|the-south-asian.com DECEMBER 2001|
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DECEMBER 2001 Contents
Page 3 of 3
- is she the 'Renaissance Woman'?
Isiodore Domnick Mendis
Does she agree with the charge that Deepa Mehta thrives on films depicting the underbelly of India--images that the west loves to see? " Tell me, do you see real India in Bollywood films? Do all Indians live in palatial houses, wear garish clothes, go vacationing in Europe and they dance under the Eiffel Tower? Is that real India? Or is this real India where you portray reality?"
But why does her name crop up whenever Deepa Mehta makes a film? Nandita shrugs her shoulders. " If there wasn't a role for me in her film, she wouldn't approach me. She probably feels I understand her mind. It's like Satyajit Ray casting Soumitra Chatterjee in most of his films. But she's doing a new film in which I am not there. So there's no contract that whenever she makes a film I have to be there."
Some observers suggest that one of Nandita's problem might be that she herself may possess immense acting craft and her performances may be marvellous but art films like Deepa Mehta's Fire and Earth have such limited viewership that there's a danger of Nandita going unnoticed.
Nandita says that she's never made a conscious effort to be a crowd puller and she's also not looked down upon commercial cinema. "Art cinema can also be boring and pretentious and hard core commercial cinema can also be frivolous and frothy. So one has to find a middle road somewhere."
She says she won't like to confine herself only to serious cinema. She intends to do different kind of roles---thrillers, romantic comedies, anything " that excites my heart and mind. It doesn't necessarily have to be an art film. In any case, the differentiation has never been there for good filmmakers. See films by masters like Guru Dutt and Bimal Roy’s film and you won't be able to decide whether it's art or commercial cinema. Or take more recent releases like Maachis and Kya Kehna. A lot of good directors are crossing over."
That's the kind of films she'd like to do. Maybe another Aks, never mind if it fell flat on its face at the box office. But she definitely won't do a hardcore commercial film. " Govinda is a great actor and I'd like to work with him. But with due respect, all that he does I may not like to do. Maybe someday we might like to work on something we both like."
Nandita jealously guards her privacy and dislikes celebrity status. She's had a sunny childhood and now lives in a tastefully done up apartment in Delhi's posh Gulmohar Park. The glamour life of Bollywood hasn't touched Nandita. Acting, she says, is still not her ultimate goal. " There are so many things to do in life. Maybe I'll keep doing films. But there's no urge to act just for acting. I'd like to do roles I am drawn to, roles that I believe in, films dealing with issues that trouble me. Nothing more. Nothing less."
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