Transformation of Actress Meneka Das: “Nobody recognised me at the premiere!” in Oscar Winner BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY | The Fan Carpet Ltd • The Fan Carpet: The RED Carpet for FANS • The Fan Carpet: Fansites Network • The Fan Carpet: Slate • The Fan Carpet: Theatre Spotlight • The Fan Carpet: Arena • The Fan Carpet: International

Transformation of Actress Meneka Das: “Nobody recognised me at the premiere!” in Oscar Winner BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

27 February 2019

Meneka Das was born in India, but moved to London to follow her dream of music, theatre & films. Most recently her career reached a new peak, with a starring-role in the incredible multiple BAFTA & Oscar  award-winning film, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, as the mother of Freddie Mercury, front-man of ‘Queen’.

Her four-hour physical transformation to take on the role of Freddie’s mother in the emotive biopic was just fascinating. Even the staff at the film premiere couldn’t recognise her and wouldn’t believe her when she said she was the actress who played the star’s mother.

In this interview, Meneka shares more about her TV and acting work, including the extraordinary experiences in ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. But having added some new lifetime experiences working with the 2019 Oscar winning actor and BAFTA ‘Leading Actor’, Rami Malek, she also opens up to share broader issues of importance; her strong belief in female empowerment and a real insight into new projects, this time as a film director.


Meneka, can you tell us about your acting beginnings?

I was born in a little village in Northern India and then moved to London to pursue my dream of working in music, theatre & films. My passion for stories with strong female voices, especially those that reflect my own culture inspired me to turn to writing and directing, to help bring them to reality on screen.


What are your best projects to date?

I worked with David Yates in the Emmy award-winning film, “Girl in the Cafe”, starring Bill Nighy and Kelly Macdonald and with Mike Leigh in “Another Year”. I also had a role as Dr Alysha Shah, a regular in the Scottish TV Drama “River City”. On stage I played Amina in Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children for the RSC, directed by Tim Supple and Melly Still, which took me to Harlem’s Apollo Theatre in New York.


Can you tell us more about your role in "Bohemian Rhapsody”?

As an actor I use a mix of acting approaches and the method training part of me wanted to connect to Rami and get a real sense of him as my son, so I asked if there was a chance of meeting him. I remember making my way to the rehearsal stage, where Rami and the rest of the actors were rehearsing. He was in the middle of his song but he stopped and came over to hug me and I said: ‘hello son’ and that was it. Once I had the role then the next journey was getting to know Jer Bulsara’s character and become her. It was eight years since I’d been on screen and I really wanted to do her justice. I did research on the internet about her and travelled to Mumbai to visit the Parsi community; in the end all that it came down to was a mother who completely doted on her son and that was the essence of what I played.

I am also grateful to the sessions I had with my acting coach, Anthony Greene, trained in the Ivana Chhubuck technique. The first thing was taking care of my physical transformation. The test of sitting through a four-hour make-up transformation was quite a deal, especially with a pick-up time of 3am. I shall say no more - acting is fun but it needs a lot of discipline and physical fitness too. Everyone was so giving and Dexter Fletcher was wonderful to work with. I knew he was an actor/director much like myself but he helped create a relaxed atmosphere that just made the whole experience so comfortable that we all could work so much easier together. The one thing I have to add which still gives me goosebumps is, one minute I was serving coffee in a cafe and next I was working with the best of talent making such an iconic film!




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