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I am grounded, don't have airs, says Dipti Naval


Published on: May 1, 2023 | Updated on: May 1, 2023

Deepti Naval. (Photo By Arrangement)

Deepti Naval, who has played women of substance in Hindi cinema and won critical acclaim for her sensitive and emotional performances, will play a  pivotal role in Mother Teresa & Me, a story of love, hope and compassion inspired by the life of Mother Teresa. The English movie directed by Kamal Musale, scheduled to be released this week, also features Banita Sandhu and Atul Sharma in lead roles.

Deepti talks about the film and her acting career

What is your role in Mother Teresa & Me?

I don’t have a lengthy role, but I accepted it because I loved the script. I also felt that Mother Teresa is being portrayed very realistically. They have depicted a real woman who is loving and compassionate; but it also deals with her weaknesses. A very different angle of Mother Teresa is depicted, which made me want to be associated with the film. I play a tender, compassionate character.

Does the film follow the story of Mother Teresa from the time she came to India?

It’s not her biopic. The title is Mother Teresa and Me.

What about your co-actors in the film?

Banita Sandhu is a promising and enthusiastic young actor. She has so much energy. We did a couple of scenes together. It was very nice working with her. I would love to do more scenes with Jacqueline who plays Mother Teresa. We shared screen space only during a Church scene. When I saw her sitting there dressed as Mother Teresa, I felt the casting was so apt.

What are the films and roles you cherish from your first innings?

Ankahee and Mein Zinda Hoon are my favourite films. In my first innings, I bagged halke-phulke (light) roles only. The performer and actor within me were craving for more in-depth roles, something more dramatic. I wanted to do meaningful roles and decided to stop accepting light hearted ones. That’s when I did films like Kamla, Bawander, Shakti The Power and others. Times have changed now.

How has your craft evolved?

Maine toh karte karte hi acting seekhi hai. I am not a trained actor. I learned on the job and by observing other people’s work. I had a good sounding board in Hari Bhai (Sanjiv Kumar) when I did challenging roles like the ones in Kamla or Ankahee. When he saw Ankahee, he said, "'you have grown leaps and bounds as an actress. Thus it remains one of my favourites. Another personal favourite is Yeh Ishq Nahi Asan with Rishi Kapoor. Panchavati too is very close to my heart.

What are the strengths you acquired as you grew as an actress?

I learned to remain grounded, which is a strength. I don’t live life in a fairy-tale world or think myself a Diva. Though I’m a lone traveller, I have associated myself with the outside world. I sit with Dhabba-wallahs, I talk to the local people. I have no airs and graces as an actor.  I live my life to the fullest. I love travelling and interacting with various people.

Tell us about a travel destination that you’ve learned a lot from.

It’s not about any one place. I have picked up something from everywhere. I am an observant person. I look at a man sitting nearby, note his pot belly, imagine what his life must be like — uski life mein kya jaddho jahed [struggle] hogi. I can get a feel of it through his body language. My imagination and powers of observation are my strengths.

Do you have anything happening on the directorial front?

No nothing on that front. I have finished writing my fourth book. It is a 400-page memoire of my younger days, titled A Country Called Childhood. I will start on the fifth one soon.

Any message for the public?

I want people to come and see Mother Teresa and Me. There is a lot of internal unrest, a lot of negativity now. People should watch this film to understand how important compassion is.