News|January 4, 2012 6:43 pm

Nandita: Motherhood has made me choosy about films

No, Nandita Das is not expecting a baby, Nandita who is the first Indian woman to be inducted into the International Women’s Forum’s (IWF) Women’s Hall of Fame at a glittering ceremony in Washington DC, spoke about supporting children’s films, as she is the chairperson of the Children’s Film Society of India.

Here is Nandita Das’s Interview,

How did it feel to be inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame?

I was quite surprised when I got it. I had attended their international women’s conference early this year in Rome and had spoken on the role of cinema in social change. I spoke of my experiences from street theatre and the kind of films I have chosen to act in and direct.

It’s a validation of one’s choices — you feel good, you feel a little encouraged. There are people who think I’ve made wrong choices. I have a lot of well wishers who feel I’ve missed the bus and that I should have done more commercial films. They said big actors like Shabana Azmi and Smita Patil also did commercial films.

The award was given in Washington DC in an old, beautiful museum building. There was a proper sit-down dinner and a 100-member symphony orchestra.

It was quite a big deal and I didn’t realize it then. Some amazing women like Rosa Parks, Audrey Hepburn and a whole lot of others have been part of the Hall of Fame. I guess it is very prestigious. I didn’t know till I went. I didn’t even tell my parents about it till the very last minute!

Your last film was Onir’s I am. Are you thinking of getting back to acting?

I have about eight or nine scripts. I have just not had the time to read them. I hope to start when Vihaan (her 15-month-old son) is about a year and a half. Hopefully, by March, I may take up a project.

When Deepa’s (Mehta) film offer of Midnight’s Children came, Vihaan was six months old and there was no way I could do it.

How has motherhood changed you?

Priorities change. I was traveling all the time, I was free spirited. Suddenly, you have this baby and you have to be responsible, and that changes the perspective.

A child really pushes you to be a better person because he is going to be a sponge, soak in everything, not just what you say but what you are.

Has your son changed you completely?

The core remains the same. I’m much more grounded. I’m much more at home. I didn’t think I would enjoy it so much. I’m a much calmer person, less restless, more patient, more positive and in some ways more philosophical. It’s a journey.

How supportive has your husband been in your work?

When Vihaan was born, my husband also took time off. He wanted to enjoy parenting. He’s from the fringes of the corporate world and wants to do something more creative. So there’s a mutual respect.

When I went to Washington DC, he came with me as we didn’t take a nanny along. We handled Vihaan together, though of course, the woman lands up doing much more. I don’t think Indian men are trained well enough to share.

Are you thinking of acting and direction?

I’m thinking of both. Direction requires a story that can sustain your interest for a longer time and I really haven’t found that story that would really work.

Would you take up somebody else’s story to direct?

Yes, I’m happy to take it up but then it should come to me. Or if there’s a wonderful book which can be adapted.

What are the issues you are looking at now?

Issues of gender, violence, marginalized voices that get muffled or never really find a platform.

Would you want to get back to theater? You were last seen in Roysten Abel’s play with Shabana Azmi.

That was a nice play. I don’t plan too much. I have always enjoyed doing different mediums, to share, to communicate. I’ve never chosen films based on language. There are some films coming from Tamil, Malayalam and Bengali. I have to sit and read.

I was always choosy. Now I’ve become more choosy because I have to give up something to do the film. So, it better be worth it!