Actress Mouni Roy on Bollywood summer blockbuster ‘Brahmastra’: 'It’s a huge film and the biggest I've ever done'

The film is part of a planned trilogy spanning 10 years

Indian actress Mouni Roy recently completed her shoot for Bollywood blockbuster 'Brahmastra'. Courtesy Spread Communications
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For Bollywood, the pandemic was not so much of a stop as it was a pause. The thriving industry, renowned for its Herculean output, is back in earnest with a stream of high-profile films resuming production, such as Shah Rukh Khan's Pathan and Bell Bottom, starring Akshay Kumar, after the pandemic suspended shoots in March last year.

One film that Bollywood executives are banking on to cement a box office resurgence is Brahmastra. Similar to the epic Christopher Nolan production Tenet in Hollywood, the lavish Hindi science-fiction film, made on an estimated budget of three billion rupees ($41 million), has similar expectations to bring Indian crowds flocking to cinemas upon its release in the summer.

As the first of a planned 10-year trilogy by director Ayan Mukerji and produced by Karan Johar, the film features an all-star cast led by Bollywood titans Amitabh Bachchan, Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt, with scenes shot in London, New York and Bulgaria.

With plot details under wraps – though, in 2018, Kapoor did say it is a "romantic fairy tale in a supernatural format" – Brahmastra is shaping up to be one of the most important films in Bollywood history.

Actress Mouni Roy, known for her acclaimed role in 2018's Gold, alongside Kumar, is more than aware of the hype. Playing a supporting role in Brahmastra, she recently wrapped up her commitments for the production.

While unable to reveal additional details about the storyline or filming locations, she confirms Brahmastra is indeed a big deal and will land on the big screen soon.

"It is a huge film and certainly the biggest I have been involved in," she says. "I finished up my shoot in December, and at that stage there were still a few more scenes to shoot. So the film should go to post-­production soon."

The new normal

A big-budget film comes with a massive crew, and Roy says creating a Covid-19-safe set required a certain amount of synergy. "We followed all the rules and regulations," she says. "Every film department had a different holding area with a limited number of people around on set at the same time. Everybody and all departments had to work in tandem and follow protocol."

Roy predicts some of these new and efficient production workflows will become a permanent feature of the industry moving forward. "This is the new world and there are new ways of working, and we are adapting every day," she says.

“That process of art creation, from directors, cameramen, actors and screenwriters, will keep going, and will find new and different ways in keeping with government rules and regulations.”

New stories being told

While Indian cinemas reopened last October after a seven-month closure, Roy points to the quality content available on streaming platforms as proof of the creative fires still burning in Bollywood.

With critically acclaimed series such as crime dramas Sacred Games and Mirzapur streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video respectively, she says the growth of online platforms has encouraged innovative content from studios.

"And this was happening before the pandemic and goes back, I would say, the last five or six years," Roy says.

"I have been seeing a lot of more eccentric and offbeat movies and scripts written, and mainstream actors being good enough to take the challenge. This is not only endearing, but also a blessing as an actor that so many different stories are being written and they are being accepted."

That said, nothing beats the pleasure of watching these stories on the big screen. During her three-month stay in Dubai last year, Roy says she attended the opening screening of Tenet in August, marking the first time she had watched a new film in cinema in four months.

"The moment they opened the theatres here, I was one of the first to go and watch it," Roy says. "Just that feeling of sitting in a theatre and watching that screen filled me with such happiness. I have been a film lover since I was a child, so I am eagerly waiting for everything to go back to the way it used to be."