It was a matter of time before Mouni Roy entered the movies. She laboured in television for over a decade, starting with Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi (2007), and gained widespread popularity with the show Naagin. Roy made her Hindi film debut with Reema Kagti’s period film Gold in 2018, playing Akshay Kumar’s sharp-tongued Bengali wife. On April 5, Roy stars alongside John Abraham in Robbie Grewal’s espionage thriller Romeo Akbar Walter.
In the pipeline are Ayan Mukerji’s Brahmastra, the Rajkummar Rao-starrer Made in China and Bole Chudiyan. The transition from television to the movies has been smooth, Roy observed during an interview in Mumbai. “I took the jump because I knew the time was right,” she said.
Romeo Akbar Walter is set against the backdrop of the Indo-Pak War of 1971, and features Abraham as a spy who goes undercover in Pakistan. Also starring Jackie Shroff, Sikander Kher, Alka Amin, Suchitra Krishnamoorthi and Raghubir Yadav, the film is a saga of courage, Roy said. “I wanted to be a part of this film because I felt it was a special story,” she added. “That war impacted India, Bangladesh and Pakistan in many different ways. This is a story about a man with no face. He almost gives up his identity and he gives up everything for his country. There are many people like that, and we don’t even know who they are.”
Roy plays Abraham’s lover in the film. “She is a subtle, quiet woman who works at a bank,” Roy said. “To get inside any character, I needed to be well-versed with the time frame of the film. Body language was something that I worked on. The tonality had to be different. I could not increase or decrease my volume as it had to be subtle.”
The 33-year-old actress has featured in several television series, including Kasturi (2008) and Devon Ke Dev...Mahadev (2011). She attained super-stardom for playing a shape-shifting snake woman in the first two seasons of Naagin (2015-2017). The show, produced by Ekta Kapoor’s Balaji Telefilms, was a career milestone for Roy.
“I look back on that journey very fondly,” Roy said. “Ekta Kapoor ma’am is somebody who has given me everything that I have today. It is all because of Balaji and Naagin. That has been the biggest high of my career.”
The show’s success made leaving behind television for the movies that much more challenging. “I was offered many films before Gold, but I had already made a name for myself in television and I was doing great work,” Roy recalled. “So I knew that the film I was offered had to be great enough for me to give this up and make the transition. If I did one film and went back to television, it would almost be like I was giving up my home for no reason.”
Is television still on the cards for Roy? “I don’t want to do a show that will go on for a year or something, but I don’t mind doing something smaller,” Roy said. Her dream project is a big-screen Broadway-style Indian musical, but before that, audiences will see her as a character with grey shades in Ayan Mukerji’s superhero-themed Brahmastra. Starring Amitabh Bachchan, Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt, the movie will be released on December 20.
“It is one of the most interesting characters I have ever played,” Roy said. “If you were given a chance to play Voldermort in Harry Potter, wouldn’t you do it?”