Dividing her time between acting, activism and writing books for children, Nandana Sen says her writing helps her acting and vice versa.
“Acting and writing are both ways of telling a story, of creating emotions and characters. The way I tell a story has been deeply influenced by my experience as an actor.
“Similarly, as an actor I am hugely affected by the fact that as writers, we are always using our imagination to make up characters,” Sen told PTI on the interdependence of the worlds of acting and writing.
Her last film was the 2014 Ketan Mehta directed “Rang Rasiya”, a biopic on painter Raja Ravi Verma. Since then she has written two children’s books “Kangaroo Kisses” and “Mambi and the Forest Fire”.
“The way I storyboarded ‘Mambi’ – which, I’ve been told is very “cinematic” in its conception – had a great deal to do with my experience in film. And in acting, I prepare for my role just like a writer extensively sketches out a character,” Sen, daughter of economist Amartya Sen, said.
She said as an actor, she explores, imagines, and then writes down every small thing in the back-story of the part.
“You would never see these details in the film but they affect the character’s choices and behaviour. So I have to make my character’s back-story very real while acting – and also, of course, while I’m writing,” Sen said.
While living in Mumbai, the actress-turned-author was dividing her time between acting, child rights and writing.
“Now that I have moved away from Mumbai, I still divide time between these three worlds…. Now the emphasis is to spend more time on writing,” Sen said adding that she hasn’t left Bollywood yet.
“I have always done films that have some strong social or political conscience and to the causes that I am passionate about. I will continue to do that,” Sen, who has been actively working on children issues with UNICEF, Operation Smile and National Council for Protection of Child Rights, said.
The stories she has written in the books, she said, had been building up in her while working with children.
“I have been wanting to have the time to write. Had I not decided to move away from full-time acting it wouldn’t have been possible. It was a natural decision for me,” she said.
Sen had started writing fiction at the age of ten and her first piece of published writing was a poem selected by Satyajit Ray in ‘Sandesh’ magazine.
An activist at heart, Sen says what draws her to children’s books is the same thing that attracts her to cinema – both have tremendous capacity to transform the world.
“But this book sensitises children about courage, about helping others in need, and about loving yourself while respecting diversity,” she said.