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Face to Face with Nandita Das

Nandita Das: In All 'Image'ry!

From 'Fire' to 'Earth' she now goes on to deal with her 'reflection' in Rakesh Mehra's 'Aks.' Some feel that it is a deliberate effort on her part to get into mainstream cinema. But she is insistent that there is much more substance to her decisions - something we call 'instinct and gut'. Her talent, her attitude and her belief in herself, and the work she does, are the surviving elements that have helped the actress surpass the limitations of a petty mind and claustrophobic thinking.

Nandita Das in an 'Aks' exclusive!

Is 'Aks' your catalyst to enter commercial cinema?

NANDITA DAS: "It's not really a shift to commercial cinema. And I have never worked that way or thought that way. I am doing a Mani Ratnam film, I am doing a small Tamil film, I am doing a Bengali film in December, I am to meet Priyadarsan now… So, it's not about big or small or who it is with or what genre it fits into… 'Aks' is just a film that I feel excited about, and if there's any film that strikes with me, I'll do it."

You weren't featured too much in the 'Aks' promos. Did you feel left out?

NANDITA: "One has to be realistic in such things. The first objective of marketing of any film is to do all that you can to get the audiences in. With the kind of films I have done, it's not that the rickshaw-walas and the paanwalas and the shopkeepers are dying to see Nandita Das; they are dying to see Amitabh Bachchan and they're dying 

to see Raveena Tandon. That's what would 

get the audiences into the theatre and once they are in the theatre then they'll get to see the whole thing, even me. It is nothing to feel bad about." "It's not about big or small or who it is with or what genre it fits into… 'Aks' is just a film that I feel excited about, and if there's any film that strikes with me I'll do it."


You play Amitabh's wife in the film. Wouldn't the age difference between you and Amitabh Bachchan show on screen?

NANDITA: "Its meant to. It's everybody playing their own age. I am not pretending to be older and nor is he pretending to be younger. So, initially when the role came to me I was also very sceptical and felt that this is bad casting. And may be I shouldn't be there at all. I had earlier actually said no to the film, and had stopped thinking about it completely, till after two months Rakesh calls me up again and tells me, "Look, I've been thinking and I really want you to do it." Then I read the script and told him, I don't like this and I don't like that, we sat with the writer, and we worked on it for almost three to four months. And then it was too late to say no.
I told him that if u give me a white streak or make Amitabh look younger it's not going to work, because ultimately he looks what he looks and I look what I look. But within that we can make it a believable relationship. Because a couple is not a couple by the way they look, they become a couple on the basis of how they behave with each other. And 

if we have nice solid scenes which are couple-like - having good times, going through a crisis together, fighting - everything that makes a couple - everything that makes it a real relationship, I think people will believe." "A couple is not a couple by the way they look, they become a couple on the basis of how they behave with each other."

You have done films that actually span the length and breadth of the country, and each film fitting in its respective genre. How different are the working systems and the ambience on the sets?

NANDITA: "Every set is different. The smaller films are far more informal, and everybody is treated equally. The bigger films are far more structured and have people's designations far better defined. And even the gender bias between men and women is not unusual. Yet one can't always make generalistaions. Like in Rakesh's film, the people involved were all new and we all became such good friends."

How was it working Mr. Bachchan?

NANDITA: "Well, he's an iconic figure in the film industry. There are so many people who have grown up watching his films. The only thing is that I have not really grown up seeing commercial films. So, I was excited to work with him but I was not nervous. Also, I feel a film is teamwork and everybody has to do his or her own bit. You can't be so much in awe that you can't perform. And sometimes when I say, "Look, I am not over-awed by people," they misunderstand it as being arrogant. But to admire somebody or to respect somebody is very different than being in awe of somebody. And I definitely admire and respect Mr. Bachchan."


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