Salonie Khanna Patel is excited to play Lubna in ‘The Elephant In The Room’. The short film is streaming on Humaramovie’s YouTube Channel. It is directed by Krishan Hooda, and produced by Aartie Miranni and Prakash Moolani while the dialogues and screenplay are penned by Neeltarni Pratap. Mantra has given the voice of Ganesha. Besides him, ‘The Elephant In The Room’ includes Daisy Shah, Viraf Patell, Nitinn R Miranni, Pratiksha Sen, Akanksha Pandey and Sankalp Joshi.
Talking to Prateek Sur, Salonie Khanna Patel opens up about ‘The Elephant In The Room’, how the opportunity came about, the festivities of Ganpati, her association with the elephant god and lots more. Excerpts:
How did the film come to you?
When Aartie and Nitin, who are dear friends, told me that they were going to be producing and making this film, there were no second thoughts about what the role was. Or what is the film about, to be honest, which is the first and foremost concern of any actor? But I truly believe that when you grow, you need to do things that help others grow as well. And this was their first production, and there was no way I was going to leave a chance to not be a part of it. And I’m glad that I did take that chance. So what prompted me to take up the role was actually two very close friends just bringing this film together.
The metaphorical elephant in the room represents an obvious problem or difficult situation that people do not want to talk about. How did you incorporate that fact into the story during the shoot?
We did a couple of readings. I was not even in Mumbai during that time, so I couldn’t come for the workshops that they had held because I was shooting for something else. But we did a couple of readings. We went hunting for costumes because costumes were very important in the film and it was to be shot in one day, that is the day of Ganpati. And costumes help me connect with the character better. We also spoke about the film a lot. We spoke about the characters on set also. We were still consistently talking about it because it was a collaborative effort. So that was what the prep was all about. Well, you have to watch the film to know how it’s done. I feel that as writers, actors, and directors, everybody’s aim is to justify what the film is about. And that’s what we tried to do with this one as well. Now let’s see what the audience has to say about it.
How has your relationship with the elephant god been always?
Growing up in a Hindu family, we were taught different stories of Ganesha and how he got the elephant head. I remember being very fascinated by these stories. Every time we speak about the elephant god, I remember my childhood. I remember all the Diwali pujas we did growing up in a Hindu household. I think the connection with the elephant God is definitely a very fond and strong one.
Do you bring Ganpati at home?
Ganpati, unfortunately, is not a festival that we Punjabis celebrate much in Delhi. But when I came to Bombay and saw how big the Ganpati is, I was very fascinated. I still don’t bring Ganpati home but have a lot of friends, including Aarti Miranni, who do, and I think that’s good enough because I’m literally at their houses during the festival. I like the fact that because I don’t have Ganpati at home, I can go to all of my friends, visit them and spend time with their Ganpatis.
Did you have any memorable incidents during the shoot?
I think we had very little time to shoot. Of course, it’s a short film on a budget and we had to do a lot. So we were continuously shooting and we were, of course, very tired as well. But I just remember very fondly how, even though everyone was tired, since it was such a fun film to shoot and because of the readings we had already become friends with each other, the energy of the set was very high. And, I think it was especially Ganpati’s blessings that we all felt tired after the shoot was over. During the shoot, we didn’t really feel it because we were all having fun. We were cracking jokes when the light was being set up. I remember recording reels also when I was in my makeup room waiting for my shot to be ready.
So how was your experience of working with Aartie?
I think Aartie is a no-fuss producer. Anything you ask her is available and ready. I think she is an actor’s dream to work with because usually, we actors have to fight the most with production for food, budget and so on. She is just the opposite of that, which I feel is a little bit of a dangerous territory for her but worked amazingly for us. Having said that, I think my experience was really great. She was very caring and took a lot of effort to make this happen and made sure that everyone was taken care of and she was personally there throughout the shoot, just overseeing everything. I was very impressed that this was her first, but she was so much in charge, and I think there was a lot of learning for me over there.