached my hotel room that had a view of the film set, all the fond memories of the shoot flashed across my eyes and I couldn’t control my tears.
Any projects in the pipeline?
Yes, I have signed up for a Telugu project and talks are on for a few Malayalam projects.
Interests outside of Cinema?
Playing squash, badminton, reading, traveling and music.
What keeps you going? Who is your inspiration?
I want to achieve a lot in life in terms of my career, traveling with my family, doing something substantial for society especially when it comes to sports, help the underprivileged by associating with NGOs (which I am already doing). Priyanka Chopra is a person who inspires me a lot. I think her achievements are really extraordinary, something that is really difficult for any Indian woman to do and I really look upto her.
Am a foodie and I love trying different kinds of food, which tends to backfire sometimes. Sports is always fun and I love swimming and playing outdoors but unfortunately that leaves me with a tan, so I don’t have an option but to hit the gym! So everyday, I try to spend an hour or two at the gym.
Biggest Fear: Losing my loved ones
An Obsession: Books and Stationary
If not Cinema and Sports: I would be an Artist
Makeup Essentials: Sunscreen, Mascara, lip balm, lip and cheek tint
I can’t do without: My phone
I love: Food
Dream Role: A hard core romantic role and a sports biopic
Favourite Holiday: Any place that has mountains
On My Bucket List: Traveling around the world with my family and owning a home in five destinations namely on a mountain, a metropolitan, a beach, down South and in my native, Haryana.