Cast away

Actor Tannishtha Chatterjee has landed in Mumbai amidst the buzz that surrounds Slumdog Millionaire star Freida Pinto and her red carpet walk.

Written by DIPTI NAGPAUL D’SOUZA | Published: March 11, 2009 3:18 am

Tannishtha Chatterjee doesn’t mind being overlooked by Bollywood

Actor Tannishtha Chatterjee has landed in Mumbai amidst the buzz that surrounds Slumdog Millionaire star Freida Pinto and her red carpet walk. But unlike Pinto,the 29-year-old,who was nominated as the Best Actress for the British Independent Film Awards alongside Anne Hathaway and Judi Dench in 2007 for her role in Sarah Gavron’s Brick Lane,escapes all attention even as she steps onto the Versova beach.

Chatterjee,ironically,welcomes the indifference. “I live a normal life and the anonymity I enjoy helps me do that. I’m happy for Freida though,” smiles the petite actress as she steps away to escape the flow of the tide. Her bright green dress with colourful stripes and a matching jacket reflect her freshness and cheerful demeanor.

Here to promote her next release,Raja Menon’s Barah Aana,the actor counters the many parallels being drawn between the film and Arvind Adiga’s Booker prize-winning novel The White Tiger as well as Slumdog Millionaire.

“The backgrounds are similar but all three stories are different. People worldwide are talking about India’s booming economy but when one steps into Mumbai,the other side of the country,the underbelly of the society,comes into visibility. I guess there are many people who want to address the issue in their own ways,” says Chatterjee as she glances towards the rising tide. Her character in Barah Aana,Rani,is a shop owner in a Mumbai slum. She shares an interesting camaraderie with Arjun Mathur,one of the three main characters in the film.

Interestingly,the film brings her together with her NSD professor,Naseeruddin Shah,who plays Shukla,a taxi driver. “I wasn’t surprised that he recognised me but it did astonish me when I realised that he remembers the smallest of things,like how I was very unwell one day and yet made it to the class,” Chatterjee exclaims. The sun’s turned harsh and we make our way to the nearby Barista. The sight of a Barah Aana poster at the café gets her excited,never mind that she doesn’t feature in it.

In Mumbai for four days,Chatterjee will return to Delhi and leave for London soon after. “I have to finish dubbing for a Dev Benegal film and the shooting schedule of Bhopal: Prayer for Rain before I leave for London.” Having starred in a slew of international projects including Oscar-winning German director Florian Gallenberger’s Shadows of Time,she spends a lot of time in London and the US. “I shuttle between my homes in Delhi,Mumbai and London.”

But she confesses that Bollywood hasn’t looked out for her yet. “The industry is so self-contained that the filmmakers hardly look beyond the ones who’re either already established or belong to a Bollywood family,” the actor points out as she tucks away a strand of hair behind her ear. “And honestly,I haven’t made that attempt; I’m too laid-back.”

Also a singer,Chatterjee instead prefers to spend her time in the company of good music. A huge follower of Sufi music and principles,she often casts herself away from work,losing herself to her passion. “The lives that we lead these days hardly allow us to pause and look for peace within ourselves. My work allows me this privilege even as most of my friends lock themselves in their rooms in some cold state of the US,studying hard to complete their PhDs.”

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Federico Fellini
Krzysztof Kieslowski
Mike Leigh
Martin Scorsese
Robert Bresson

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