PERSONALITY Actor Mita Vashisht says she is on a creative high, exploring aspects of her craft
Mita Vashisht, a veteran of theatre and cinema, is in a great, enviable place. She is an award-winning actor who has acted in notable films such as Sidheshwari by Mani Kaul, Govind Nihalani’s Drishti and Drohkaal and Kumar Shahani’s Kasba . No stranger to Malayalam films, she has acted in Satish Menon’s Bhavam and Priyadarshan’s Snehamanavale . An actor not bound to a single medium, she has traversed various media such as television, cinema and theatre. Talking about her return to theatre, she says, “this return to theatre (after considerable time doing television and films) in a deeper sense was a return to the beloved, to the self.”
Despite that identity, she is other things—director, writer, musician and a teacher to name a few. Somewhere in between all these identities there is the social conscience. During the course of her work with Mandala, her theatre group, she worked with young girls who were victims of human trafficking. “It wasn’t social service. I was just giving these young girls a sense of self through theatre. There is a social aspect to theatre. It can encompass and reach out to all kinds of needs.” Mandala is now, more or less, defunct. And she has set up a theatre and film production company, MMV Films.
She is on a creative high, exploring different aspects of her craft and revelling in it. She has finished work on her documentary on the Kashmiri mystic Lal Ded. She has written the script, directed and acted “with my bare back!” in the docu-feature, She of the Four Names , made for the Public Service Broadcasting Trust. She has also done a solo play on the mystic-poetess, called Lal Ded . Both were on different planes experientially, and each equally thrilling as the other.
Mita is all set to perform, as musician, at the ‘One Billion Rising’ concert in Mumbai on February 14. ‘One Billion Rising’ is an event organised to oppose and create awareness about violence against women. “I will recite (rap) and sing a couple of v aakhs (poems) by Lal Ded. Shubha Mudgal and Farhan Akhtar are among the performers,” says a visibly excited Mita, who is also learning Hindustani music. She also teaches at the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), National Institute of Design (NID) and her alma mater, National School of Drama (NSD).
Besides her roles in cinemas, she made her mark in television with serials such as Bharat Ek Khoj , Pachpan Khambe Lal Deewarein and Swabhimaan . Her role in Pachpan Khambe Lal Deewarein , for instance, has ‘amazing recall’. She has been rather selective, lately, when it comes to films. Among her recent films are Michael Winterbottom’s Trishna (2011) as Frieda Pinto’s mother and Gangoobai (2013) directed by Priya Krishnaswami and produced by NFDC. Reinvention seems to come easily to her. That is because, she says, “Push yourself out of your comfort zone, shed your old skin and grow a new one…that is what is exciting about being an artiste.”
SHILPA NAIR ANAND