Since being yesteryear’s art house poster girl, Deepti Naval has donned many other roles, trying her hand at photography, poems and paintings. Now, the actor is out with her debut book, titled Mad Tibetan: Stories From Then And Now. The anthology, comprising 11 short stories, explores different facets of her life.
In the title story, The Mad Tibetan, Deepti plays a wandering photographer seen lurking around the picturesque locales of Ladakh, with her Canon EOS 50 in hand, as she encounters the eponymous, free-spirited character. In another story (Thulli), Deepti takes over her Bollywood actor persona, as she visits Kamathipura to prepare for a role of a prostitute.
“I always knew the book would be written in first person,” she says, adding, “I didn’t really see it as revealing different aspects of life — as actor, photographer, artist — though. It just allows the writer to present an honest, candid story.” Deepti’s stories travel from Mumbai, Himachal, Punjab, Ladakh to New York geographically and explore her life as a young schoolgirl in awe of actor Balraj Sahni, to becoming a popular face in Bollywood.
They recollect incidents from the 1980s to the recent past touching on topics as diverse as a piano tuner’s life to a Bollywood struggler’s dream, abused children and broken relationships. But ask the sombre actor if she keeps up with her dark image through her writing and she’s quick to add, “My last book of poems may have been that but this one is about life. It captures different aspects, so you’ll find joy and sorrow in equal measure. I smile a lot in real life, even though my films don’t allow me to,” she insists.
The actor-writer’s love affair with the city is seen through three stories set in Mumbai — The Piano Tuner, Thulli and Bombay Central. “Bombay has so much to give if you are a writer. You can’t outgrow it and its people,” she feels. Her book will be translated in Hindi, Marathi, Telegu and Tamil. “I would want non-English readers to read my book too. They are all stories of life, from things around me,” says Deepti, who also confesses that she’s a sucker for biographies. Ask her how much of her inner self she has revealed in the book and she says, “Just as much as I wanted to. But I do plan on writing my autobiography someday,” she adds.