Free Press Journal

“Acting has defined my identity”, says Ekavali Khanna

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Valentine’s Day is long gone, but filmmaker Harish Vyas is all set to rekindle that long lost flame of love and longing in desi style in ‘Angrezi Mein Kehte Hain‘ (AMKH); the film is set to hit the theatres this Friday. Set in Varanasi, the film boasts of real-life characters and offers a sneak peek into the intimate lives of three couples one can relate to, especially for those who are or have ever been in love, and that romance is ageless, not just for the youth. The film features Sanjay Mishra as Yashwant in a romantic lead for the first time in his career with Ekavali Khanna playing his wife, Kiran. The other actors, who are ready to make the audience fall in love with the idea of being in love include Anshuman Jha, Shivani Raghuvanshi, Brijendra Kala and Pankaj Tripathi.

Subtle, yet complex

Apart from the cast and its slice of life story, it is the female protagonist Khanna whose full-length appearance lends a distinctive charm to the film. “It is a lead role in AMKH, but there have been films where I have played the lead, but maybe not with a lengthy on-screen appearance like in Arvind Swamy-starrer Dear Dad. But more than the length of roles, I have taken up parts for the creative satisfaction that comes along with such characters,” says Khanna, who has a great body of work when it comes to regional cinema, especially Bangla.


But more than anything, she tells that AMKH is one film to transport people to the intimate world of its reel characters, and that’s what makes it special. “There’s ample chemistry between the couple, but still not explicitly visible; it is subtle, yet complex. They have been married for 24 years, but not in the love like any other lover, but still there’s a lot of purity in their kind of love,” she says on playing Kiran in AMKH.

Art of craft

The actor, who is based in Kolkata, travels to Mumbai, the city of dreams, for work quite often, and thanks to writers, filmmakers for offering roles that have enriched her professional experience in more than one way. With a string of releases lined up after AMKH including cameos in Veere Di Wedding and Bioscopewala, she says, “I have a deep sense of belonging to the cinema, and I believe that acting has defined my identity.”

She refuses to be a prototype, and that is what works in her favour. Her innate desire to learn contributes to making her the actor that she is today. “There are better actors in Mumbai who are far more beautiful or more accessible than I am. But I am a sincere learner and unusual that got me work. I have been working on myself with dedication and devotion to honing the craft, becoming better with every film. I have to keep at it,” she says on her acting sense and sensibilities.

Act it right

Essaying each part that comes her way with utmost honesty, be it commercial cinema, or parallel cinema, she says, “If there’s honesty in any form of art, one will leave a mark, and create an everlasting impression in the heart and minds of the audience.”

In the run-up to the lead in AMKH, she’s played cameos or roles that were important for the films, but not long ones, but she took them up for the experience that came along. “As an actor, it is my privilege to be a part of such a diverse range, each kind of cinema is like attending a masterclass. I have learned so much from people with whom I have worked so far, and all that has contributed to making me a better actor,” she quips.

The fire in her belly is fuelled by the immense responsibility that comes along. “Essaying a reel character, and bringing a writer’s vision come to life on screen is a big challenge. As an actor, I can transform from an X in one film to Y in another, and that’s my job. It is demanding, and that is what gives me an adrenaline rush,” she adds.

Screen smart

A fan of Gulzar, Basu Chatterjee and Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s kind of cinema, she says, “These filmmakers could engage, involve and entertain the audience. Their works are evergreen and everlasting. Their films are watched with the same enthusiasm even today. The story, characters, dialogues have stayed on with the audience long after the film left theatres, and that’s the power of cinema in the truest form.”

The actor, who has shared screen space with Adil Hussain in What Will People Say, that has been a favourite in the festival circuit, and acted in a Hollywood film The Field by Rohit Karn

Batra wants to stay put in cinema. “I am attracted to this medium. If Indian television grows up, I will embrace it with open arms. I know well that television is a powerful medium and will pay me more too, but it will leave me uncomfortable, and I am not willing to be uncomfortable. In cinema, it is the challenge that comes with every role that I yearn for more to keep myself moving and pacing ahead,” says the actor, who is trying, learning and striving every moment, and happy, proud and inspired to be doing what she is doing.