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My best is yet to come: Manisha

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New life beckons: Manisha Koirala loves to do South Indian films
New life beckons: Manisha Koirala loves to do South Indian films

Manisha Koirala on her first Malayalam movie and her June wedding

The soon-to-be married Manisha Koirala is glowing, making us wonder just how beautiful a bride she will make. In Kerala to act in Shyamaprasad's Elektra, where she plays wife to Prakash Raj and mother to Nayantara, Manisha has charmed her fans with her acting skills and beauty. Ask her about her businessman-fiancée, Samrat Dahal, and she gushes about love “happening over a few months,” and in the same breath claiming it was “instantaneous.”

Marriage on the cards

But given her smitten state one can understand the incongruity. Manisha is happy talking about wedding preparations and discussing marriage customs and rituals. But then she does divulge a little known fact about herself and Samrat: that Samrat has joined a spiritual course at Oneness University near Chennai to understand and relate with her spiritual predilections. She says: “At a point in life when you have success, wealth and contentment, then you begin to question many other things.” In complete synergy, Samrat is doing the course, “and he is really enjoying it.” It's a perfect spiritual bonding for the winsome twosome.

Manisha's day begins with meditation, followed by yoga and gym. Friends, family (her little niece), travel, a lot of reading make up the rest of her typical day, when she is not shooting. She loves cooking, especially French food. Being very house proud, she loves to decorate her home and is keen about her terrace garden.

But away from home, this Nepalese beauty is known for her brilliant histrionics and her award-winning performances ( 1942: a Love Story, Bombay, Dil Se, Khamoshi, Agni Sakshi…)

Ask her about her strong character portrayals and she says: “I like characters that have some substance,” and though she claims to have done her bit of running around trees, the roles that she essays are very important to her. Having acted in almost all genres it is pure comedy that she has not done yet, something that she would like to do under a good director.

Manisha has done many Tamil films and acted with superstars Rajnikant and Kamal Hassan. “Both are so talented and have taught me a lot. Rajni Sir is so humble despite being a huge star and Kamal Sir always suggested good books to read after he learnt that I love reading.” Familiar with the South Indian film industry, Manisha is at ease with her first Malayalam film and “super happy to work with Shyamaprasad.”

Comparing the two film worlds that she has worked in, she says that Bollywood has now turned professional like the industry in the south. Punctuality has come on the sets. And that the whole energy of filmmaking is same even in the Nepali film industry.

Having recently acted in a Nepalese film she opines that most Nepali directors make copies of bad Bollywood films, something that drew flak when she pointed it out. All for offbeat films and good stories, Manisha says that being a jury member on many of the International film festivals has given her exposure to world cinema. And though Indian cinema is on par there is a lot one can do to encourage good films. So what keeps us back? “Unfortunately the whole business of cinema takes the upper hand over the creative aspect.”

And the remedy? “We need to come out and support the creative directors even if there is no money in it. We see this in Hollywood. They support quality parallel cinema.”

Coming from Nepal's first political family she has kept away from politics. Camera, cinema and acting are her first loves she says, disclosing that she wanted to become a doctor at one point of time! Nepal beckons her now and after her wedding she plans to spend more time there.

Social work

Having actively worked with Unicef and UNFPA as their Goodwill Ambassador, Manisha plans to get back to social work, especially in the field with children. She attended the Gay Parade and also the first Queer Film Festival, championing their rights. “Lots of my friends are gays,” and she along with the whole team of I AM of Onir, came out in support.

Recently Manisha produced a film, Paisa Vasool but ask her about the experience and she says that she will think a 100 times before she produces a film! “An actor's job is far easier. You are stress free after your work is done but a producer's job never ends.”

So will acting take a backseat from now on? “Partially I would want to start focussing on my family and at the same time continue working on one or two projects. I would be like any other working woman who has a family and a job!

With great hits to her credit is she contented? “I will act till my dying day. There is so much to do. Meryl Streep amazes me. Nothing stops her. I would like to grow gracefully with age, do those roles and make an impact as an actor. My best is yet to come.”

PRIYADERSHINI S.

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