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A talk with Vasundhara Das....

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By: Bhavna Chopra, IndiaFM
Saturday, March 17, 2007
On calling this versatile singer and experimental of an actor, on her mobile phone, one is greeted with KANK's popular number, 'Where's The Party Tonight' by Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy, who for the matter of fact are one of her favourite band of musicians among many others mentioned by her. But the topic of my interview is not to know Vasundhra as a singer but as an 'Actor on screen', 'The Monsoon Wedding Girl', whose yet another unconventional film is about to release this Friday called 'Eik dastaak'. Eik Dastakk, a film that is about Income tax department, its officers, their lives and Modus operandi

Playing the role of Akanshaa Verma, a senior level IT officer in Eik Dastakk, Vasundhra Das was required to lend a lot of credibility to her role in terms of leadership qualities, support to her team, idealism, conviction and determination. Looking at which, it is quiet obvious why Miss Das was "the choice" for this particular role. And asking Mr Shekhar Jha, the conceiver and director of the film, the reason got defined even further. "When I drafted the film, my colleagues and myself sat back and pondered over the person who would fit the role aptly and I could think of no one else but Vasundhra Das" says an obvious admirer of the actress, Mr Shekhar Jha. "She had the grace and the body language needed for the particular character' he quips and his judgment of her ability is based on just one film 'Hey Ram'

Hey Ram .. for Vasundhra proved to be a twisting tale of events
Being a Bangalore based girl, Vasundhra feels her affiliation for Music and the music world is self explanatory. 'But acting was totally unexpected a call and quiet ironical too' she goes back the memory lane. 'In fact, acting happened to me earlier to singing in films' giggles Vasundhra as she finds the fate of it quiet funny. Getting trained in music since the age of five, Vasundhra traveled all the way to Madras in hope to make it big in the world of music and auditioned with Magna Sounds, for which she not only got approved but also got noticed by various filmmakers around. Offers for acting poured in but she laughed them off stating, " I have no experience in acting at all". And well to speak of it, its quiet hard to believe Hey Ram was her first ever performance, a role in which she proved to be quiet a natural on screen. Her journey got her introduced to likes of Mr AR Rehman and Kamal Hassan, for whom Vasundhra says "You just can't say no to people like Kamal Hassan, now can you?' and her laughter reverberates her luck and good fortune that she could mark her debut with a filmmaker of his stature. Modest and humble of a person, Vasundhra feels the credit for her performance in Hey Ram, which not surprisingly is one of her best roles till date, goes to the director who let her be herself, a down to earth Iyengar girl.

Hmmm... coming back to Eik dastakkk
Having played a number of different and interesting characters in all her films from Aditi of Monsoon Wedding to Natasha of Kudiyon Ka Hai Zamaana, Akansha of Eik Dastaakk seems to be another feather added to her colorful cap. But what is really interesting to understand is that Vasundhra's choice of films has not been a conscious effort as they usually say. Always open to new roles and ideas, Vasundhra points out there is no 'one particular' genre that she wants to do "as long as she hasn't done any role like it before, she's OK with it ". What attracts her to take up a film is the script and the character essayed, then it doesn't matter if the filmmaker is new or old. 'Shekhar Jha called me up with Eik dastakk, while I was traveling and gave me a brief outline on the film and my role to which I readily agreed and the next thing I knew I was presented with a complete bounded script' says an impressed Vasundhra. But the first time impression of the film director got better when it came to execution of the film, where she throws light on the fact that "Though Shekhar does not belong to the industry, he fit into the skin of a director very comfortably as he was very clear with his subject and what he wanted of her as the character. So in all the experience of working on Eik dastaak and the cast that belonged to theatre and television medium, has been that of immense pleasure, says the delighted actress.

Is she a director's actor and she says "what's that"
In today's' trend of corporate style of film making, workshops and Recci have become the need of the hour, which Vasundhra says was generously lent by Mr Shekhar Jha, an ex-IT officer and his ever helpful colleagues with whom she got chatting while shooting and whenever possible even went on field for first hand information. So did that make her a director's actor for this film, the over smart interviewer in me asks. To which vasundhra innocently cuts back and answers " what's that?", "I am an actor who gives her 100% and who is very versatile, then it is up to the director what he wants from it or not, but I always give my best to whatever I do". Keeping a positive frame of mind 24/7, Vasundhra believes it has got her a long way and kept her at bay with industry malice. Not to forget her high on priority list of qualities is honesty, where she has been brave enough to call a spade a spade and because of which she never got into a situation where she had to lie or defend her actions. Honest Of an actor Vasundhra's commendable quality is more than evident on screen and her character portrayal, we must say.

An honest and a multi- talented actor .... Isn't it a lethal composition for a woman?
And to that Vasundhra's attitude is 'Be yourself !" The question of being a woman and portraying a role dominated by men, she feels times have changed and one should move with the changing times. But on the other hand Shekhar Jha highlights that not many are aware but the IT industry is predominantly headed by women of such stature and have excelled in their roles to a greater extent compared to their fellow men. And has Vasundhra been successful in reflecting this fact and Shekhar feels she has lived it upto the 'T'.

Watch out for many a 'women of substance' roles portrayed by vasundhra Das
Vasundhra Das has never predetermined her plans and foray into films but always jumped on the opportunity to do something different and new. This endearing quality of hers comes to light when she fondly recalls her already earlier released malyalam film opposite famous south actor Mohan lal, Ravana Prabhu, which was a modern depiction of Ramayana. The major difference in the film and the epic was the radical thought involved where her character feels that if she has to go through so many tests to prove her love for Rama than why not she rather choose Ravanas love for her. Reflecting this contemporary and revolutionary thinking process is her forthcoming role of Leela Sharma in Film Star directed by Tanuja Chandra. Her role is that of a polititian's wife who is physically abused and convicted for murder of her husband.. hmm ..way to go girl!

Well on asking Why the audience should watch Eik Dastaakk .. and she questions back 'Why Not ?"
Vasundhra feels that Eik Dastakk's subject along with being insightful and unique, is also one with which any one and everyone can relate to. 'Eik dastaakk is a film about you, me and any person living" It is a film that will be watched by people who pay income tax and who do not pay Income tax" says Vasundhra and the best part is that we always blame the government and see things from one side of the fence. Through this film she has got a chance to show people' a world that is on the other side', which is the biggest USP of Eik dastakk.

However good an actor she still is a singer and a music person
Music is with what Vasundhra unwinds herself. Music is and will always be on her mind Body and soul. With no regrets whatsoever, Vasundhra Das feels life has been the biggest teacher of all, a continuous learning process where one should grow and move on. Friendly and confident, Vasundhra defines herself as Miss Congeniality. But on coaxing her as to what would be one thing that she would like to change about herself and Vasundhra thinks she should get more tactful! Well to that her fans and I will say, 'Her beauty lies in her honesty and her belief in herself. So cheers!! Although her message to her fans is Be what you are.

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