Prachi Tehlan is an actress and a former athlete. She is an Indian netball and basketball player. She was the former captain of the Indian Netball Team and has represented our country in the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Not only is she the queen of the court, but she is also taking the industry with her talent and passion. Her acting skills are prominent in shows and movies.
Her achievements include the First medal in 2011 South Asian Beach Games, Sports Women of the year 2011, and so on. She has been the youngest captain of any Netball in the Commonwealth Games 2010. She has been entitled with names such as “Queen of the Court: and “Lass of the Rings.” Her articles have been published in various dailies. Let’s hear what the Ikyawaan actress has in store for the readers.
Questions and answers
How did you convinced your parents, who had apprehensions about pursuing a career in sports? How did they come around?
Basketball happened to me at a young age because of my height. The only apprehension parents have their child’s safety. So, I made them meet my coaches and the parents of other players, took them to my matches and events, got them familiar to the environment. Once they were convinced about my security and that I was investing my time and efforts in the right place, they supported me wholeheartedly and are the proudest parents ever.
One common misconception is that people use the words Netballs and Basketball interchangeably, but it's not in terms of rules and even the number of players. Describe your strenuous routines in both - Netball and Basketball. How different or similar was it?
Both sports are different. They can’t be compared. Both sports are different and require different training to excel in the game. I started my career by playing basketball and eventually started playing Netball for India. I believe whatever I am today is because of being a sportsperson from a young age. It taught me discipline and gave me the passion for living my life differently. Our routine used to be 2 hours of training in the morning as well as in the evening. During the national camps, the duration was 3 hours. So the practice used to be different for both the sports, but the drills and endurance are almost similar.
You cited a lack of opportunities for women in netball and basketball to put your sports career on hold. From a spectator's perspective, is there any change in terms of sponsors, infrastructure, and other things?
When I was pursuing my career in sports management, the biggest issue was a lack of career opportunities. Companies only hired IIT’s and IIM’s. The sports companies were not big, with many employees. There were no benefits provided to the sportsperson. Most of the girls who played with me are either sorts of teachers in schools/colleges, working in railways, or are housewives since they lack career opportunities. That was never my ambition. I wanted to do bigger things. Growing up, I did not know what and how, but I was extremely ambitious. Things have changed a lot for individual sports, but team sports have a long way to go in our country except cricket. If even 10% of the cricket funds were divulged to other team sports, our country would be different altogether.
How did you get an opportunity to be a part of the highly-rated daily soap 'Diya AurBaati Hum' produced by Shashi Sumeet Productions? Were you active in your school and dramatics club?
I had no connection with the acting/drama/entertainment industry before. An offer on Facebook changed my life for good. It was a fresh start: new city, a new profession, a new city, and a new life.
The regime of a Sports Person is different from that of an entertainment personality. How did you adapt to the new diet, and was it difficult initially?
I got to learn more about my body, nutrition, and diet after becoming an actor. In sports, we used to eat and burn a lot of calories. As an actor, it’s different. We have to look after our physique and our hair, skin, looks, and a lot more. The entertainment industry gave me a new perspective. It made me mentally strong and ready to face any challenges in life.
The qualities of leadership, teamwork, discipline, sportsmanship was inculcated in you for a long time. How did they help you in your acting career?
I am what I am because of the skills sports taught me. People love me for my discipline, down to earth nature and positive attitude I bring to the sets. They like my child-like enthusiasm to learn and mold myself according to the performance. Being a quick learner is the icing on the cake.
Can you talk to us about your work in association with Netball Development Trust of the United Kingdom and NAZ foundation of Delhi towards the underprivileged sections of the society? What compelled you to join hands with these particular organizations?
I have always wanted to give back to society. Opening my own NGO is on my bucket list. I want to develop sports at grass root level in our country. I loved the work the mentioned associations have been doing. I wanted to support them in every way. Passionate people run them. If my little support helps them grow, then I am happy to help.
The Malayalam movie 'Mamangam' saw you play one of the female lead roles. How did you prepare for the role of learning the language, dance style, and performing stunts?
I learned my dialogues well. I am very good at it. And like I said, if you are a quick learner and hardworking, nothing is difficult. I just went with the flow. Some people always motivated me and pushed me towards excellence. That’s all I needed to do things that were alien to me while working on Mamangam.
'Mamangam' is a non-fiction period film. Did you research the 'Mamankam' festival and the culture in Kerala to better understand the setting and the character?
Yes. I used to sit with the director and ask child-like questions. He appreciated them even if they were stupid. If you have the zeal to learn, people will always appreciate it. They would still help you. This is something I learned based on my experience. I was given a detailed background of the film, the history, and my character Unnimaya.
Did you feel pressure while working with the megastar Mammootty? How was the environment on set like? What was the equation you shared with your other co-stars?
Who wouldn’t?! I always had good butterflies in my stomach around him. I wasn’t nervous, just grateful. It was a period film and was fun shooting. My director M.Padmakumar was very calm and composed. He’s one of the best directors I have worked with. I was closest to my costume designer Binita and my co-actor Tarun Arora. We shared a good friendship along with Anu Sithara, Unnimukundan, and Sudev. Everyone is a good person. The film making was an absolute combination of fun memories and working with renowned industry names.
You have been featured in the list of Top 10 Glamorous faces of Commonwealth Games by India Today. Not only that, 'Times of India' and 'Indian Express' have named you as the 'Queen of Courts' and 'Lass of The Rings.' Generally, how do you react to such compliments?
Who does not like compliments? I love them too, but my head is always on my shoulders. I don’t let them affect me negatively. My humbleness is something that attracts people. It isn’t created; it comes naturally to me. I am an actor only in front of the camera. There are no layers to me.
Working for a daily soap is hectic. Sometimes one has to work for 15-18 hours. How do you manage to take breaks in between to spend some time alone?
Shooting is super hectic at times. But as an actor, you do get alone time to relax when the lighting, camera angle, or the shoot location is being changed. Once you understand your work, it’s easy to adjust. You make up your mind according to what your profession demands. The shooting process is extremely fun and adventurous. Creating something is the best thing you can do. I love being a part of this system, being in front of the camera.
Representing India on an international level at the 2011 South Asian Beach Games must have been a huge responsibility on your shoulders. How did you and your team feel at that time?
I was young and enthusiastic. I did not think much as my heart dominates my mind. That’s how I like to live my life. I love with my whole heart. I do everything with my whole heart. Rest, I believe I am god’s favorite, and he is taking care of me.
The show 'Ikyaawan' in which you played the lead female protagonist – Susheel, who is bullied for her height. We read that the reason the role was offered to you was that you were tall. Where there instances when you were bullied in school or college?
I wasn’t bullied, but people always were and are still fascinated by my height. I love it, but at times it gets annoying to listen to the same things again and again. Everything big in my life has happened to me because of my height. I take it as a blessing. God has already given me something from my birth to make me stand out in the crowd.
Do you miss being in sports? Do you indulge in sports in your leisure time?
I do miss being with my team and my time spent with them. I miss playing matches, defeating teams, and pushing ourselves to win again after a defeat. I do play badminton. I even tried swimming, squash and I love working out and functional training.
1. Three words that describe ‘Mamangam’: Huge. Periodic. Journey.
2. One prestigious event in which you were invited as the chief guest is close to your heart: There are many, but few are – chief guest in New Jersey Independence Day Parade in America, 2018; Chief Guest in my school; sports day of my college.
3. Describe an ideal Sports Person in a sentence:
Playing not just for yourself but for the love of you, your sport, team, city, and country. Playing sports prepares you to face bigger challenges in life at a very young age and accepting life as it comes. Once a sportsperson always a sportsperson.
4. The book you are currently reading: India’s most Fearless by Shiv Aroor and Rahul Singh
5. Modern or Retro: Retro