Malika Mahat is a well-known name among Nepali youths. The 19-year-old model has firmly established herself as one of the most popular Instagram stars of Nepal with over 76k followers on the social media. Now, after successful modeling stints, she is making her acting debut in the upcoming movie Yatra: A Musical Vlog, alongside Salin Man Baniya, Salon Basnet, Jahanvi Basnet, and Rajaram Poudyal among others. Directed and written by Samrat Shakya, the movie is set to release in April this year. The Week’s Anweiti Upadhyay caught up with this up and coming actor to talk about her experience while shooting for her first film.
How were you cast for the movie? Did you go through the whole audition process or were you approached for the role by the production team?
I have starred in a few music videos before this and but I have never done something of this scale. The production team actually sent me an email a few months ago inviting me to audition for Yatra. I was cast after getting through three days of full-fledged auditions. Later on, while actually filming the movie, I found out that the reason I got the email invite to audition for Yatra was because production team had seen some of my previous works and thought I would be a good fit to play the female lead in the movie.
Was it difficult to prepare for your role? Did you take any special classes or get acting training, specifically for this role?
After the casting of all of the actors for Yatra, the production team organized a workshop for everyone involved in the project. We went through the script and practiced acting and a lot of other things during the workshop. That workshop went on for about a month and a half. Although I’ve always been a little in love with the concept of acting, I actually haven’t attended a proper acting class in my life. I have participated in a fair number of school- and high school plays and do have some experience but that’s just about it.
You are also studying at the moment. How did you manage to find the time to keep up with your college work while working on a movie?
I’m currently a first year BBA student at Ace Institute of Management. I actually did not have to manage both shooting and college work at the same time. I was approached for the movie as soon as I finished my grade 12 exams. I had a six-month gap between that and the start of college classes. We started shooting about 45 days after the casting and finished all of that in the next three months. And since I was still in my post high school/pre college break, I could fully focus on the shooting for Yatra. Honestly, I feel like I have utilized the break to the fullest.
How was the experience of working in a movie?
It was a roller coaster ride but I’m really happy to have been a part of it. I learned a lot of things from this project, the first of which is the fact that making a movie isn’t an easy job. It all looks hunky-dory and glamorous on screen but most people don’t realize the hard work that goes behind it. It isn’t just the actors, director and producers who are involved in it, a lot of people are working behind the scenes to get every tiny detail of the movie right. I can now also see how it’s justifiable that some movies take years in the making.
We also traveled to Solukhumbu to shoot a few scenes for the movie and that was my favorite part of this whole process. I really enjoyed the place. It was very serene and relaxing, completely different from Kathmandu. The one thing I struggled with while shooting for Yatra was getting the dance moves right. There’s a song in the movie and for it, we had to learn a difficult choreography. Because I’m not used to dancing, I had a hard timing picking up the moves and had to practice a lot more than the other cast members to execute them properly.
Do you plan on taking up acting as a career in the future?
I’m very grateful to have been a part of Yatra but I don’t think I will be taking up another movie project anytime soon. I don’t mean that this is the end of my acting career but, for the time being, I want to focus on my studies and not get distracted. After that, I’m open to any kind of acting or modeling gigs that come my way. And even then I want to pursue a proper job, preferably in the business sector, as my primary career. I feel there isn’t a lot of stability in the glamor industry and I don’t want uncertainty in my life.