'I'm having the best of both the worlds'

international face

A summer workshop at the National School of Drama paved way for a Chemistry student at Delhi University’s Sri Venkateswara College, to explore her acting skills.

“I had initially decided to take a sabbatical after graduation before taking up research in pollution control or doing an MBA, but that never happened,” and Tannishtha Chatterjee entered the league of Indian actors leaving their imprints in foreign projects.

“Like in every upper class family, children are expected to take academics seriously, I too was expected to do the same. But it was the film Swaraj which made me say ‘yes’ to acting,” says Chatterjee about the National Award-winning feature.

“I later worked in a play and thereafter moved to Bombay (sic). Films kept coming to me one by one and there was no looking back after that.” And no one could doubt her abilities after seeing her performances in Shadows of Time (German film) and Brick Lane (British film).

While the former brought her critical acclaim, the latter gave her exposure. “Even though it is clichéd, I always believe that ‘Life is something that happens to you while you still keep making plans’,” says the actor who thought she would just do one film and get back to her education.

However, even after having been recognised for her work in the industry, including her part in Madhuri Dixit-starrer Gulaab Gang, she still remains a common face.

Chatterjee, however, enjoys her naturally unconventional appearance. “I walk at the red carpet as a star and can walk on the street and lead a normal life too. I am actually having the best of both the worlds.”

She admits, “As an artiste I love the fashion aspect of the red carpet, but I don’t take it seriously than that moment. Unlike my image in films, in real life I am very fashionable,” she jests confessing, “I don’t want to end up as an obsessed actor!” 

“I never went to directors and somehow films that came to me were far more fulfilling for an actor. I was looking for parts which challenged a young girl out of drama school and I got them. I am a trained actor and didn’t want to play the eye candy,” she says. Her body of work consists mostly serious films. And she doesn’t shy from admitting, “I am a very political person.”

No wonder she chose to be part of the upcoming film Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain, based on the infamous Bhopal Gas Tragedy. “Even after 30 years of the mishap that took place at the factory of Union Carbide, people who suffered haven’t been compensated. People ask me what is the point in releasing the film now when former Union Carbide chairman Warren Anderson is dead? But I need to ask, how do you compensate for a loss that has been borne by generations? One man is not a villain, but it is the entire system that we all are part of. This film has a much bigger canvas and stresses on accountability. We are repeating a lot of things today that Union Carbide did then!”     

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