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Setting ‘Fire’ (Debut 1996) to all the stereotypes that exist in the Indian Cinema Nandita Das talks candidly about women, being yourself and most importantly accepting yourself just the way you are and being proud of it.
Feministaa presents to you, the bold and beautiful Nandita Das in a candid conversation.
She paved her way into the film industry and left us speechless with her mesmerising performances. This Odissi beauty has dared to explore those labyrinths of Indian Cinema which mainstream actors fear to step their foot into.
“A modern woman is one who has a liberal mind and her liberal ideas are tested by her own children and people around her, by her own life choices.”
Nandita Das has left no stone unturned in pursuing her dream of a gender-just society, through her contribution in social work and movies. This talented actor did her Masters in Social Work from the University of Delhi and worked with various NGOs before she ventured into the film industry and acted in movies of 10 different languages.
“Acting was an Accident”
As a social activist working primarily for upliftment for women and also fighting against discrimination, she describes how her acting career was not a linear journey. She owes the success of her films such as ‘Hazar Chaurasi Ki Ma’ to her zeal for creating a better society for the marginalized. She recalls ‘Fire’ and talks about how acting helped her reach out to the audience and talk about issues that she genuinely cared for.
“When you’re acting in various films, you’ll also start itching to tell your own story”
This is when ‘Firaaq’ was born, a story that she could recite to the world in her own words. She talks about how the 2002 Gujarat riots left an unpleasant mark in her life. She is one of those people, who would see something wrong, and do something about it. She was ‘compelled’ to step forward and direct ‘Firaaq’. The story weaves around the after-effects of the Gujarat riots and the turbulent human emotions that a riot-affected family goes through.
“When your conviction is strong, you don’t have to look for courage. It will automatically follow”
On speaking about courage and conviction, she recalls the kind of reception ‘Fire’ was given. There was Police outside her house, people were physically dragged outside theatres and many cineplexes were burnt down.
“Violence only begets violence. It can never be a solution to anything.”
She speaks with confidence how none of this has deterred her from making or doing the kind of meaningful cinema that she does.
“Many people have inspired me and they are not big names. They are ‘ordinary’ people.”
She smiles amiably and tells us that the ‘ordinary’ people that inspired her are extraordinary in all respect. She strongly believes that all people that had conviction in what they believe and dared the evils of the society, command respect.
Feministaa wishes the actor, which has given the Indian Cinema remarkable and path-breaking films like ‘Ramchand Pakistani’, ‘Before the rains’, ‘Earth’, ‘Kamli’ and many more, a beautiful life ahead.
Nandita Das continues to ignite a fire within millions of women and inspire them to strive hard and do what they genuinely feel is correct.