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Nandana Dev Sen: It’s not possible to not be affected by Padmavati row

Actor Nandana Dev Sen, who worked with filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali in Black, and has voiced her opinion for the right to freedom of expression in the past, says she’s upset with what is happening in the Hindi film industry today.

bollywood Updated: Dec 04, 2017 12:44 IST
Henna Rakheja
Henna Rakheja
Hindustan Times
Nandana Dev Sen,Padmavati,Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Actor Nandana Sen says it does affect her when the freedom of expression is curbed.

Actor Nandana Dev Sen is known to have voiced her opinion for the cause of free speech and right to creative freedom in the past. At present, when Sanjay Leela Bhansali is facing unending pressure ahead of the release of his new film, Padmavati, Nandana, who had collaborated with him in Black (2005), says, “Of course I feel bad,” in the context of the industry falling back into the vortex of curb on freedom of expression. “It’s constantly one step forward, two steps backward. And, it’s not possible to not to be affected or disturbed by it,” she says.

The actor was last seen in Ketan Mehta’s controversial film Rang Rasiya, also starring actor Randeep Hooda, which faced censorship problems because of a few bold scenes. The film was made in 2008 and even premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, but released in theatres in India after six years, in 2014.

Nandana explains why she has always been “drawn to films that have some strong social or political consciousness. For example, Black, as you know, is about the rights of children with disabilities. Rang Rasiya focused on freedom of expression and religious intolerance. I’ve done films on apartheid, on wars within India and women being its casualties, on international terrorism and suicide bombing, on LGBT rights. These are issues I feel very strongly about, consequently I seem to have specialised in obscure independent films from all over the world. (Laughs) But in India, given that I never pursued a mainstream career, I’ve been lucky to work with the master filmmakers.”

Her selection has been limited and she doesn’t shy away from accepting the fact. “I have always been eccentric in my choices as an actor. I’m often teased by friends about why I choose films that are either impossible to make or impossible to sell! But that’s my taste. So, when people call me ‘choosy’ it’s just a generous way of saying [that I have been] stubborn, and often irrational (with no regrets, mind you). I have always been attracted to fresh, quirky stories and characters that are not stereotypical in any way. The reason why I don’t do more films is because I am drawn to only those which have a thematic layer that moves me beyond being just a good or sweet story, or a star-studded cast. I’m drawn to cinema as an art form because I have always believed that films can truly change the way we look at the world, and promote empathy. In fact, this belief informs my passion for children’s books as well. I believe in the transformative power of both mediums,” says Sen who is presently busy devoting time to writing children’s literature.

Considering she has never worked with the same set of people for a second time, will she collaborate with Sanjay Leela Bhansali or Ketan Mehta, again? Sen says, “If the project is right for me, and if I am right for the project, then why not? But films take a lot of time to make, which equals time away from writing. So, any film I choose to immerse myself in would have to justify the opportunity cost of not writing!”

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First Published: Dec 04, 2017 12:11 IST