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‘It was necessary for me to take a pause and view my life from a different perspective’

  • Published at 10:53 pm November 9th, 2018
web-Manisha Koirala
Bollywood actor Manisha Koirala Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

The actor spoke with the Dhaka Tribune Showtime’s Sadia Khalid about her sudden break, her new roles, and Bollywood sexism

Bollywood superstar Manisha Koirala will appear at the Dhaka Lit Fest 2018 today to discuss her upcoming book, “Healed.” The actor spoke with the Dhaka Tribune Showtime’s Sadia Khalid about her sudden break, her new roles, and Bollywood sexism

You were part of many significant movies during the 1990s but later took a break. Why?

I took a break due to my illness. As per my career in films, I think that break was necessary for me to take a pause and view my life from a different perspective. I believe that one should take a step back sometimes in order to get hold of a clearer picture of life, and that phase has brought me to this position where I treat my life in a wholesome manner.

How did the break influence your Bollywood comeback?

Before, my only focus was to work and I did movies which I didn’t feel secure about. My focus has changed now because the quality of life is important to me. I have decided to give time to myself, my family; in fact I even found the time to write a book. That phase taught me to enjoy my life and see everything around me from a bird’s eye view rather than a worm’s eye view.

What is “Healed” about?

The book is about my healing process, what I discovered during that period, and how my values have evolved through the process. It will be published by Penguin Random House India, hopefully by the end of December or at the beginning of next year. I really enjoyed while writing this book and I think I have many more stories to share.

Many of your contemporary male actors in Bollywood are acting in romantic roles with much younger women. What is your take on this? 

I think the core of this sexism lies within our mentality where we are okay with a younger woman performing with a senior actor but the vice versa takes everyone aback. I think it’s high time to give equal space and opportunity to everyone rather than providing privileges based on any particular gender.

I really appreciate how there is women empowerment today and more women are addressing various issues. Now people do listen to what they have to say. I still think a lot needs to be changed, but we have started progressing since the start of my time.

Do you foresee more leading ladies in films who are aged over 40? 

I am not so sure about it but I hope so, since cinema represents life, and life does not end in middle age. During this age, a woman gets a strong purpose and voice in life, which I think everyone must explore. I hope more ladies will come to share their story and defy Bollywood’s obsession for younger women.

Female actors are always under pressure to look younger. Does this pressure ever get to you?

Yes it does, to be very honest. In a profession like ours, where there is constant pressure to look good and be presentable, I think many get scared and carried away to fit in. I have been told multiple times that I looked old and I felt bad about it. However, my illness has transformed me and I believe aging is a natural process like any other thing in life and it should not be looked down upon.  One should have a strong mind to not feel bothered about another’s way of looking at things, and accept the way they are.

What lies ahead for you?

I have just completed shooting for a film titled “Prasthanam.” I have three more interesting stories in my hand now and I am looking forward to them. Besides, I have set some goals for me in 2019 where I will go trekking, have a reunion with my school friends, visit Kumbh Mela and expose my life to a myriad of experiences.

You are so popular in Bangladesh and people love you very much. How do you feel about the audiences here?

I felt really humbled when they waited for hours to meet me. I could feel the love and consider this to be a gift of being an actor. I told many people that I don’t feel tired while posing for the camera because I feel grateful for such affection and feel lucky to receive this blessing. Bangladeshi audiences are fantastic and I hope I have lived up to their expectations.