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Why it was a good idea to cast Rajkummar Rao's girlfriend Patralekha in 'City Lights'

By: Shomini Sen

IBNLive.com

Last Updated: May 30, 2014, 12:49 IST

Why it was a good idea to cast Rajkummar Rao's girlfriend Patralekha in 'City Lights'

Most people were also wary of Patralekha's capabilities initially when the first look of 'City Lights' was launched.

New Delhi: It isn't easy to work with your partner especially if both of you are in the same profession. Rivalry, insecurity are bound to crop. Besides there are bound to be comparison made and one almost, always will outshine the other.

When Mahesh Bhatt introduced his new heroine Patralekha at the trailer launch of 'CityLights', opposite actor Rajkummar Rao, many thought the newcomer got the role due to her personal relationship with Rao. The couple who have been dating for a while have been often spotted at filmy events together. While they initially kept mum about their relationship when the film was launched initially, the actress soon after defended her relationship and stated that her talented boyfriend had no hand in her grabbing the role in 'City Lights' and that she was chosen by director Hansal Mehta.

Most people were also wary of her capabilities. She was a newcomer and was being pitted against a National Award winner. But when you watch 'CityLights', you know why Hansal Mehta chose Patralekha for the role of a naïve, dependable young mother.

A dark, realistic portrayal of poverty and how it makes people take drastic steps in life- 'City Lights' is not your usual Bollywood film. There is no glamour involved, no plush locales in which the film is shot, neither are their designer costumes and sets to cushion the story. And for all these reasons, it isn't the sort of dream debut that most Bollywood aspirants look forward to in this day and age. And that perhaps makes Patralekha stand out. A film based completely on performance (it doesn't have too many dialogues) is tough. Especially when you are pitted against seasoned actors like Manav Kaul and Rajkummar Rao but Patralekha manages to hold fort. She doesn't outshine or surpass the two actors in any of the scenes but holds steady and gives an equally compelling performance.

The two actors, also due to their personal relationship, look absolutely at ease playing a married couple grappling with poverty and pressure of the big city life. Both Rajkummar and Patralekha seem very much at ease playing a married couple. Their body language speaks says volumes about their compatibility.

In a performance driven film, where the story is not your quintessential love story, it is difficult to establish chemistry between the lead actors. There is a particular scene where Rao (Deepak Singh) comes home drunk, kicks his wife mildly to wake up and show him how she dances at the bar every night. She does wake up and looks stunned for a while with her husband's audacity and eventually when she is forced, she slaps him hard. The scene is particularly difficult as is it always easy to go overboard in emotional and drunk scenes. But the talented actor Rajkummar Rao is, he manages to bring out the naivety and helpless of his character brilliantly. While you, as a viewer, is busy being awestruck with the actors talent, Patralekha also draws attention for her extremely contrasting emotions in the scene. Both are unhappy and for the same reasons, both are angry but both express their feelings differently. Eventually they both cry and caress each other to sleep. And they both seem to know how the other would react and perhaps in a way complement each other's performance.

Much has been written about Rajkummar Rao's performance. He is for sure one of most talented actors we have at this point of time. Give him any role, and he delivers and manages to surprise you with his performance with every film. But it is equally heartening to see that his girlfriend, and now the leading lady of 'City Lights' compliment his performance with her own talent.

While it is too early to speak about Patralekha's versatility, one thing is for sure- that she is brave enough to experiment with risky projects which may or may not be glamorous. Let's hope that the couple take more films together, all different from each other, but in all they get to shine because of their talent.

first published:May 30, 2014, 12:49 IST
last updated:May 30, 2014, 12:49 IST