Mrunal Thakur, a Hindi film actor, says she started the profession hoping to work with filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, but she never anticipated the opportunity would come so early in her career with "Toofaan." Thakur portrays Ananya, a psychiatrist who helps convert its protagonist Aziz Ali from a henchman to a professional boxer in the forthcoming sports drama starring Farhan Akhtar.
Even before Thakur met the director of critically acclaimed films such as "Rang De Basanti" and "Bhaag Milkha Bhaag," the actor remembers being "very anxious" when Mehra appeared for the dubbing of Nikkhil Advani's 2019 drama "Batla House."
Later, when the duo discussed "Toofaan", Thakur said she was surprised by the faith Mehra showed in her.
"Rakeysh sir didn't know I'm a Maharashtrian and the character we were discussing was also one. At that point I knew I still didn't have the film- I had to work hard for it. It was necessary for me to test for the character, for him to believe I could play it and for me to get closer and understand what this girl is about.
"It was my dream to work with him. I thought it would take me at least 15 films to even get that opportunity but I'm blessed that I got it at such an initial stage of my career," Thakur told PTI.
Starting out on television with the popular soap opera "Kumkum Bhagya" (2014–2016), Thakur transitioned to Hindi films with the acclaimed 2018 drama "Love Sonia" and gained further recognition in 2019 for Hrithik Roshan-starrer "Super 30" and "Batla House", headlined by John Abraham.
Her character in "Toofaan", the 28-year-old actor said, has the potential to "inspire" people, especially filmmakers, to write stronger female parts.
"She's a liberal, lovely girl. A catalyst who helps Ajju to transform into Aziz, to follow his passion, and channelise all his energy into something nice. Ananya is someone who is not just going to inspire the audience but also change the way filmmakers, people look at Bollywood actresses.
"This is one of the meatiest characters I got a chance to perform. I feel fortunate to have played the role. Characters like these are not written often," she said.
The film, produced by Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani''s banner Excel Entertainment along with Mehra''s ROMP Pictures, is scheduled to be released on Amazon Prime Video on July 16.
Despite being relatively new to the industry, Thakur is in no hurry to prove herself and said she would rather be invested in "one or two" films a year than take up projects for the sake of it.
"Even if I do one-two film a year, I want to be completely into it. My agenda is that the audience should be able to associate with it. I want to change the way people look at actresses with the roles I play. I want to be known as a versatile actor and ''Toofaan'' is a step towards that direction," she added.
The actor will also be seen in Shahid Kapoor-starrer "Jersey".