For an actor, it’s hard enough to get into character, but when you’re playing a national sports star on screen the job becomes even harder. Priyanka Chopra, who is playing Olympic medal-winning pugilist Mary Kom in an upcoming biopic on the boxer, knows this only too well and has been undergoing extensive training to understand the champion’s life better.
Now, to even get Mary’s accent perfectly, Priyanka is listening to taped conversations of the boxer talking to match the inflections. “We recorded Mary when she was talking in Manipuri. Even when she talks in Hindi, Mary has a sing-song way of speaking and she emphasises on certain words. The tapes have helped Priyanka practise the dialect,” says Omung Kumar, director of the film.
Priyanka has also kept the recordings on the set for any last-minute improvisations. “Although she is always prepared for her scenes, there have been instances when we played the recordings on the set. At times we also called Mary up while shooting to seek help on the correct usage of Manipuri words,” the director adds.
While most of the film is in Hindi, it has certain Manipuri lines for added colour. “It is not an easy language to understand. Manipuri is not like Punjabi, Gujarati or Marathi, which we are used to hearing in our films. We had to use the words smartly so that even if the audience doesn’t understand the word, its meaning comes across,” says Omung.