They call you the queen of parallel cinema.
(Laughs) Really? May be because of my choice of films. But personally, I don’t believe in streams. It’s debatable what qualifies as mainstream. If it means a commercially successful film, then I’ve had hits too.
It’s just that I’m a trained actress and have always been miles away from the so-called mainstream. There have been lots of offers for naach gaana movies and I’m open to them. But I want parts that inspire me. Like Brick Lane, your most critically acclaimed movie to date.
Yeah, box office collections in the UK and the US were astounding.. matched only by a few Hindi movies. I was nominated for awards alongside Judy Dench and Anne Hathway. Judy Dench is my role model.. she infuses life into all her characters. The film should release in India sometime this year.
There’s also Bhopal: A prayer for Rain on the gas tragedy. It revolves around one family but the perspective is universal. It has an ensemble cast toplining Martin Sheen.
Martin Sheen? (Laughs) Yup, that brilliant actor from Departed. I grew up on his movies. I still have some of the DVDs. I’m really looking forward to working with him. Barah Anna released recently.
Did you catch it?
It’s about the disparity in our society.. about aspirations. It was a treat working with Naseer (Naseeruddin Shah).
And now you have Days of Love and Loss and White Elephant coming up.
Yeah, later this year or early next year. White Elephant is a children’s movie that in a subtle way deals with environment preservation. Right now it’s being screened on the festival circuit. Days of Love and Loss is about urban relationships.. it revolves around three individuals.
But does this kind of cinema have an audience except critics?
It has a huge intelligent audience. That’s why Brick Lane and Taare Zameen Par worked. Sensible cinema is alive and thriving. Content is god and marketing the best way of worship.
How did a chemistry major turn into a movie star?
(Smiles) I have friends who have a masters in chemistry and are still struggling. I wanted to explore, meet people, travel and do something creative. Theatre and movies was the way out. My parents weren’t in favour of this but you have only one life and this was my chance to live it.
You are a singer too.. you’ve given playback for some of your movies.
Yeah, I’ve sung a song each for Road and Page 3. My friends called me to the studio and casually asked me to record a song. I did. Unfortunately, this Hindustani trained classical singer is not singing for any of her upcoming films because there’s no scope for songs in them. But I will sing in future, I promise.