In the last couple of years, Mandana Karimi has been in the news for her personal life. The actress, who has been away from the camera for almost three years, is gearing up for the release of her Zee5 web series – The Casino – My Game. My Rules.
Mandana says that she is playing Rehana Chaudhari, a casino owner, who is a very smart and ambitious woman. “She is struggling to achieve her goals and is ready to take any challenge. She is a woman in control,” the actress explains her role.
The series has been directed by Hardik Gajjar and written by Deepak Pachory. When Mandana met the makers, she wondered how she was going to pull off the role because she hasn’t played any character so far where she had to speak a lot of Hindi. “My character in Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3 did not speak too much Hindi. Though I played the lead in the film, it did not really challenge me nor did it add any value to my portfolio. For The Casino, they signed me a few days before we left for Nepal to shoot the series and I was therefore even more nervous,” Mandana says.
The Iranian actress who began her Bollywood career with Roy, had lots of questions for her director. “I used to ask Hardik so many questions like why is Rehana doing what she is doing and so on. Everyone on the set used to say that it looked like I had come for an exam and our director sahab was the teacher. As an actor, it was a great opportunity to challenge myself and I have worked really hard,” she says.
She is also grateful to Hardik for believing in her. “He was the only one who stood by me when no one else believed in me. He was like, ‘I only want Mandana for the role’. I am hoping that the audience will like me and someone would call me a true actor,” Mandana says.
The action thriller also stars Karanvir Bohra and Sudhanshu Pandey. It will be out on Zee5 on June 12. Mandana says that she did not know that Sudhanshu was a part of the project. “Instantly, there was a level of comfort. All of them helped me perform better. I have intimate scenes with both Karan and Sudhanshu but they made me feel very comfortable,” she adds.
For the past three years, Mandana was struggling to get work. “It’s difficult to get work after a gap. We are working in an industry where thousands of new talented people come in every day. When I decided to come back, I wanted to do movies which will challenge me as an actor,” she says, adding, “Doing commercial movies is fun and easy but when you are working on a project like The Casino, where every day there is some new information about the character, it’s even more exciting. When you start shooting, you start getting under the skin of the character,” the actress says.
Ask her how did she keep herself motivated during the difficult times and the former Bigg Boss contestant says, “I have always been a very strong girl. I know you do not get work overnight. I had lots of offers post Bigg Boss and Kya Kool… but I didn’t want to work because I wanted to focus on my marriage. I got married and decided to take a break. But then whatever happened to my marriage and I came back to acting. Many thought I wasn’t serious about my work because I did not do anything for two years.”
But she has worked very hard to earn everyone’s trust back. “I have worked on my diction and acting. I got enrolled in an acting academy of Saurabh Sachdeva and trained for four months. I also did theatre with him, which changed me as a person,” she shares.
The actress has a couple of projects lined up but she says that they depend on the lockdown situation. “I also have a movie with Sunny Leone titled Coca Cola and we have two more songs left,” says Mandana who has been doing Instagram chats with psychologists since the lockdown has started.