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A ray of hope for her

Model turned actor Lisa Ray feels opportunities are finally opening up for actors in India


Parameters of how we judge actors are increasing. It is not just about being a star LISA RAY

Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy

GREATER SCOPELisa Ray: `We need to provide a platform for all the talent that has come out of drama schools in India'

Promotions in India, shooting for an ad campaign in Milan, and a product endorsement during the French open are model-turned-actor Lisa Ray's break from acting. Not too many offers in Indian movies, which she describes as a "song-and-dance routine," but she does have a few Canadian movies. Two to be precise. Her slew of promotional campaigns brought her down South to promote the Swiss watchmaker Rado.

"I am working on two Canadian films right now— Seeking Fear and Quarterlife Crisis. I play a cop in one of them. I am also working on four more films in New York," she says and dismisses rumours that a few Hollywood big names might be involved. "The actors in those movies wouldn't be known in India, as the industry there is very different. Even scriptwriting methods are different."

Lisa Ray first surfaced in a Bombay Dyeing advertisement opposite the blond Karan Kapoor. She even had her debut in Bollywood with Vikram Bhatt's Kasoor and did manage to garner good reviews. Of course, her claim to fame was Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's music video "Afreen" and Daler Mehndi's "Jalwa".

Primarily a model, she decided to pursue serious acting. Due to lack of opportunities in a "star-struck" film industry that wasn't too willing to try out her kind of looks, she decided to move to London to study at the Academy of Live and Recorded Artists (ALRA) and British Academy of Dramatic Arts (BADA). After finishing her courses she has moved on to Canadian movies, but has still kept in touch with her roots by playing Kalyani in Deepa Mehta's Water, which is going to inaugurate the Toronto Film Festival in September. Lisa says describes Water as a film with a challenging woman-oriented subject and is unfazed by the controversy it has generated.

"It's one film to which I am attached emotionally. I am not willing to politicise it. I would like cinema to be viewed as an artistic expression and nothing more than that. If people want to look at it differently, it's up to them, but I believe that it should be approached as an interesting film and people should watch it."

Lisa feels that Indian cinema is finally moving out of the "superstar era", thanks to the string of creative Bollywood films that have hit the screen lately. "Parameters of how we judge actors in India are increasing. It is not just about being a star. I hope that system gets broken. We need to provide a platform for all the talent that has come out of drama schools in India," she says.

She wants to carve out a niche for herself in offbeat movies and wants to prove that models can be serious actors.

"I am getting a lot of satisfaction out of acting these days. I really like working on offbeat films because mainstream has never been my thing. I keep getting offers for modelling and videos. It is very flattering, but I have had a very long modelling career so I want to pursue acting," she says. But on a parting note she does not rule out a role in a mainstream movie. "I don't want to say a yes or no because there are no absolutes in life. But right now a lot of my energy has shifted to another part of the world. If I got the `perfect' offer where all the elements worked, I would be able to do it."

ANAND SANKAR

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