She is making her comeback in Bollywood with Sunaina Bhatnagar’s Dear Maya. The beautiful Manisha Koirala opened up to Koimoi in an exclusive interview on living a healthy life after battling cancer, her plans to adopt a girl child, playing Nargis Dutt in the Sanjay Dutt biopic and more…
This is the second innings of your life after battling cancer and now you are back with Dear Maya. Would you also like to call this your second innings in Bollywood?
Kind of I guess. It’s a new phase, different phase, so you can call this my second innings.
Tell us a little about your role in the film?
The character’s name is Maya Devi. She is a person who is scared of the world, she thinks she is unworthy of love; she has so many complexes and fears that she has locked herself in her haveli for 23 years. Her life is very grim and dark. The only outlet that she has is making Himachal dolls.
Does she have some kind of a mental disorder?
Not really! It’s just that she feels the outer world is not a safe place. So she neither goes out nor allows anybody to come in. She has big dogs to guard her against any danger coming from the outside world. It’s almost like a mental disorder you can say but she is not actually mad. She has a lot of fear.
What intrigued you about the role?
I felt it is a beautifully written script and has the potential to be made into a good film.
What is the film about?
The story starts unfolding when two brats, school-going young girls get intrigued by this haveli and Maya Devi. They start thinking that maybe it is the lack of love which is making her feel like this. So they play a practical joke. They start writing love letters to Maya Devi who slowly starts believing in them. She thinks maybe there was a guy who loved me but never had the courage to come and tell me. That spark of belief in a fake love letter changes Maya Devi’s life and there comes a time when she decides to pack her bags and go find him. What all happens to her after that is the story of the film.
You are making a comeback to Bollywood with this film…are you nervous or excited?
I think partially both. I am excited as well as nervous about it. It is a mixed feeling.
How did it feel to stand in front of the camera after so many months?
It felt wonderful! It felt great! I was nervous as hell and I just wanted to do it right. I wasn’t sure but it was a great feeling!
You are also playing Nargis Dutt’s character in the Sanjay Dutt biopic. How excited are you about that role?
It is exciting. I have a special appearance in the film; it’s not a full-fledged character. I just want to do it right because it is a responsibility to portray Nargis Dutt.
You have done so many films with Sanjay Dutt. Was it challenging to play his mother on screen?
Yes absolutely! It is challenging and also the fact that I have never met her.
You have been a part of the film industry for so many years now. How has Bollywood changed?
It has changed and evolved a lot. I see a lot of young talents nowadays. They are doing such good films, such good performances. Alia Bhatt did a fantastic work in Udta Punjab. It’s great to see the younger generation doing good films and great acting!
What kind of roles do you intend to take up now?
Anything that will raise my bar, that will help me grow as an artist.
You are planning to turn mother by adopting a girl child…why this decision?
It’s a little late I know but I felt I needed to bond, so fingers crossed! Let’s see. It’s going to be a huge responsibility I know but I hope I will fulfill that.
When is it happening?
Towards the end of this year or else next year.
Anything else you are working on at the moment?
Yes, I am doing three other movies but I will talk about them later.
You are a cancer survivor. You are an achiever. Any message for those battling the disease?
There is hope. It is possible that we can survive this, we can go through this process and lead a good, healthy life. God has been kind to me. I don’t know what I did right. Honestly speaking I don’t have answers but I am constantly in search of living a healthy life. I have realised the importance of good health. A few tips which I would like to give is, stay positive in your brain because mind and body are hugely connected; try to keep your body alkaline, avoid oily and fried food, which cause acidity, try to get adequate rest, drink a lot of water, workout to keep yourself agile and whatever time we have on earth, try to live it happily. Life is going to throw us challenges, there will be downfall, troubles but we can either start feeling victimised or fight it. We can always look for strength inside us and be positive. Be happy! I am cancer free today but don’t know what challenge life will throw at me tomorrow. I am ready to face that.
Yes! They say there is a good side and a bad side; there is a good wolf and a bad wolf in us, whoever we feed more becomes the winner. It’s completely up to you as to who you will make the winner.