Her flawless skin texture and glowing face made her count as one of the prettiest faces to emerge in Bollywood. In her comeback film “Dear Maya”, Manisha Koirala — who was on a hiatus from the arc lights to battle cancer — uninhibitedly plays an aged woman, and says her get up didn’t bother her because she loves to explore different characters as a performer.
Considering that she was praised as an ethereal beauty in 1990s’ films like “1942: A Love Story”, “Bombay” and “Khamoshi: The Musical”, when asked about her image of an old lady in “Dear Maya”, Manisha said: “It didn’t bother me. Looking pretty and getting praise from people maybe has a value in my personal life, but not as an actress.
“Vanity does not bother me while playing a character. How will I grow as an actor if I am not exploring different characters? I want to do roles which are beyond looking pretty.”
The story of the film “Dear Maya” revolves around an old woman who starts living her life all over again in search of love after getting some love letters from a stranger.
After being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012, the actress is excited about coming back to the industry and giving it her best shot again.
Does she find a similarity between Maya and herself?
“In my perspective, hope is the common element in both the situations. Whether you are going through a tough situation in life — physically or mentally — if you do not lose hope, you will win the battle. The film also gives a message of hope in the end.
“For me, in my life, hope is the drive. I believe a positive thought and being optimistic help you to come out of any difficult situation… Look at me,” smiled the actress, who added: “If you look at the individual characters, there is no similarity between Maya Devi and Manisha.”
“Dear Maya”, a low budget film, is helmed by young director Sunaina Bhatnagar. What made Manisha do the film?
“I really liked the script… There was a sense of honesty in her (director Sunaina Bhatnagar) and I knew that she is making a good film. The content of the film is strong, so I happily accepted it,” she said.
Having started her career with the film “Saudagar”, Manisha acted in films like “1942: A Love Story”, “Akele Hum Akele Tum”, “Bombay”, “Dil Se..”, “Company” and worked with names like Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Mani Ratnam and Ram Gopal Verma among others.
She played an array of characters including a traffic accident victim, a suicide bomber and a gangster’s girlfriend among others on screen, but Manisha says she does not judge a character.
“There are characters that I played which are grey, but as an actor, I must do without being judgmental. I am one of those actors who follow the script and the director’s vision. Even if I am playing a negative character and that talks about something depressing, it should be well told.
“Life is not all about good things. It is an amalgamation of negative and positive things. So if in a film, we are showing reality, why not? For instance, for Maya Devi’s character, if as an actor, I can bring an element of reality, it can intrigue many minds,” said Manisha.