Congratulations for ‘Badhaai Do’! Before getting to the deets of the movie, I would like you to tell us about your journey, from participating in Miss Diva in 2014 to landing up here.
The journey has been amazing. I think I am blessed in so many ways. And it’s a very big opportunity for me. In the past, I was part of few pageants. And right now being part of ‘Badhaai Do’ is next level happiness for me.
How did you land up doing Miss Diva?
Well, there was this interview, I think with Times where I said that — small town girls can also have big dreams. And I think right now I am living my dream. After taking part in beauty pageants, in 2018, I was told, that I should come and try my luck in this sapno ka shahar — Mumbai. So I thought why not? I had no friends, I had no clue what I was doing. But I came to Bombay in 2018. And I struggled, I still am struggling. But also in the process. I learned a lot. And I knew that I have to do this.
Being somebody who looks so different, will I be able to strike a chord in this Indian cinema? Pageants were different and the cinema is a totally different world. So that happened, but I struggled and I broke some barriers, which seemed impossible to me as well. But I’ve done it and so can other people from small town. Doesn’t matter if you are from a small town.
The talks about Badhaai Do happened in 2020. When I walked in for the audition process, the first thing which was in my head was because I come from the north eastern part of India, we look a bit different from how the rest of India looks.
How was the audition process like? How many auditions did you give before you landed up this role?
For ‘Badhaai Do’, I gave three auditions. First time I went, before the lockdown happened, in March 2020. So I gave my first audition, and they called me again. I did it again. And then lockdown happened, I went home, I came back and I auditioned one more time with Harshavardhan Sir. He took the final audition and then I was locked for the role. I learnt a lot in the process and it goes on for an actor.
How was it working with such Rajkummar Rao and Bhumi Pednekar?
I had never imagined in my lifetime, that I could get to work with them. I’m still in disbelief. I’m dreaming. If you asked me, what I’ve learned from them is to be grounded. They are such amazing human beings, — so down to earth, you won’t feel like you are a newbie. The moment I met them, they made me feel so comfortable.
Any fond moment from the sets ?
I had a great time bonding with them. I remember my first meeting with Raj (Rajkummar Rao) Sir. I met him at the lift. I was going down for my reading. And he was also coming, and I said, ‘Hi, Sir.’ And he said, ‘Hi.’ So I asked him — ‘Are you coming for the reading?’ He said, ‘No, I think I’m not doing the movie.’ And I was like, ‘Okay.’ So he was fooling around. That is Raj for you. He is like such a fun person.
I used to call Bhumi — Mimi, because to me, this is a name in the movie, Sumi, which ends with me. And Bhumi also has ‘Mi’ so I call her Mimi, which also means sister in our dialect.
What was the process that you followed?
I didn’t feel out of place, even once. I think the comfort that they gave me helped me to approach my role. And the other thing is — I never took things to my head. I mean, if even if there’s a big scene to happen, I would always take it easy. No pressure on myself, because that is very, very important.
And were you like, someone who was very prepared for every shot? Or you were someone who’s quite spontaneous?
I think I am both, because some scenes require a lot of work, and some just don’t, it happens.
Chum, what is the kind of message that you want to give all the young girls who are planning to enter the industry and who are a bit scared coming from small towns?
So first thing — is to never give up. And if you are in doubt, there are so many talent agencies that you can join. For example, I am being represented by Times Talent — they encourage you to polish yourself, and push you higher, like push you up for the process that you’re getting ready.
So I’m being represented by Times and my manager also comes from the LGBTQ community. He’s also breaking stereotypes and he’s managing me. So I think if you’re looking to come here in Bombay, you should definitely join agencies like Times Talent, that will help you a lot in the process.
Chum Darang is a Times Talent girl.
Times Talent is one of India’s leading talent discovery and management firms, catering to films, Web series/TV shows, TV commercials, print shoots, appearances, events, celebrity-driven brand activations and more.