“One of the reasons for me to join the industry was to run the kitchen and to run the house because I lost my father when I was born. My mom was a single parent, she was not as you know. . . she . . . she was uneducated. So, you know, it was very difficult for her to look after the family because being a woman, being a single parent, you also have to deal with a lot of scrutiny or have to deal with a lot of society’s perceptions . . . those remarks, those comments, and there was a lot that she had to deal with. Additionally, we were also in a financial crisis. So, I know that I have started from scratch, which is why I value things more because life happened to me too soon,” says Antim actress Mahima Makwana in a quiet room in Mehboob Studios as she reminisces about her youth.
Mahima Makwana recently made her Bollywood big-screen debut with Salman Khan and Aayush Sharma starrer Antim. But this isn’t Mahima’s first time at the rodeo – she’s been working for years now, ever since she was nine or ten years old. She made her TV debut in Mohe Rang De and appeared in shows like CID, Aahat, Miley Jab Hum Tum, Jhansi Ki Rani and Balika Vadhu.
“As television actors, we are so used to working under extreme circumstances. There are so many deliveries that you have to make, you don’t get time to prepare as an actor, things get monotonous, things get really difficult because nothing matters when it comes to making deliveries. You know, I had also lost my grandfather while I was shooting for a television program and I was not allowed to leave the set. But it is what it is because first of all, you know, shouldering the responsibility of being the protagonist itself is a task. So, I think, yeah, I mean, TV, you know, you are so used to being on your toes, you don’t get time to prepare. And at the same time, I feel TV has given me a lot of confidence, it has given me a lot of experience that I think will help my journey unfold. And I think I owe my career to TV because TV has made me what I am. TV has given me fame, success, money,” she says.
While Mahima probably knows that a Salman Khan movie is all about him, she was also drawn to her character in Antim because “she was not a furniture” but someone who spoke volumes. “Right now, as Mahesh (Manjrekar) sir says, there is no formula that works because we are in this time where you want great content and because content is the only thing ultimately – audiences have evolved, they can just, you know, change the channel in one click, so you have to have good writing. And it was a beautiful universe to be a part of because there is a girl who speaks for ourselves, who takes a stand. And she was the only girl in a man’s world,” says Mahima.
Mahima may have made a splashy debut in Bollywood but life wasn’t always easy. Hence, she feels that Salman Khan and Mahesh Manjrekar must have seen the difficulties she has faced etched on her face. “Salman (Khan) sir and Mahesh (Manjrekar) sir have had experiences of their own, not just professional ones but life experiences. So, they look at you and they can see the ups and downs that a person has had. So, maybe you know, unhone mujhe mauka diya ki there is this girl who is coming who is from the outside, who belongs to the society. We want to give her a helping hand,” she says.
And what has she learned from Salman Khan?
“I think what I’ve learned from him is to stay consistent. You know, we have seen him entertain all of us for almost three and a half decades. And there is something about him which I don’t know if I’ll be able to put that in words but to just be at it . . . he’s also had experiences, we’ve had his things come on the forefront but it’s about how good of a fighter you are and he’s fought with everything that came his way. So being consistent and also being strong enough to face everything,” she says.