Heeramandi: Manisha Koirala was told to watch Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders to perfect Mallikajaan’s ‘cold gaze’

Actor Manisha Koirala, who is currently seen in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Heeramandi, has opened up about her preparation for playing the sinister and aloof Mallikajaan, the matriarch of the courtesan establishment. Manisha recounted seeking references and being advised to watch Cillian Murphy’s Peaky Blinders, which eventually helped her. She also revealed that Rekha was initially slated for her role nearly two decades ago, and shared Rekha’s response to her interpretation in the series.

In an interview with Filmygyan, Manisha said that it was not easy getting into the character of Mallikajaan. She said, “To bring in the realism, you can’t put the character in the box. So I had to figure and navigate it. I think even after doing a few scenes, I was still in the process of navigating.”

Manisha continued, “I was asking his (Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s) very good assistant, ‘Mita, do you think there is some reference?’ She told me ‘Manisha, watch Peaky Blinders.’So I watched Peaky Blinders and picked a few things, especially the actor’s, the hero’s cold gaze. I said if I can get that it would be fabulous because personally I have never come across anyone like Mallikajaan.”

Talking about Rekha, Manisha said that she received a call from her after the premiere. Rekha told Manisha, “Bachcha, I was praying that if I don’t do this role, you should do it. My prayers have come true. You have done it marvelously; you have gone through so much in life and you have brought life to the character.” Manisha added, “She was telling me that 18-20 years ago, she was offered this role.”

At the Los Angeles premiere of the series, SLB said that 18 years ago, the cast included Rekha, Kareena Kapoor, and Rani Mukerji. Then it changed to Mahira Khan, Imran Abbas, and Fawad Khan from Pakistan before finalizing the current cast. Heeramandi is currently streaming on Netflix.

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