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'To me, the extraordinary is glamorous'

Actress Nandana Sen made waves at Cannes last month where she promoted Rang Rasiya. Vajir Singh catches her in a candid mood.
By Vajir Singh | Hindustan Times, Mumbai
UPDATED ON JUN 19, 2008 11:39 AM IST

Aren't you dating Madhu Varma (nephew of Ram Gopal Varma)?
The only Varma that I'm totally obsessed with right now is Raja Ravi Varma.

News is that you're planning to marry Madhu Varma by the year-end.
That's news to me, too. There are no plans of marriage whatsoever

Why weren't you cast in Madhu Varma's production, the Aamir Khan movie Ghajini?
Why should he? It's the director's job to cast a movie. If you were my best friend, would you only keep interviewing me?

After My Wife's Murder, you weren't seen in any Ram Gopal Varma film. Was this because of a rift between Ram Gopal and Madhu Verma?
I'm enormously fond of both of them. Can we return to my favourite Varma, please?

Were you aware of Raja Ravi Varma's work when you were offered Rang Rasiya?
(Smiles) When Ketan and Deepa (Mehta) first walked into my flat, they were stunned to see two life-size reproductions of his paintings on my walls. I've been looking at the face of the woman I was to play for all the five years I've been in Mumbai.

Were you okay with the steamy scenes with Randeep Hooda?
Excuse me, the love story is about emotional not physical intimacy. The film doesn't explore sexuality but sensuality in art and its moral policing. But yes, it was a difficult call. I discussed it with my family... everyone agreed it was okay. The scenes aren't exploitative in any which way.

Is it ethically correct only to concentrate on Raja Ravi Varma's relationship with his muse?
It's not only ethically correct but extremely relevant in dealing with the theme of the censorship of art. Ketan has been brave enough to make the film at a time when freedom of expression everywhere is under siege.

Don't you want to play the typical Bollywood glamorous heroine?
We interpret glamour in our own way. I love my glasses. I'd be blind without them. I find them pretty glamourous, although I'm often told to opt for contacts and show off my figure much more. Anyone can wear sequins and feathers. To me, the extraordinary is glamorous.

Which extraordinary roles are you into, then?
In The Forest, a Hollywood-produced eco-thriller, I play a tough-talking city girl with a gun. I've just finished Sharpe's Peril, a British action adventure which reinvents me as a 19th century Indian princess.

There is another movie The World Unseen, which is set in South Africa during apartheid. I'm hunted by the police. The next few weeks will be busy with Zindabad, an intensely funny political satire by Anubhav Sinha in which I'm an innocent reporter who believes she can change the world.

Don't you want to be seen more in Indian projects?
Strangely I've been getting more exciting work abroad than here. Perhaps I got a bit I typecast here as an 'intellectual' actress - I don't have a clue why because neither Tango Charlie nor My Wife's Murder were excessively intellectual. Or I'm recognised as the heroine's sister from Black. I need to fall madly in love with the script, believe in the character and be comfortable with the filmmaker. I wouldn't suit every Bollywood film and vice versa.

Why did you do Tango Charlie, Marigold and Strangers?
My decisions have been emotional, not strategised. Some were mistakes, some were opportunities. Take Strangers, it was a good film with great reviews which could have worked with proper marketing. You can't keep a good film down. The response has been tremendous since its telecast and release on DVD.

Do you ever feel that your work has gone unnoticed?
To be absolutely honest, I've got much more attention than I deserve. At Prithvi Theatre, I did this play (30 Days in September) in which I was a sexually abused girl who breaks her silence and comes to terms with her trauma. After the first show, a girl with tears in her eyes hugged me and said that she'd just seen herself in a mirror.

show, a gin w me and said that she felt that she'd just seen herself in a mirror. That was the first time she actually broke her own silence about her trauma. We've stayed in touch, we've become great friends. I wouldn't trade moments like these for any amount of generic 'notice.'

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