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Now playing JUROR

Nandita Das speaks on her role as a jury member of the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, her views on commercial Indian cinema and her projects

Cannes will provide a stupendous learning experience for me. But I hope to enjoy myself too!

VERSATILITY PERSONIFIED: Actress Nandita Das all set for Cannes experience

Social crusader, theatre artiste, director, writer and orator, acclaimed actor Nandita Das' many facets underscore her versatility. One of the few Indians ever to be a juror at the prestigious 10-day-long 58th Cannes Film Festival, to be held in France from today,Das speaks about her expectations from the festival, her views on commercial Indian cinema and her projects.

Q. Do you feel proud to be chosen as a juror for the Cannes Film Festival?

A. It's a thrilling moment for me! I feel honoured but at the same time I'd be honest and say I'm surprised too. The feeling has taken a while to sink in. The other day, Christian Jeune, the Director of the film festival, called me to give me the good news! Following that, Gilles Jacob, President of the film festival, sent me a formal letter confirming the same.

Q. As a judge, what qualities would you be looking at in a good film?

A. Although film appreciation is subjective, the festival will probably give us guidelines based on which the films will be judged. But certain criteria will always hold true - originality of thought and subject, brilliance of form, technical proficiency, special significance to today's world/history of cinema/human predicament and a cinematic experience that would stir one's heart and mind.

Q. What, in your view, eludes Indian films from winning big ticket honours like Oscars, despite having made rapid strides in cinema in both content and form?

A. While Indian films, Bollywood ones in particular, are becoming increasingly popular among the Indian Diaspora and beyond, it is probably time we explored the full range of cinema, in its form and content. I think we should ask ourselves whether our films are good enough for this level of international platform.

There are some films that show great sensitivity and artistic expression and are overlooked, or are unable to go through the process that is required for submission and acceptance. But we know it is not lack of money, talent or stories that stop us from producing masterpieces nowadays.

Q. What all are you looking forward to at the Festival considering its association with glitz and glamour?

A. Of course, Cannes is going to be full of glitz but my focus will be to take my responsibility as a juror seriously. And not get bogged down by other trappings and baggage that come naturally with all the media attention. I look forward to interacting with other accomplished actors and filmmakers and hope to be exposed to different perspectives through which a film is judged. In essence, I think Cannes will provide a stupendous learning experience for me. But I hope to enjoy myself too!

Q. Who are your favourite Indian and foreign directors?

A. I don't really believe in favourites as it unfairly excludes many people from one's ambit. And there's always more than one filmmaker who is worthy of one's admiration. As there are so many genres, time periods, countries and subjects that have been explored, it would not be fair to narrow it down to just a couple of names.

Q. You've acted in 25 films in eight languages, also bagging national awards for Bawandar (Jagmohan Mundhra) and Aamar Bhuwan (Mrinal Sen). What parameters do you keep in mind while accepting a role? Is money also a criterion?

A. My decisions of doing selective films, and not just in Hindi, but in `regional' languages, not living in the film city (Delhi, not Mumbai), not living a life of an actress, etc., were often seen as wrong choices, even by many of my well-wishers. I have instinctively anchored towards projects that I could relate to.

My choices have always been influenced by my artistic inclinations and social commitment, although some of them have not turned out the way I had imagined or wanted them to be.

But I was happy that I had at least I made those choices for honest reasons. What I look for is a good script, a director who can translate that into an interesting cinematic experience and a role that's challenging and relatable.

Often, all these things don't come together as there are many factors involved in filmmaking. All said and done, it is a gamble.

But, the only thing I can confidently say is that the criteria for choosing a film has not been based on any reason other than the one I mentioned. We all need money, but it is a relative need and there is really no end to wanting.

Q. How do you de-stress?

A. There's no real winding up or unwinding for me! However, the little time that I get to myself, I enjoy listening to music, spending time with my family and friends and reading. Reading scripts has taken up more time than having the luxury of reading books.


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