Neeraparavai releases today, and what we’ve seen has made us quite excited. Could you tell us more about your role in the film and the other projects fans can look forward to you in?
I recently completed work two films — one Tamil and one Hindi film. As my son Vihaan is only two years old, I consciously took only a week’s commitment at a time, but both these projects had powerful stories and I play a pivotal character in the film, even though the screen time is not enormous. Neeraparavai deals with the subject of the fishermen who innocently cross the international borders in the sea and get either shot or caught by the other country. Its a heartwarming story which is both personal and political. I play an important role, that of the fisherman’s wife who questions the injustice. My last three years were very hectic, as a new mother and as the Chairperson of CFSI, so working on a directorial film was out of the question. I will start working on it sometime next year. I am reading scripts and there are some very exciting offers, but too early to give the names. I am also doing an interesting play, again with my husband playing my husband, but with a French director as part of the Bonjour India celebrations.
From playing all sorts of mothers on-screen, you are now finally a mother in real-life too. How different is it and did your screen roles prepare you in some way for the real deal?
I thought it would… at least to some extent! Nothing prepares you for motherhood! I think now when I play a mother, I will be able to draw from my emotional bank, something special that I have felt in the last two years. I couldn’t ever imagined a free spirited nomad like me would love motherhood so much. Of course it has huge challenges and I am juggling a lot more these days, but it is delightful to grow with a child. I am learning to look at things afresh.
Several of your films never see mainstream releases and hence audiences around the world miss out on great performances, great stories and even greater movies — your view on this fractured film industry?
In an Utopian film industry different people would get opportunities to tell their stories and where economics would not dictate art. But sadly that’s not the case. I have always been on the fringes of the industry. After all I have done my 30 odd films from Delhi, in 10 different languages. I instinctively anchor towards powerful stories, those that resonate with me, interest me and if I start to worry about it’s box office success then I would never be able to be part of these stories that I feel need to be told. I have not shied away from being open about the fact that the hard core mainstream cinema is not something that I relate to. While I dislike art and commercial labels, I have realised being labelled is inevitable. So instead of worrying about them, it is more important to be honest about what one really wants to do, and focus on that. I do understand that if one doesn’t do commercial mainstream projects then one’s marketability decreases and even the projects one likes, is difficult to get, as everybody needs more marketable stars. Anyhow, not being ambitious has helped me in freeing myself from all these pressures. Like our world today which is sadly unjust, inequitable and fractured, so is the industry.
And finally — acting, film direction and now theatre and direction; what next?
Who knows! I enjoy all of these and more! I also write a monthly column, speak at various forums, and so doing different things keeps me going.