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Plabita Borthakur, aka Manu,is not only an actress but also a singer for the band Manu & Chow (MnC). Her father Probeen Borthakur would teach classical music and her mother would recite poems in her mother tongue, Assamese.So since childhood art and culture had been her constant companion. She has done a number of commercials and made her debut by playing the role of Anushka Sharma's sister in the Bollywood film PK. It was a small role but she agreed to do it because the veteran Rajkumar Hirani was directing the film. Her upcoming film Lipstick Under My Burkha premieres at the Tokyo Film Festival, followed by screenings at Mumbai Film Festival (MFF) where it is competing in the India Gold segment. Here is small interview with her.
1. Tell us was about your family background. Your father is a Classical music teacher & your mother is a writer and poet. How did they help to shape your career choices?
PB: Knowing of my parents' background and interest in the arts, it was natural that I had an affinity towards something related to it. And therefore, ever since I've known, I have always only wanted to act, and take up the challenge of portraying different emotions, characters, moods, situations. I think it is a great feeling when you see yourself being someone else, especially when you manage to convince someone (even if temporarily), that you are someone, you're not.
2. How was your journey from the Duliajan to Mumbai. Did you face any odds in becoming the person you are today?
PB: Amidst minor challenges that any aspirer faces in a city like Mumbai, I consider myself lucky to have been able to find ground relatively easily, thanks to my elder sisters who had already moved into the city, years before I did.The city, took its own twists and turns in teaching me a thing or two about sustainence and being self-reliant.
3. What made you join the acting course with Barry John acting studio and do you think that a formal education in acting is neccesary?
PB: No amount of learning is ever enough, not just in acting, but in any field one may choose. My objective of joining Barry John's acting studio, was to set directions for myself, understand the basics and nuances of acting, and a kickstart to the ceaseless learning I wouldwant to undergo, in my journey to get better at what I do.
4. Your two sisters are also a part of the film Industry. Tell us about your relation with your sisters and how did they help you in your decision to join the entertainment industry in Mumbai?
PB: As a kid, I would be forever excited to watch my eldest sister, Parineeta, on screen. I would dress up as her, speak like her, impersonate her to unimaginable extent. Her confidece and elegance rubbed on me, I think. (Okay, elegance, not as much as her, I suppose).My other sister Priyangi, and I, used to share a love-cum-sibling-hate relationship. We were usually found at loggerheads until someone came and got us apart.When I moved to Mumbai, (and we'd grown up by then), I had found more than a sister in her – a confidante, a guide and a friend.Both of them have helped immensely in suporting me, my career choices, and making me the person I am, today.
5. Which was your first commercial and how do you find working in the advertisements?
PB: I think advertisement assignments are a lot of fun! Everytime, it is a new setup, a new character, and new people around you!My first commercial was a nice gig for Kelvinator refrigerators. Unfortunately, the ad never saw the light of day.
6. How did you perceive the transition that is happening in the domain of feature films today?
PB: I adore the way cinema has changed today. It is gradually moving from the quintessential song &dance and drama mode, to being character & content driven. The transition was not really a transition. The commercials are still an ongoing part of my daily life. I have been lucky to have been part of a couple of meaningful films already.
7. Tell us about your band Manu & Chow (MnC)?
PB: Pranab (also known as Chow and singer / co-founder of the band) and I would go to jam sessions at musicians' and friends' places in Mumbai, and come up with random tunes by the end of it. Some of them did sound like they could be turned into full-fledged songs.There was no looking back, once we were convinced. We called a few common friends Ambar (Guitars), Amit (Bass), Crehyl (Keyboards), Viru (Drums), they all agreed, and we set off on this rollercoaster ride called MnC.For now, we've performed a few shows in and around Mumbai / Pune. We soon want to take it to the next level, once our personal commitments allow us some time and space. We even did a self-produced / self-directed music video of an original song, called P. It is available on Youtube and as a free download!
8. Would you be interested in doing a film with northeast filmmakers, taking into considerations the budgets of films in this region?
PB: I have lately seen Northeast (mostly Assam) filmmakers take a huge leap, and go on to make some tremendous films. Movies like Kothanodi and Doordarshan were hitherto, concepts that were unheard of, nor imaginable.Of course, if I do come by any project worth my while, I'll take it up.