Regina Cassandra on playing Mrinalini Sarabhai in Rocket Boys: 'She was a force to reckon with'
In an interview with Hindustan Times, actor Regina Cassandra speaks about her busy schedule in films and OTT and connecting with dance once again to play the role of Mrinalini Sarabhai in Rocket Boys.
This year, Regina Cassandra has already been featured in two web series, Jaanbaaz Hindustan Ke and Farzi. She returns as Mallika Sarabhai in Rocket Boys 2 on March 16 and also has a number of Tamil films lined up for release this year. (Also Read | Saba Azad on Rocket Boys, acting and singing: 'Need a number of careers to keep me interested')
However, the actor told Hindustan Times in an interview that she has decided to take it slow after this year. She said, “2023 is going to be about what I'm going to be doing and 2024 would be about more stuff that is coming out.”
Regina revealed that she is as excited as the fans to catch the upcoming season of Rocket Boys. The actor shared that she had received a ton of messages on Instagram from fans telling her how they were looking forward to the new season.
With Rocket Boys, Regina made her web series debut and since then has gone on to star in several OTT projects in Hindi including Shoorveer and Janbaaz Hindustan He. She stated, “It definitely has been the best ask for in the OTT space. I'm really glad that being from the south to, at least, have this opportunity was really good.”
Her schedule keeps her busy but Regina reveals that she can’t choose between films and OTT. She said, “I like it all and I honestly just live for this now. People have called me a workaholic when I do not look at myself as a workaholic, but I have been jumping from one to the other. I was a very hyperactive kid and I used ways to find myself to find and use this energy up. I don't think that's died down at all. I'm still the kind of person that wants to do it all. I only just hope and pray that I am able to do it for the longest time that I can.”
To prepare for her part as Mrinalini Sarabhai, the wife of scientist Vikram Sarabhai (Ishwak Singh), the actor had to go back to Bharatnatyam. Regina said, “I learnt Bharatnatyam for about four years. I didn't pursue it because I had a lot of things going on at that time. But the moment I knew I was playing Mrinalini Sarabhai, the first thing I said was, ‘I really need a teacher to work on my dance.’”
She continued, “The fact that I was playing not just a classical dancer of Bharatnatyam, I was playing a person who was like a pioneer in the art form. She brought about so much awareness through dance. She's a legacy. I couldn't just get away with knowing how to do it. I also had to make sure that I looked like someone who was leading the way through the whole movement, through everything.”
During the pandemic then, Regina kept herself occupied with one to one and a half hour classes every day with a teacher named Preeti from Chennai on Zoom. She added, “I love to dance, and through this I also got to explore [it again]. I had it in me. It was just beautiful to bring it back up again. It's a tough dance form.”
Regina also shared that she had read up on Mrinalini and seen many of her interviews before the shoot, but when she visited her dance school, Darpana Academy of Performing Arts, in Ahmedabad, she felt more of a connection to her.
She shared, “I went to Darpana and just the energy in the place... I can't even begin to explain. I would go to the extent to say I could feel her energy around and even before I would do a performance when we were shooting, I would always close my eyes and just picture her in my mind and feel like she's moving through me. It helped me a lot to be able to portray what I did.”
The production team had support of the Sarabhai family as well. Vikram and Mrinalini’s daughter Mallika Sarabhai choreographed the performances on the show.
Regina recalled, “Once we went to shoot, there was Jagdish master who came in from Darpana, along with Mallika ma'am and the troupe to dance. In fact, you see the girls dancing in my introduction in season one, are from Darpana. They were a huge part of the process. And Revanta also has come on board, he's Mallika ma'am's son. He's part of the crew. They were pretty much an integral part of this.
The family also shared little insights into the legendary danseuse that helped shape her character. She explained, “The songs that she liked, who was her favourite god, what colours she liked, just these normal little things that you would want to get to know about a person. All of these questions I had asked and it was interesting to see how if she wasn't performing, she didn't like wearing too much jewellery on her. She was a very powerful woman, like if you look at her, you will always do a double take.”
The actor went on to say, “She was a force to reckon with, just her presence itself. I happened to witness an arangetram at Darpana, [as] one of the girls was graduating. I had tears in my eyes because it was just so beautiful how even after her having lived such a life, she's continuing to make a mark through many people's lives. As a woman it makes me feel really happy, having to be the person to tell her story in a way and just having that connection with it.”