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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Life After Manikarnika: Ankita Lokhande Talks Acting, Aspirations & Survival

Ankita Lokhande stole our hearts as Archana in Ekta Kapoor’s Pavitra Rishta series on Zee TV.

On the show, we got to see a self-discovery journey of a woman who overcame all weaknesses and hardships to make life work for her and the family.

In some ways, that also seems to be the story of Ankita. Since childhood, she dreamt of being an actor and eventually fulfilled this wish at all costs. 

Perhaps it is this sincere passion that has contributed towards her impressive debut in Kangana Ranaut’s historical drama, Manikarnika. 

For her first ever role, she had to learn horse-riding and sword fighting. Despite the difficult training, her performance comes across as seamless.

Through her supporting character of Jhalkaribai, a soldier and confidante of Rani Laxmibai, Ankita proved that it is about the quality of a role, rather than the quantity.

It has been a few months since the film released but we recently caught up with Ankita Lokhande to discuss her future plans and aspirations. 

Your debut performance in Manikarnika has been loved and appreciated. Has this reception and the role itself lived up to your expectations?

I didn’t expect this much reception from my side.

After doing a television series for six years and then being launched in such a big movie, I was nervous and excited at the same time.

I was getting a lot of other offers as a lead role, but I was very fascinated by the character.

As an actor, I think it is important to play good roles. I might get a chance to play the main lead in any other film, but I won’t get to play this.

I definitely was not expecting the appreciation that I got and I’m grateful that people appreciated my performance.

I am very happy.

What did you learn the most from playing a valiant character like Jhalkaribai? In what way has it changed you as a person?

Jhalkaribai was the character to play and a great one to do a debut with that was the only reason why I did Manikarnika.

When you play such characters, they are so devoted and passionate about what they do.

I got to know that Jhalkaribai was a fighter who never gave up on anything. She was so dedicated to her love and passion towards her country and of course, Rani Laxmibai. She was so loyal.

That is what I’ve learnt.

I believe that I’m a fighter too and I’ve learnt that honesty towards everything in life.

How (if at all) did the controversy post the movie’s release impact you?

I would say that I’ve been very easy on this.

The controversy never distracted or phased me regarding the film’s outcome.

When things around you are so negative, you have to keep yourself positive and that’s what I did as we were working continuously when the controversies were happening.

I was very confident that this was my debut and it has to do well.

It’s up to oneself. We all were working together and the energy that comes together is what matters to me.

Of course, working with good actors influence you a lot.

In addition to yourself, other Marathi-cultured actresses like Mrunal Thakur and Pooja Sawant who made their Bollywood debuts recently. You must be so proud?

I talk to Mrunal all the time. We always say ‘Jai Maharashtra’ and it feels good! (Laughs).

It’s not just Marathi people, but other actors from the television itself like Mouni Roy and Radhika Madan are now entering cinema.

Television is very difficult to do and we girls are proving it. I’m really proud of it.

Whatever I’ve learnt from television is what I’m giving to Bollywood. All of us girls are proud of it.

There is a rise in female-oriented content. You must be quite excited to enter Bollywood during such a time?

It’s the perfect time to make a debut and to get into movies. As I said, people want to see good content.

The scripts nowadays are mostly female oriented and that’s the power. In fact, I’m getting scripts which mainly focus on woman power.

As for gender equality in cinema, I think it is very important. We are getting closer to it.

Right now, the films being made have a focus on strong female characters as well as the stereotypical male hero.

There will be a day where there will be no comparison between men and women. Why do we even need to prove it in the first place?

We all are talented humans and capable of doing what we wish to.

Gender equality should not even be a question.

After doing television and now films, do you feel there has been a ‘transition’ for you as an actor?

For me, the word ‘transition’ is a question itself. I didn’t really think about it.

I was just working on my project like the serial. I never had to think too much about going to Bollywood and things like that.

It’s all about your work. You just have to concentrate on that.

The time just came where I thought I should try my luck at getting into Bollywood.

Till today, I have no idea whether (or not) there has been a smooth transition into Hindi cinema because I don’t know what is happening on the outside.

With regards to whatever I’m doing right now, I am just happy with my journey and content that I am doing well for myself.

Whatever happens in the future, I’m going to give it my best shot.

How did you adapt to the different style of filmmaking?

Usually acting on TV is so spontaneous. You have to learn your lines and go through everything on the set. You have no time to go back to the vanity van and take a rest.

You have no time and must perform instantly for the show to be telecasted in the evening.

In films, you still have some time to prepare for the character and put in a lot of hard work into it.

There isn’t that flexibility in television.

However, despite that, people are still successful at what they do.

Television teaches you so much as an actor.

When doing Pavitra Rishta, did you ever feel afraid of being typecast as a daily soap ‘bahu’?

No, not at all. I’ve never felt that I will get typecast for something.

I knew my power and potential. Pavita Rishta was my baby and I felt that I was being so honest and dedicated to my job.

When you’re honest towards a cause, you will always receive that back in some sort of way.

The series has given me that back through Manikarnika.

I’m not concerned whether people will (or not) accept me as a Bollywood actor or continue to bracket me as a ‘TV Actor’.

At the end of the day, my job is to just provide good films and that’s the only thing I am focusing on.

It’s okay if people still think that I am a television actor. I’m proud of it.

I am who I am because of television.

Do you feel doing reality shows as Jhalak Dikhla Jaa helped you in breaking that ‘bahu’ image?

Oh yes, exactly. Reality shows really help to show the real you.

When people saw my dance performances on Jhalak Dikhla Jaa, they saw a really different side to me.

They didn’t see my character ‘Archana’ there. They saw me as Ankita Lokhande.

This really helped me a lot.

Mixing personal with professional life is an unhealthy combination. But this happens a lot in the industry. How have you prepared yourself for this?

You can’t really prepare for this. I believe that you just have to be real.

There are a lot of people who I will meet and know in this industry, but it’s okay to be cordial and just give a smile to each other.

The more I try to avoid something or someone, the more I will face it.

I’m not the kind of person to run away from the situation. I would rather face it with a smile.

(As, if and when) it comes to working with a certain individual, I wouldn’t talk about it right now.

I’ve not even thought about it.

If something happens, you will definitely get to know.

You were discovered through a talent-hunt reality show and now you’re amongst established star kids. What is going to be your approach to make a successful career?

My only approach is to do good for myself.

It’s a very big and competitive world out there where everyone is just in a race to win and reach the top.

I have no such expectations or wishes.

I just want to work hard on myself and do good work. Myself alongside some of the other girls landed in this industry, so we just appreciate it.

For me, it has been my childhood dream to become a heroine.

When I was in the third standard, I was dreaming about what I am doing right now.

So I’m not in any race. I am happy with whatever I do.

Ultimately, it’s up to me regarding the body of work I choose to do.

I am aware that there will be a lot of competition, but I don’t think about anyone else being a competition.

My only competition is myself. I want to compete with my own childhood dream, in which I need to prove that this is a reality.

After doing a grand historical film, what style of roles are you keen on exploring? Is there anything you’re particularly interested in?

I would love to do a proper commercial Bollywood film.

I don’t want to leave a chance where I can wear a sari and dance around the trees… That’s Bollywood for me (laughs).

I’ve grown up seeing this.

I would like to explore mainstream and commercial films where it gives me the ‘heroine wala’ feeling.

Of course, I am also keen to explore more content-oriented roles. I’ve done Jhalkaribai and people got inspired my character.

So I want to do good things that continue to inspire and motivate people in life.

Whichever film I do, I want to send out a message so people can understand that we are not just acting, we believe in the subject.

There are a few scripts that I’m reading. Let’s hope for the best!

Listen to the full interview with Ankita Lokhande here:


Overall, to break through into the Indian film industry is a mission in itself.

However, Ankita’s optimism and motivation is an inspiration to many current and budding actors out there.

Ankita Lokhande proves that dreams can come true if only you are dedicated and motivated.

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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