Rashmika Mandanna: Redefining Cinema Borders and Capturing the Nation’s Heart as an Indian Icon

Rashmika Mandanna: The Journey, The Glamour, The Performer

How Rashmika Mandanna blurred the boundaries between regional and mainstream cinema.

How Rashmika Mandanna blurred the boundaries between regional and mainstream cinema, and became India’s national crush.

One look at actor Rashmika Mandanna’s Instagram profile, and you’ll see a mix of moods: Cute, girl-next-door selfies (the kinds we’d put on our close friends) to glammed, camera-ready portfolio shots – relatability comes easy for the 27-year-old. Animal’s pre-teaser is out at the time of writing this story, and her 38.5 million followers are awaiting her pairing with Ranbir Kapoor, a glimpse of which is yet to be seen. Yes, the Hindi film audience has been falling in love with Rashmika Mandanna – and that is not necessarily the doing of her Bollywood films alone.
Rashmika Mandanna Moment


In two years, Mandanna went from being a doe-eyed debutante to the first choice of filmmakers in the Kannada and Telugu film industries. A career that commenced in 2016 was already flourishing in 2018 when Mandanna stole the show opposite Vijay Deverakonda in Geetha Govindam, the film that won her the Filmfare South Best Actress (Critics) Award. What followed was a barrage of commercial and critical successes, and it wasn’t long before Bollywood sat up and took notice. She may have made her official Hindi debut with Amitabh Bachchan and Neena Gupta in Goodbye (a feat not many can boast of), but her Srivalli from Pushpa: The Rise had already made her a pan-India star by then.


Rashmika Mandanna Mirror Detailed Corset Blouse
Mandanna reflects on her blessings and lessons, her journey, and where she sees herself next. Excerpts from the interview below:

GRAZIA: What has been the film that is your true-blue breakthrough into becoming an actor to watch out for?
RASHMIKA MANDANNA: I would definitely give that to Kirik Party, my first film, because back then I thought it was just going to be one film, and if it doesn’t work, I’ll go back home and take care of my dad’s business. Kirik Party was the first time my audience saw me on screen and after the release, I felt like ‘Now this is something that I want to do’. After that, I would say Geetha Govindam. In fact, every film I’ve done has gotten me where I am today and has taken me a step higher.


G: Four years into acting in Kannada and Telegu films, you were already being touted as one of the stars of regional cinema. How did the transition to Hindi films happen? Was it always on the cards?
RM: 2020 was hard on all of us, and I remember during those two years we had to sit at home feeling lost and hopeless. The transition to Hindi films wasn’t always on the cards – me being an actor is a surprise to me (laughs), but it happened because of the immense love I was receiving from the Hindi industry, and I wanted to give that back and do a film in Hindi as well. I feel like it’s my responsibility to do good films and be a part of films that give back to the people who love me, which makes me disciplined and hard-working.
Rashmika Mandanna Cut-Out Swimsuit
G: Goodbye was your first Hindi film, that too with veterans like Amitabh Bachchan and Neena Gupta. What was your experience working on a Hindi film set? What were your biggest learnings?
RM: I can’t differentiate between working on different film sets because nowadays, the language barrier has broken down so much between different industries. If I’m working on a Hindi film, there are technicians from Chennai, Karnataka, etc., so I think film sets are Indian film sets, not just Hindi or Telugu. Amitabh Sir and Neena Ma’am are such gems – how they treat their craft is something you’ll learn from people who have been in the industry for as long as they have. When you see them on set, you’re in awe. I’m extremely sensitive to the people around me when I work with them because as an actor, you spend more time with your crew than you do with your family. When you’re sensitive, you become a sponge, and you absorb and learn.

G: As an actor who has attempted a range of roles, what is it that you look for in a script that makes you say yes to it?
RM: For me, it’s not just my character but the whole script that matters. The roles that I do matter, of course, but the script matters more. At the same time, I make sure that there’s a good balance because there will be films where I’d like to work for more time, and then films where I’d like to work for 15-20 days. The one thing that I keep in mind is I’d want to attempt everything as an actor because I know I can do everything – so why should I be typecast?
Rashmika Mandanna Ribbed Knit and Michael Kors


Rashmika Mandanna Looks

G: You’ve seen box office hits in the truest sense. What do you think you bring to a film that makes you stand out?

RM: For me, all my performances and looks in a film depends on the director. I am a director’s actor – their happiness and satisfaction matter the most. What I bring to the table depends from film to film, but I bring out what my team wants me to bring out.

G: What’s one thing that you’ve learned as you evolved as an actor that you didn’t do or didn’t know when you started out?
RM: My personality is everything an actor shouldn’t have (laughs). I’m shy in front of the camera, I feel shy dancing in front of people, and I don’t like people seeing me cry. I’m an introvert, but my coping mechanism is hyperactivity. When there’s a camera on me, I’m intimidated. As an actor, you’re literally in front of people doing something that everyone is going to watch. What I’ve learned recently is how to lose my inhibitions and be present, and the difference is visible in my craft. It’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve been able to do recently: Perform like no one’s watching and let people watch.
JRashmika Mandanna Jersey Maxi Dress
G: You’re also a part of cinema at a time when the lines between language, mainstream, and offbeat cinema, and even Indian and international cinema are blurring. What advantage does that give you as an actor?
RM: For me, the language barrier hasn’t really been a problem because ever since my first film, I have made sure that I learn the language before I step into the film, irrespective of the industry. The advantage is that you’re way more exposed to cultures out there, you’re exposed to the craft, stories, and filmmaking, so this exposure tunes you into bettering your craft consciously. Exposure makes us better actors and makes us better audiences too.

G: As an actor who has worked in different mediums as well as languages, how important do you think versatility is in terms of picking roles and projects?
RM: It’s extremely important because we live in the age of technology. I feel like one has to push their boundaries and try out different roles because if you pick roles close to your personality, people are already seeing that on your social media. Being an actor is also about how you’re able to surprise your audience and show them newer sides of you. At the end of the day, our job is to entertain.
Rashmika Mandanna Inspiration to the Youth
G: You’re not just appreciated as an actor, you’re also an inspiration to the youth. What would you like to say to women in their 20s, like yourself?
RM: There’s a lot I’d like to say, but in terms of life, I would say that don’t believe everything you see out there, for a lot of it can be masked. The world doesn’t know any better for you, you know it best for yourself.

G: What’s next for you?
RM: Some of my best films are coming out this year, and next year. The animal is wrapped up, I’m starting off with Pushpa 2, and Rainbow is happening, among other projects. This is what I’m up to, and it’s looking interesting.



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