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Nandita Das - femme' extraordinaire!

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By: Sreelatha B

It's not just her earthy looks, the fire in her eyes, the besotting smile that endears Nandita Das to the masses. It's Nandita Das; the woman who has redefined roles and opened a new stream of thought on issues that concern people. For Nandita doesn't have any airs as an actress, neither is she aloof and snobbish.

Born on 7th Nov to painter Jatin Das and writer mother Varsha, Nandita learnt to cope with problems at a very early age. Although her parents separated when she was 7, Nandita has grown up to be a balanced and sensitive individual. Her exposure to art, theatre has given her grace, poise and a sensuality that comes out very strongly.

The passion shows; be it the role of a lesbian in Fire, an ayah in Earth, a Naxalite in Hazar Chaurasi Ki Maa, a radical in Manirathnam's Kannathil Muthamittal or a rape victim in Bawandar, Nandita succeeds in bringing out the nuances of every character she's enacted so far.

Her choice of roles, her interest in issues relating to the common man, her involvement and her depth makes her a very singular and unique individual. At a time when producers and directors are vying for her, Nandita doesn't accept an offer until she is convinced. According to her, "I want to do films which I can relate to, films that have something to say, which I as a human being believe in."

Injustice, abuse against women and other social issues are her concern. Even if her roles are offbeat and unusual, her involvement is complete and her efforts show. Nandita doesn't believe in being classified as an 'art actress', "I do not like tags, even those that say 'I do only art films,' because art films can be very boring and pretentious."

Her definition of a film is very clear. "For me there are only good films and bad films. I believe if you have faith in something you should share it. If we do not share ideas, then how do we connect and grow? The films I have done so far, have all generated some amount of debate and discussion. I am instinctively drawn to films with strong women characters because through them I am able to express what I believe in and hopefully draw the audience into some introspection."

She doesn't try to use the media to promote herself or indulge in mud slinging against other actresses. Seen a successor to Smita Patil, Nandita brings issues alive, seeks answers and crusades against injustice; she is a true activist in reel and real life.

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