An alumna of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), actor Rasika Duggal has worked in theatre, cinema and TV. Now, she is set to make her web debut. She has completed shooting for her first TV hosting gig, alongside author Devdutt Pattanaik.
Those who are familiar with the city’s theatre scene would have seen her in Kissa Yoni Ka (the Hindi adaptation of The Vagina Monologues). She has been part of the play since it started being staged eight years ago.
HT Café spoke to her about her chock-a-block schedule, working with directors such as Anurag Kashyap, Ram Gopal Varma and Nandita Das, and her upcoming film on Saadat Hasan Manto.
You have also shot for your first web series. How do you think the mediums — TV, film, stage and web — differ from each other?
Theatre is extremely supportive, in the sense that there’s a dark room, the audience is silent, and you can do your thing. In TV, web and cinema, there are so many energies coming together. That chaos is challenging yet exciting. The web was an extremely new space for me. However, what I found difficult was hosting a TV show, especially on mythology. I was doing it for the first time with Devdutt, and he knows so much about mythology. But it was an enriching experience.
You studied acting at FTII. But your first brush with professional acting was in theatre…
I have done smaller parts in films, but my first major acting stint was in Nadira Babbar’s Romeo And Juliet. After that, I landed a role in The Vagina Monologues. They were looking for actors, and I had watched the play. I love that show. It’s been running for the past eight years now. It’s rare for a play to have such a long run. I can even perform it backwards now (smiles).
You have worked with many prominent directors. Why don’t we see you act in films more often?
I am greedy for roles. I think every actor is. I would love to act in more films, but there are so many actors out there (laughs). I am grateful for the roles I have got. I have done few projects, but interesting ones. For instance, in Kshay (2011), I played a woman who is obsessed with a statue of Goddess Laxmi.I am also excited about my upcoming film with Nandita.
How familiar are you with Manto’s writing?
I completed my graduation from Delhi. Ismat Chughtai and Manto are college staples in Delhi University. Everybody reads their work. However, initially I read only the English translations. Later, when I joined FTII, I made a conscious effort to read in Hindi, and again went back to his short stories. Over the past few years, I have been trying to learn Urdu, and that is when I finally read his work in Urdu. I wouldn’t say I know his work or him inside out, but I love his writing. I enjoy reading works from the Progressive Writer’s Movement (1930s).