What do you do for a living and is this your primary vocation?
Even after all these years I hesitate to say I act for a living, because truly acting allows me to live and that it pays my bills is just a bonus! It is the only profession, I think I am suitable for as of now, but who knows it may change. I take diversions every decade.
Considering your educational background in English literature and teaching, did acting happen by chance or was it something you were always inclined to?
I grew up with a stammer and lived most of my school life in monosyllables. Acting was never even a consideration. I thought I was just born to read books in solitude. While I was in college, I saw Piyush Mishra's one man show, and a deep sense of longing to peek into this world took a stubborn hold of me. I auditioned for a non speaking part (lucky for me!) and got it. Each subsequent show, my body opened up and stopped listening to the cops in my head. My stammer did not have a chance to survive in this fertile world of imagination. Acting even today, continues to be an act of defiance against my personal limitations.
How have you grown personally after your first success with Monsoon Wedding? What are some of your most important learnings?
Monsoon Wedding was my first film and the camera was like a friendly voyeur. I knew more about Victorian literature then, than acting. But playing Alice helped me enter a wonderland so shiny and so exciting that one did not see the dangers lurking in the wings. The pitfalls and understandings about how exciting and fickle this profession can be were gained after many a falls much later. Despite the unpredictable nature of my profession, the rise and fall, the biggest learning has been to do things that nurture the inner voice that wants to keep growing as an actor and silence the nay-sayers inside my head and outside.
Who makes you smile the most?
My partner, the inimitable Mr Ross has no social filters whatsoever and living with him is being in a world where the inappropriate becomes the norm. Smile would be an understatement, he makes me laugh my head off.
What keeps you up at night and what helps you wake up every morning?
A sense of unease with my mediocrity keeps me awake but also wakes me up so I can start polishing away the patina that so easily sets in, in this humid city of Bombay.
*Photo courtesy: Shivaji Storm Sen