By Saurabh Bhattacharya
By Indian film actress Nandita Das as told to Saurabh Bhattacharya
Honestly speaking, I entered films by default. My tryst with acting began with the Indian doyen of street theatre Safdar Hashmi’s group Jan Natya Manch. After this, I did my Masters in social work and got involved with various NGOs. The reason I chose social work was because I wanted to do something that had much more human contact.
Somewhere deep inside, there was always the belief that things can change for the better and we can effect this change. I try to apply the same thought when I choose a film. Not deliberately, though. It’s like when you get a film that deals with something you have always believed in, you automatically focus on it. And acting being something that demands a change in thought-process, I concentrate on different roles. Otherwise, there’s a danger of getting typed. Not that it worries me much. After all, acting was never my ambition or desire. It was an interest that just happened to work out. We completed the film Fire way back in 1996. And if I really had that much of drive, I would have met directors in Mumbai and requested them to cast me in their films. But I did nothing of the sort.
Yes, till now I have done what are generally called ‘art’ films, but I do not want to be typed. Labels like ‘art’ or ‘commercial’ are there only to make the media’s work easier. If you are a woman and are concerned about women’s issues, you are branded a ‘feminist’. This is unfair. I just want to lead life my way.
However, such issues do not affect my life because I do not take myself too seriously. The minute one starts doing that, it means inviting trouble. The world of cinema is replete with stories of quick name and fame—that disappear as fast as they emerge. Somewhere down the line, this reflects in your life and your relationships. I’m trying to hold on to my life. The minute it starts slipping from my hand, I’ll leave films, because for me life is more important than acting.
Presently, I am enjoying every minute in films. But if I don’t get good offers, I’m open to packing my bags and moving on. After all, life is not merely the destination, it’s a journey.
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