But when Dibakar’s film came, I had to make a choice. Every director I have worked with, from Subhash Ghai in Saudagar (1991), has helped me understand acting. Some people were sceptical if I was healthy enough to do long shifts. My mother, who was initially keen that I do Vinod’s film, got worried and tried to dissuade me. I was not that intelligent or calculating. It does not bother me now. Do you still regret refusing the role in Dil Toh Pagal Hai which Karisma Kapoor played? I don’t want to lose that ever or let go of the sense of free spirit. Express Photo by Amit Chakravarty
Did you think that some of your movies in the ’90s would go on to be landmarks of the cinema of the time? Once this movie releases, I will take a long break and get my routine back. And then, of course, there was Mani Sir. That would relax me a little. I want to be like a horse with blinkers on. Cinematographer Ashok Mehta fired me: ‘Pagal ho gayi ho (Have you lost it)? So, I decided to let my schedule take a backseat for a while. By the end of this year, it will be five years since I became cancer-free. Now, every year I travel to different places — to the hills or the jungles. Is there any commonality between the filmmakers you started with and contemporary stalwarts? Do you think it was Mani Ratnam’s Bombay (1995) that made people see you as a ‘serious’ actor? Apart from playing the role of Nargis Dutt in the Rajkumar Hirani-directed Dutt, I am in Dibakar Banerjee’s segment of Bombay Talkies 2. For me, it is very important to take a break, recharge myself and then do a good job. What’s common among them are their passion and intelligence. He portrayed his actresses so beautifully in amazing love stories that had great music. It was not easy for me, in my 40s, to bounce back, especially after cancer. However, they say, in my type of cancer, it takes, at least, six-seven years for someone to be out of the woods. At the end of the day, I would take off the make-up and go to sleep. I am so glad I did it because I experience a new life and energy when I work with a good director. While shooting my third film, Dushmani (1995), I remember director Shekhar Kapur asking me to ‘flirt with the camera’. To get my health back took a lot of effort. Now, I give talks on it. If I love my work and wish to excel in it, I have to take time off. You never seemed comfortable with comedies though. Are you happy with the kind of roles you are getting now? You always prefer to travel solo to distant lands. You are someone who manages to bounce back after every rough patch. I was more impulsive and instinctive. Do you wish to direct or write? I would wake up, take a shower and rush to a shoot. I would put the make-up on and shoot the whole day. As an actor, I need to see myself grow. Even during this period, I realised my life feels a little empty without acting. I believe being a rebel gives you a sense of freedom. He taught me to work hard. Then I thought, when would I get another movie by Dibakar? The same can be said for Mani Ratnam, who couldn’t look beyond the movie he was working on. Sanjay Leela Bhansali, for example, is so passionate and he lives for cinema. I wanted to experience life and there was a time I worked three shifts a day, almost 18 hours a day, no weekly offs or holidays. I found Dibakar to be exactly the same. I was never comfortable with comedy. Yet, I don’t want to waste my time just rebelling. In today’s scenario, I have to work extra hard, especially when I can’t be what I was 20 years ago. I need to be inspired by a project. See photo
You have done a course in filmmaking from New York. Absolutely right. I would definitely not be happy if I did the same things that I did 20 years ago. I can narrate stories, but I am only good at writing in my diary. But I have learnt to take compliments well. I had the scene with me and all night long, I kept rehearsing like a madwoman. I was nervous and I asked writer-director Sunaina Bhatnagar to do as many readings of it as possible. For all the latest Entertainment News, download Indian Express App now There are times, I have done 12 movies a year. My routine these days has been to go to bed by 10 pm and wake up by 6 am. That’s right. Early on, you worked with a number of big directors. 2017-05-28T00:00:52+00:00″>
Published:May 28, 2017 12:00 am
Manisha Koirala speaks about how she loves being an actor. You have become a lot more positive about life after your illness. Chemo spoils your internal health. Express Photo by Amit Chakravarty
You once said you didn’t consider yourself to be beautiful. Someday, I will direct. Till very late in my life, I never considered myself pretty. I believe all of us can do that, provided we are willing to work extra hard. How do you sustain your drive and passion for acting? My health is in control too. How difficult has it been to return to the sets? The entire film was shot during the night and required long hours. Express Photo by Amit Chakravarty
When you were younger, I believe you toyed with other career options? I was just out of school and I kept wondering what does he mean by that? I love being an actor, though at present I’m anxious about the release of Dear Maya on June 2. Not so often anymore. When you are young, you rebel because you don’t wish to follow the trend. Now, I would want to take up roles more suited to my age and contemporary cinematic sensibilities. I have always had a very vivid imagination but I am not great at penning my thoughts. However, I always wanted to work with Yash Chopra after watching Silsila, Chandni and Lamhe. I will always have that regret. Also read: Priyanka Chopra’s Baywatch reviews aren’t bothering her, she is relaxing and gearing up for bigger things. When I went on the Kapil Sharma Show recently, I was not quite at ease. There, I wake up, meditate and connect with different kinds of people. I love Dibakar’s storytelling. In Bombay, I played mother to a 10-year-old. Once the movie was over, he was a normal person. Their fear was genuine. I was so ashamed that I asked him to give me one more chance. I was hesitant to take it up as I was in my early 20s and feared I would be typecast. That was fun and great back then. I thought I wore make-up, put on wigs and the cameramen were excellent — that made me look beautiful. The space there is completely different from the glamour world. For the last three years, I have been going to the Oneness University in Andhra Pradesh. Do you still do that? So, I had people guiding me throughout. You have called yourself ‘a born rebel’ a number of times…
With age and maturity, I have relaxed a lot. When I work with these directors, I learn so much. I did comedy movies because I wanted to venture out and try something different. Now that I’m back to acting, I have understood one thing; if I get into a routine of shooting every day, I will get bored. With Vidhu Vinod Chopra in 1994, when I gave the screen test for 1942: A Love Story, he told me: ‘You are a shit actress’. I’m very happy, and in a good space. Do you know whom you are refusing?’. As much as I can, I wish to give my 100 per cent. What suits me is philosophical and political conversations. You have talked about wanting to adopt a girl child. It is already late, I don’t want to wait longer. After seeing my second screen test, Vinod said there was a world of difference and that’s how I’d have to act throughout the movie. Some people I was associated with in the past worked very hard. I reached a point when I was fed up with it and started questioning myself: ‘Is this all to life?’ Then, I grew detached from my work and bored of acting. If I put that kind of money in a project, I too would have such hesitations. Actress Manisha Koirala. When I read the script of Dear Maya, I wanted to get the character right. I do want to adopt. The right things happened to me and I was surrounded by some good people. So, reading about how to maintain my health became my passion. Otherwise, I am happy to be a couch potato and spend time with my family or visit Nepal. There are zillions of pretty girls. Once I returned to Mumbai after my treatment, my whole focus was on regaining my health. It’s a realisation that I should not take life for granted anymore.