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After reigning the small screen for five years in ‘Pavitra Rishta’, Ankita Lokhande decided to take a long career break in acting. Now all set to mark her debut in Bollywood, the actress caught up with the media to talk about her new venture, which will have Kangna Ranaut in the lead, titled ‘Manikarnika’.

Based on the the life of Rani Laxmibai, Lokhanda will be seen playing an unknown yet important character in the protagonists life; Jhalkaribai. Talking about why she decided to start with this film, DNA India report Lokhande explaining, “It’s a woman-oriented film and that appealed to me. Plus, we have all read about Rani Laxmibai as part of Indian History. But when I was asked to play Jhalkaribai, I didn’t really know who she was. When producer Kamal (Jain) sir and director Krish sir narrated the script to me, I found out that she was Rani Laxmibai’s right- hand woman and almost her replica who would disguise as the Queen in front of the British.”

“So, I realised I had an opportunity to portray an unspoken hero, a warrior, and an integral part of Indian History. I’m sure I will play the typical Hindi film heroine and have my song and dance routines in future. But something like Manikarnika would never come back to me. And to debut with something like this, I’d say I’m lucky,” she added.

Though many are aware of the Laxmibai’s life, not much is known about her subjects, especially Jhalkaribai. So when she was asked how she prepared for the role, Lokhande expressed, “There was no reference material at all. But the way the character was narrated, I made a sketch in my head; my version of how she must have been — brave, confident and sabki band bajaane wali (laughs). She is exactly how I am in real life. So, maybe, I played this character with my own thought process.”

News had it that the actress had been offered a role in a Sanjay Leela Bhansali project during her career break which she turned down. When asked if it was a decision she now regrets, she stated, “Of course, I do regret it. Meri bewakoofi thi that I couldn’t do the film. I did not reject him or the movie. I genuinely wanted to do it but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to get back to work at that point of time. You need to be responsible towards your work. I do feel I missed out on a great opportunity. He is Sanjay Leela Bhansali, after all! I hope he forgives me (laughs).”

Sharing the screen with Kangna Ranait, Lokhande was all in praise for the actress, and it seems she really enjoyed working with her. “It was amazing. Kangana is a nice human being — lovable and caring. We bonded off the sets, too. She is very professional and completely into her character all the time. I feel she is what she is. I could connect with her because I’m the same, too. Plus, she works hard and is good to others on the sets.”

Also starring Sonu Sood, ‘Manikarnika’ is set to hit the big screens on 27th April.