No child's play this

After her recent show in the recent film 'Posham Pa', actor Ragini Khanna feels happy being the poster-child of hate, writes Shobhana Sachidanand

Ragini Khanna

Playing a deranged serial child killer has its advantages, says actor Ragini Khanna, sounding nonchalant about her role in the ZEE5 original short film Posham Pa. Before you get her wrong, she adds, “I generously donated all my angst, negative feelings and toxicity to Shikha Deshpande, my character in the movie.”

The trade-off for her has been part of the evolving curve where she discovered herself through her characters.

“It’s been a positive learning curve,” says the chirpy actor, known until now for her spirited, fun-loving roles on the telly. Making the transition from TV to films, though, was not easy as she feels that TV actors are judged for their choices. “TV actors are often marginalised and I, too, had to put up with some really rude comments when I made the switch. I never took it personally, and instead, thought of it as constructive criticism,” she says.

Posham Pa is inspired by true events and depicts the spine-chilling tale of the only two women serial killers in the country who received the death penalty for kidnapping children in Maharashtra for their pick-pocketing ring, and then mercilessly murdering them.

The prep

“I take everything in my stride and my acceptance has increased manifold since the time I entered the fraternity. For me to prep for this part, I had to empathise with this girl and justify a criminal in my head which was an excruciatingly painful process because I don’t belong to her value structure. At the same time, I had to have a very strong sense of fierceness — as fierce as acting upon the choice of murdering children,” she says.

Her performance has been lauded by critics as portraying a character who’s complex and edgy is tough. “Getting into the psyche of the character and then detaching myself from it after the shoot was tough. For three months, I didn’t listen to music, as for me, my work is a means of self-escape. I channelised my negative emotions to Shikha. I was very happy doing away with all these emotions,” she says.

“My respite from a bad day is music and working out, but I deprived myself of these pleasures during the shoot so that I remain in that particular frame of mind. The three months that I was associated with the film was tough, but I cherish it,” she says.

Cheers to that

All through her career spanning 11 years, Ragini has been associated with cheerful characters, like Ragini Sharma of Radhaa Ki Betiyaan Kuch Kar Dikhayengi, Bharti of Bhaskar Bharti, and Suhana Kishore Bajpai-Kashyap of Sasural Genda Phool, and displayed her acting chops in the movies Teen They Bhai, Bha ji in Problem, Ghoomketu and Gurgaon. Her infectious laughter and her stint in shows like Comedy Circus Ke SuperStars and Comedy Nights With Kapil notwithstanding, Ragini says, “Comedy belongs to thinkers. Humour is very subjective. Humour always makes it easy to deal with people and I take it as a compliment if I have been able to make anyone smile. Making people cry is very easy, but making people laugh is tough as it is very personal,” the actor says.

Unnerving

Ragini narrates how during their shoot in a children’s repository home in Matunga, the very vibe of the place left them feeling sad. “During the course of the shooting, we observed how children went about their daily chores of washing utensils and preparing food. I felt one among them while shooting the scene where I had to clean the toilet but the sequence left me in a disturbed state as I realised that the children there do not have a normal life because they are deprived of healthy food and hygienic conditions. The experience was unnerving. The next day of the shoot, I could feel Shikha in my skin... I was so grossed and unnerved that it left me emotionally drained,” she says.

Ragini believes that it helped that her co-stars in the film, Mahie Gill and Sayani Gupta, were very communicative and would often exchange notes that kept them stimulated. “The fact that I was playing the character of one of the only two women in the country who were on a death row made it very special. My director Suman Mukhopadhyay saw me on screen and remarked that I have a crafty mind. That is one comment I will cherish for long,” she says.

The actor says that she’s currently happy being the poster-child of hate. “I feel it’s an opportunity for my viewers to hate me and to channelise their hatred in a positive direction. It will, in a way, be an appreciation of my work.”

 

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