Deeptii Mohan ‘locked in’ to a 'Gift Box'

Deeptii Mohan ‘locked in’ to a 'Gift Box'

The actress, known for her glamorous roles, breaks the mold to play a paraplegic in the film

Having spent a decade doing glitzy roles, Deeptii Mohan is taking a deep dive into a character role. The actress plays the role of a patient with pseudocoma, more popularly known as locked-in syndrome, in the ‘Gift Box’. The movie which saw it’s release on Friday, is arguably the first film in Indian cinema to show the syndrome. 

The role mandated that Deeptii mimic the emotions of a completely paralysed but fully conscious woman. The extremely demanding role ruled out the use of voice and movement, and relies only on her eyes. Mimicking the symptom, as you can guess, is no easy feat.

“To be honest, I was scared,” Deeptii admits. “I have always been linked to a very glamorous look right from when I was crowned Miss Sandalwood in 2010; at the start of my career.” 

The actress had to undergo a complete physical transformation as her character Surabhi was bald. “I had to look really sick. Which meant absolutely no makeup, not even a touch of lipgloss,” she says. 

For years, the industry’s obsession with looks and poise had directed Deeptii’s career. To break that mould, she had to learn and unlearn extensively. She had to completely reinvent her on-screen image.

She knew she had to go all the way to play the character. “I wanted to tap into the performer in me. Putting on makeup and wearing pretty clothes can make anyone a heroine. But playing a character like Surabhi took a lot of mental preparation,” she says. 

With a wealth of information on the syndrome, she dived into the role fully prepared. It took her six gruelling hours in hair and make up to get the look right. After the camera started rolling , her face and body had to be immobile, with her eyes doing all the talking. 

The shoot for ‘Gift Box’ went on for 45 days, and the schedule was really hectic. “We shot it all in a single schedule, without a break. 15 out of those 45 days, the shooting was focused on my bald look,” she recalls. Pictures of the look which were leaked from on set, had gone viral and created a mini storm on social media.  Motivated by director Raghu S P and with the magic of makeup artiste Uma Maheshwar, the method actor in Deeptii came out of hiding.  

According to the actor, the transformation was a tough one. “All those hours of shooting, along with the seven to eight hours of makeup made me look sick. The sleep deprivation had created natural dark circles, which helped punctuate the ‘patient’ look,” she says. 

In her fledgling film career, Deeptii has played a romantic role in the Kannada flick ‘Ka’. She played the second lead in the Tamil film ‘Naradan’. The third, ‘Mythili’, was her first foray into meatier roles. The movie told the story of a village girl’s struggle against societal norms.

“Mythili made me feel I can act and take on serious subjects,” says Deeptii. It’s been two years since the shoot of ‘Gift Box’ has wrapped up.

Nowadays, after it’s a state-wide release, Deeptii waits on like the rest of the cast and crew for the verdict of the audience and critics, hoping it changes her career for the better.

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