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Bollywood actors Sanya Malhotra of Dangal fame and TV star Radhika Madan, who play warring sisters in director Vishal Bharadwaj’s new film Pataakha, went against convention as they prepared for their unconventional film.

From learning how to milk the buffaloes to smoking bidis [cheap cigarettes], the actors didn’t leave anything to chance as they spent weeks in a small village in Rajasthan to get a grasp on their rustic characters. While Malhotra plays Chutki who is constantly fighting with her elder sibling Champa Kumar aka Badki, played by Madan. The film is based on Charan Singh Pathik’s short story, Do Behnein.

Here are their take on...

Their role in Pataakha:

Malhotra: “I play Chutki who’s spiteful and aggressive towards her sister. Without any reason, they keep fighting and can’t stand the sight of each other. I am not like this character in real life as I am calm and introverted. But I could relate to Chutki’s tumultuous relationship with her sister because I used to fight with my sister Shagun in real life, too.”

Madan: “Champa thinks she’s the boss of the house. She doesn’t give a [expletive] about anybody and is a know-it-all. She just assumes that her sister doesn’t know anything and who copies her blindly. That sibling rivalry dominates their life.”

Preparing for their roles:

Madan: “We spent a long time preparing for our roles apart from doing intensive acting workshops. I have never smoked in my life, so I started smoking a beedi called Nirods … We began living in Charan Singh’s home… We began waking up at 4am, learnt how to make cow dung cakes, milk and bathe the buffaloes… We learnt how to cook in a chulha [fire oven] and cook for a family… Till then, all I knew was how to make toast and pour juice. We got our hair bleached and teeth blackened…”

Working with the award-winning Bharadwaj:

Malhotra: “On my first day of my shoot, I was scared of him. But he’s so nice that he made me very comfortable… He gave us a lot of freedom to explore our roles. We had long discussions before each scenes and that helped.”

On auditioning for the role:

Malhotra: “I had to audition for this role and Vishal sir asked me the day before if I needed help with the dialect spoken in the film. But it was similar to Haryanvi, so that helped in nailing the role.”

Madan: “I was learning my lines at an airport in Goa because I got the call from the casting company when I was on a beach celebrating the wrap of Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota. Plus, I got stranded at the airport waiting for my connection flight. So I ended up rehearsing at the airport. There were many who saw me talking to myself in a different dialect. Some were even taking photos and videos, but I had not time to deal with it.”

Did you know?

Radhika Madan had to put on 10 kgs for this film.

“But I was willing to go to any lengths for this role. They had applied a foundation that were shades darker even though I tried tanning naturally in the sun. I also put on weight to play the phase where I get married so that I looked mature,” said Madan.

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Pataakha is out in the UAE now.