Urmilaa Mahanta is one of the very few actors from Northeast India who has been able to leave a mark in Mumbai and also with the South Indian movies – be it Hindi, Tamil or Malayalam.
Her very first movie – ‘Vazhakku Enn 18/9’, a Tamil language film in 2012 – won two national awards besides winning other laurels.
Apart from that, she has featured in ‘Pad Man’ with Akshay Kumar, in ‘Manjhi’ with Nawazuddin Siddiqui, in ‘Akira’ with Sonakshi Sinha, Konkona Sen Sharma and Anurag Kashyap and recently Urmila was seen in ‘Dial 100’ with Manoj Bajpayee. She also worked with the Majid Majidi in ‘Beyond the Clouds’.
Now, the Sonapur-born actor is waiting for the release of her latest Assamese film ‘Guwahati Diaries’ on July 15. Urmilaa who is now based in Mumbai spoke to The News Mill ahead of her latest film’s release.
Under Prahar Production, this film is directed by Prasant Saikia and produced by Pranita Saikia. The film also features Barsha Rani Bishaya, Udayan Duarah, Naaz Sultana, Arghadeep Barua, Ranjeev Lal Barua, Hemanta Debnath and Mintu Baruah among others.
Some of the excerpts:
The News Mill: How hopeful you are with ‘Guwahati Diaries’?
Urmilaa Mahanta: I’m quite optimistic about the ‘Guwahati Diaries’. I hope it will be a new addition to the Assamese film industry.
TNM. How was the experience working with the film?
Urmilaa: It was very special. I always look for different types of characters to explore and experiment with. This film gave me the opportunity to play a different kind of character on screen for the very first time… a different shade altogether as this film is based on real-life events. I strongly feel all of us can relate to the characters.
TNM: You have been very choosy in selecting the films. Even in Mumbai, you don’t do all kinds of films. So tell me what made you decide to work for ‘Guwahati Diaries’?
Urmilaa: Glad you notice that. Yes, I always look forward to new challenges and ‘Guwahati Diaries’ offered me the exact opportunity, so I chose to do the film. I’m really hopeful that people will see a never-seen-before avatar of me and I hope they will accept it wholeheartedly!
TNM: Tell us something about your character.
Urmilaa: I’m playing a struggling ambitious actress in the movie who comes from a small town of Assam to Guwahati city with bags of dreams and expectations.
She wants to make a mark in the film industry but a few of her decisions and choices make her life miserable. Her journey is my part in the film.
TNM: You have been a part of some of the fantastic films made by the young generation of Assamese filmmakers. Your thought on them.
Urmilaa: It is my good fortune to be a part of these films made by our new-age filmmakers who are doing some incredibly fantastic work. They are doing some experimental work which is great.
I always wanted to see this change in Assamese films and I’m glad this is happening. And that’s the only reason I’m working in Assamese films.
I’m extremely proud to see the new-age filmmakers in Assam and they have been able to leave a mark in the global platforms. They are coming with so many new concepts and new ideas. It surely indicates a positive growth for our film industry.
TNM: So far how many Assamese films you have worked with?
Urmilaa: I have worked with at least 10 Assamese films so far. But only four were released. ‘Guwahati Diaries’ will be my fifth Assamese to get released.
TNM: Also tell us something about your new projects.
Urmilaa: Due to COVID-19 cases in Mumbai, my next Bollywood movie got postponed. My latest Hindi film is ‘Powai’, where I’m playing one of the main protagonists Ataashi, an IT professional.
Recently our movie won the best screenplay award at the prestigious New York Indian Film Festival, 2022.
Apart from films, I have done a few television commercials for major brands like Vicks with renowned director Anand Gandhi, Tanishq Diamond Jewellery, IIFL with Rohit Sharma, Bharat Matrimony and Meesho app.
I have also recently finished shooting for my next Malayalam film ‘Oru Vattam Koodi’ in Kerala and ‘Mini’ in Assamese.
Talks are on for my next projects in Bollywood and South.