the-south-asian.com April 2003
Page 2 of 2
- ON THEIR OWN TRACKS
Isidore Domnick Mendis
Saina, daughter of Indiaís first lady police officer Kiran Bedi, runs an NGO and has just launched her first critically acclaimed TV serial, Galati Kiski . Penned by her mother, the gritty supercop, it is based on startling voluntary disclosures of people with a murky past and their struggle to reform. Though dealing with the social issues, the series has been handled very sensitively and made artistically.
" I really look up to mom and could have happily become a police officer. But my poor health prevented me from doing so," says Saina who developed a kidney problem at age three and by the time she was 13 got afflicted with a skin ailment and had to completely avoid the sunlight after that.
Though she had to drop out in the fourth year of her medical degree from Delhiís Lady Harding College, she did not lose heart. Armed with her motherís grit and determination she did her bachelorís in psychology from America and now handles the affairs of India Vision Foundation a leading NGO set up by her mother. The NGO takes up issues of prison reforms, drug abuse, empowerment of women, rural development and more. Saina is also producing the TV serial, Galti Kiski.
" Two of the best things Iíve learnt from my mother are the power of honesty and simplicity. She has achieved name and eminence because of being a thoroughly upright person," says Saina
Art and acting mix well in the Das household as well. Painting should have come naturally to the daughter of India's celebrated artist, Jatin Das. " It did," says Nandita, " but I stopped painting when I was in the eighth class in Delhi's Sardar Patel Vidayala. That was because people would say, 'Oh, you are Jatin Das' daughter, so when are you going to start painting?' Just because my father is a painter was not reason enough for me to be one."
To her credit, her parents never pressurized Nandita to pursue any particular career. "As a child I learnt dance, a bit of music and, of course, painting. More importantly, since my father is a well known artist I grew up in the company of culturally-oriented people."
After her post graduation from the Delhi School of Social Work, Nandita joined Safdar Hashmi's Janmnatya Manch doing street theatre. " It was during these days she visited Mumbai and happened to meet Deepa Mehta who signed her for Fire. " I accepted the offer as the role was very challenging and the theme very bold."
Even after a dozen odd movies, Nandita takes on only those roles that she knows she'll enjoy doing. And these have included such cinematic milestones as Govind Nihlaniís Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa, Shyam Benegalís Hari Bhari, Deepa Mehtaís Fire, Earth and the unfinished Water.
Besides, Nandita is proving quite a linguist what with roles in a host of regional films like Azhagi [Tamil], Deveeri [Kannada], Punaradhivasam [Malyalam] and Sapner Sandhane [Bengali]. Her Bollywood ventures include Aks, Pitah, Lal Salam, Bhawandar and now Bas Tum Hi and the new Tamil blockbuster Kannathil Muthamittal.
Annie Thomas " .. wanted to be either a doctor or a nun. I could become none so I took to modelling and entered the Miss India beauty pageant," says the 1999 Miss India. Annieís mother Rachael Thomas is the much felicitated Indiaís first and only civilian woman skydiver. " I guess I never had the brave heart she possesses to jump out of airplanes from dizzy heights. But my mother never foisted her profession on me," says the Dubai-based Annie who is now an event manager. Despite not following in her motherís footsteps, Annie holds her in high esteem. " Sheís still my idol," she says.
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