If you saw Ankita Lokhande’s electric dance performance at the 10th Masala! awards on December 13, you’d never have been able to guess that it was her Bollywood stage debut and that she isn’t even a trained dancer! The star of the hit TV show Pavitra Rishta, who has finally managed to get her big Bollywood break in the upcoming Kangana Ranaut starrer Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi, reveals that she’s a better dancer than actor. Excerpts from an interview.
Your performance at the Masala! awards was so well-received and yet, it seems, you are not a trained dancer.
(Laughs) I am not. But I love to dance and to be on stage. It’s more like I am performing for myself than others. In fact, when I came to Mumbai to become an actor my best quality, I felt, was not acting but dancing even though I never went to any dance school. Acting was something I was really scared of. But dancing definitely came more naturally to me, I’d say that. I just learned the steps watching Bollywood films.
Who are your favourite dancers?
Madhuri Dixit and Sridevi are superb dancers. They are superstars of our childhood. A bit of them has remained in me somewhere, I guess. Rekha ma’am is also a beautiful dancer.
You are working with Kangana Ranaut in Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi, your big Bollywood break. Butterflies in the stomach?
(Laughs) Of course! Manikarnika is a big film for me and I am really excited. It’s a historical drama based on the queen of Jhansi. I am playing the warrior Jhalkaribai. This film celebrates women power. There’s Kangana as Rani Jhansi and it’s great to see Kangana at work, because she’s such a terrific actress.
You are from Indore and Kangana, too, is a small town girl. Did you girls bond over your shared small town India upbringings?
Yes, we are small town girls and that’s why I feel Kangana is so normal, as a person. We look up to Kangana and want to be like her. Somebody comes from the small town and makes it big is a feeling I share with her. I am learning many things from her. She’s a senior. We are both normal people and have normal conversations on the set but I can’t claim that there’s any friendship.
Pavitra Rishta was your first and last TV show – and it made you a star. Why didn’t you do more television after that?
Pavitra Rishta was a beautiful journey. I was zero before Pavitra Rishta as an actor but I grew so much with it. I remember everything about the show, how I went in for the audition and my first scene where my character Archana is serving tea. It wasn’t a tough scene but somewhere, I was so nervous. (Laughs) My mom, on the other hand, kept making me more nervous with her constant, “Ankita, can you do it?” And I was like, “Mama, let me do it please.” I wasn’t confident of getting that role. I thought they won’t select me because I do not have that typical heroine face. But Archana was a simple girl and maybe they saw something in me. I saw many other people who were much more talented but somewhere, I guess, you have to prove yourself. I sustained. (Laughs) I am sure there’s an X factor in me.
So, yeah, Pavitra Rishta was my learning curve. All these beautiful memories are attached to that show. Naturally, after Pavitra Rishta, I wanted to do films. Every actor dreams of doing films someday. TV is great and it’s got a lovely audience but my dream now is the big screen.