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Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Lisa Ray: My celebrity image and reality were never in sync with each other

Model-actor Lisa Ray on the experience of narrating her life story, the joy of writing and her celebrity image.

Written by Priyanka Sharma | Mumbai | Updated: May 6, 2020 10:18:00 pm
lisa ray photos Lisa Ray was last seen in Four More Shots Please season 2. (Photo: Lisa Ray/Instagram)

Lisa Ray recently released her audiobook Close to the Bone on Audible. In this exclusive conversation with, Ray talks about the experience of narrating her life story, the joy of writing and her celebrity image.

Here are excerpts from the interaction:

Q. You have said it was challenging to write your autobiography because you had to revisit several difficult moments in your life. So, was it harder to narrate your life story? Did it feel like you were living it all over again?

It was a very intimate and intense experience to narrate the book. Writing a book is very different from reading it. I have to admit it was a great privilege to be able to give life to the narrative in a different way.

I had to take a few breaks in between because it got emotionally heavy. And there was another part of me – the writer who was constantly nitpicking that why I used that word or that phrase. So these two things were going on, which were equally intense.

Q. With all the reviews and feedback for Close to the Bone, what has changed in you?

The wonderful and incredible messages I get from readers is an affirmation that this is the path I should take. I always believed writing was the path for me but I didn’t have the guts before.

One of the benefits of releasing the book has been that I have found support in the writers’ community. There are many writers, whom I knew from afar, but now we are colleagues.

Q. In your book and many of your interviews, you have spoken about grappling with different identities. Today, would you say that professionally, you are most comfortable with the identity of a writer?

Yes. But that’s not surprising because my other professional identities were all accidental. That’s also the reason why I felt I had to take back my narrative, my story. If I hadn’t shared my story, you are going to assume that acting and being in front of the camera is something I aspired to do. Once you have the book, you will know that it (acting) was a kind of a serendipitous thing and I was always aspiring towards writing.

Of course, I am grateful for the detour that my life took because it has certainly given me a lot of material to write in my book.

four more shots please season 2 lisa ray bani j Lisa Ray and Bani J in a still from Four More Shots Please season 2. (Photo: Pritish Nandy Communications/Instagram)

Q. Some actors say it’s difficult to withdraw from the limelight and attention. So, was it easy for you to retract from that aspect of your life?

The struggle has been in finding my voice. I have had many private struggles. There was a celebrity image and then there was the real me. And the two were never in sync with each other.

And even as I pursue full time writing, I do occasional film projects. I have AR Rahman’s 99 coming up, then I did Four More Shots Please season two, where I had a lovely, juicy kind of character. I am very fortunate that I get such great projects. But at this stage – I am 47 – and I have seen so much that there’s no ‘What my would have been’ in my head. And that’s because in my life, I have dipped my toe into everything that I liked. I don’t feel unfulfilled from that point of view.

That’s why it’s easier for me to take a decision to take a step back from it, even though I am deeply appreciative of my profile in India. But I also had a career in Canada, which a lot of people in India don’t know about. And at the crux of it, there are two things. First, I am an introvert and it doesn’t look like it but I do get exhausted if I am constantly the centre of attention. Honestly, where I am right now suits me the best in terms of my nature. It’s relatively easy to give up something I never aspired to be.

Q. So, it must have been quite hard for you to deal with much attention when you worked as a model and actor in India.

It drove me crazy and I would get drained. I didn’t know how to moderate attention and my life. I would work until I broke down emotionally and physically. Nobody taught me about self love, about prioritising self care and that’s something I have learnt only now. I am kind of a late bloomer in every way. Once you learn these principles and how essential they are to living, you can’t go back to the old way.

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