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Each and every scene in Chandramukhi was challenging, says Mrunmayee Deshpande

The actress plays the wife of Addinath Kothare's politician in the film directed by Prasad Oak.

Mrunmayee Deshpande and Addinath Kothare in Chandramukhi

Keyur Seta

Prasad Oak’s directorial venture Chandramukhi (2022) stars Amruta Khanvilkar and Addinath Kothare. But the film also features Mrunmayee Deshpande playing the important character of Damayanti aka Dolly Deshmane, wife of the politician Daulatrao Deshmane played by Kothare.

During a recent conversation with Cinestaan.com, Deshpande spoke at some length about her character in the film. “She is a very strong woman," the actress said. "She is polished and hails from a rich family. She is the backbone of Daulat. She and her father play a major role in making his career. It is their dream to see Daulat rise to success.”

Damayanti’s life is turned upside down when she realizes that Daulat is in love with the tamasha artiste Chandramukhi. “She is deeply in love with Daulat,” Deshpande continued. “That’s why when she gets to know that he is in love with Chandramukhi, she is devastated. From being a strong woman to having nothing left with her is the journey of Dolly.”

Deshpande has most of the scenes in the film with Kothare. “We are very good friends and that made it easy to work with him,” she said.

Addinath Kothare and Amruta Khanvilkar in a scene from Chandramukhi

Asked the most challenging aspect of the role, she said, “Each and every scene of mine was challenging. Dolly’s graph itself is very challenging. The script is challenging. It is a story of relations. If the marriage of a happily married woman goes through trouble, then it does get challenging.  People will realize this after they watch the film. Right now I can’t reveal more.”

Chandramukhi marks the first time Deshpande has worked under Oak’s direction. “He is very approachable,” she said. “He has clarity. He listens and understands everything. He makes changes. He doesn’t okay a scene until he is satisfied. And if the artiste is not satisfied, he is ready to go with another take.

"He is a good director," she continued. "He is strict, but if you are a good artiste, being strict helps. There is nothing to get scared.”

Deshpande had read Vishwas Patil’s book of the same name which has been adapted into the film. “Chinmay Mandlekar’s screenwriting [while adapting the book] is aflatoon [incredible]," she remarked. "Politics is a major part in the book. The film focuses more on the love story. Once the medium changes, a few things are bound to change.”

There has been a great deal of hype around Chandramukhi after its grand launch at Mumbai’s The Royal Opera House. Asked whether she was thinking about the film’s box-office prospects, Deshpande said, “I, honestly, am not thinking about it. If you start thinking a lot, two things can happen. Your expectations can be fulfilled or they can’t and if that happens, there comes a lot of pain.”

Deshpande has been seen in a variety of projects over the past few years, like Miss U Mister (2019), 15 August (2019), Karkhanisanchi Waari (2021) and the Hindi web-series Mumbai Diaries 26/11 (2021).

She said her process of choosing projects is simple. “If I like what I am being offered, I do it,” she said. “I especially say yes if the character is challenging. It needs to be different from my past work and that’s what matters the most. It doesn’t matter if it’s a titular role or has two scenes, five scenes or a thousand scenes.”

Chandramukhi is Deshpande’s second project with the Planet Marathi banner after the web-series Soppa Nasta Kahi (2021). “It’s a beautiful experience to work with [co-founder] Akshay Bardapurkar," she said. "They all work with so much passion. He has come with a vision and I hope he reaches high. He has big dreams.”

Deshpande has acted in films, television serials, theatre and web shows. Asked about the differences she has experienced while adapting to each medium, she said, “Whether you act in a film, play, TV serial or web-series, you have to come up with a good performance, else the audience will slam you (laughs).”

On a more serious note, she added, “There is a difference in terms of your way of working. In theatre, you need to be loud so that the person sitting at the back is also able to hear you. But you can’t do the same while acting in a film.”

While movie halls have reopened for business and are now allowed to operate at full occupancy. Deshpande is unwilling to express any opinion about it. “I don’t want to jinx it," she said. “The coronavirus has taught us a lot. I am, obviously, happy because Chandramukhi deserved to be released with 100% capacity.”

Deshpande has her own directorial venture coming up in the form of Manache Shlok (2022). This time she has also acted in the film, unlike in her earlier film as director, Mann Fakira (2020). “We were waiting for the pandemic to get over to release the film," she said. "We will announce the release date after a bunch of big Marathi films are done with their release. I have a few web-series as well.”

Produced by Planet Marathi and Golden Ratio Films and distributed by Sunshine Studios, Chandramukhi will be released in theatres on 29 April.