Some say being in the profession of acting, grabbing headlines/magazine covers, etc is as important as a hit film. But for actor, director Nandita Das, 41, who makes a return to the big screen with filmmaker Onir’s I Am, the limelight is just a hazard of the profession. “When I tell people that I don’t have a PR person or a manager, they’re a shocked, but I don’t see the need to tell the world everything about me.
Your career is separate from your personal life in any profession, and acting too, is just a profession. I’d rather pursue my other interests or spend time with my son than shoot for magazine covers when not working on a film,” Das says. Considering how well her directorial debut, Firaaq in 2008 did, do these ‘other interests’ include a return to the directorial chair soon?
“Directing is very challenging. After all, you look at a film from a much larger perspective. An actor is just a small part of a film, it just so happens that we’ve now blown them out of proportion. But as and when I come across a story I feel I’d like to tell in my style, I’ll certainly return to directing,” the actor explains.
Quiz her about the tag of being an off-beat actor and Das, who has acted in films in 10 different languages, is rather quick to react. “To say a film or an actor is for a niche audience/style or is a mass entertainer even before it’s released, just limits its possibilities. Eventually, it’s all about whether the audience comes to see the film or not. So I don’t see how these tags help.”
But Das is also quick to admit that the audience now does want a certain new kind of cinema. “Now, you don’t just need a film woven around song and dance sequences for success. People want to see films rooted in reality, perhaps which is why the industry has grown in a certain direction lately,” she says.
So, is this growth on par with that of international cinema? “At the risk of being cynical, Bollywood is still too ruled by the economics of it. There are much smaller countries like Romania, Egypt and Iran, who produce great films that do really well, because they don’t resort to such massive marketing budgets, which in the end, just add pressure to the film to get big returns. Perhaps this is why so many films flop in India.”
On shooting while pregnant
It wasn’t the easiest thing, but then again, every role is a challenge in some manner. The only thing I was worried about was showing my baby bump on screen. But luckily, we managed to hide it quite well.
On controversy around I Am
Off-beat films such as, I Am often draw controversy. That’s because I guess people don’t want to see the reality in such true sense on the screen. Cinema for many, is still about escapism.