In the spotlight
ALL those who thought that the controversy kicked up by Manisha Koirala on Ek Chhoti Si Love Story would permanently cripple her already flagging career, are now doing a rethink. Far from being bogged down, the actress is actually going places.
She is just back from the USA, where she had addressed a congregation at Harvard University as a "cultural ambassador of the subcontinent". She had also given dinner talks at New York and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on her upcoming movie, Escape from Taliban. The film, directed by Ujjal Chatterji, is based on the true tale of a Bengali woman from Kolkata who gets married to an Afghan trader and moves to Kabul, only to face the atrocities of the Taliban regime. But it is the invitation from Harvard that has given her a personal high. "We regard you not just as a movie actress, but as one of the subcontinent’s great cultural ambassadors, bridging the gap between East and West through experimenting in film making and spreading awareness of our traditions."
Manisha is already
regarded as a highly motivated and articulate advocate on the rights of
the girl child and in her capacity as a goodwill ambassador of the
UNICEF, has been working tirelessly since last year on stemming the
trafficking of minor girls from Nepal for prostitution.
For this 32-year-old niece of Left-leaning former Nepal Premier G.P. Koirala, living life on her own terms matters most. She stays alone in a Versova highrise, enjoys her drinks and an occasional smoke and doesn’t mind talking about her past affairs — be it with actor Nana Patekar or Australian envoy Crispin Conroy. There are others who insist that she is very image-conscious. She is very serious about not being seen as a bimbette, even though the only book she can recall having read is Tehmina Durrani’s sex and slurp saga, My Feudal Lord.
The controversy over Ek Chhoti Si Love Story is said to have stemmed from this "image trip". More than her objection to the indecent scenes with a body double, it was actually her anxiety not to be seen as an obese tele-tubby that prompted her to seek a ban on the film. Manisha, however, bristles at this suggestion: "It is my prerogative as a woman and an actress to see how my body is displayed. I believe in progressive cinema. I want to experiment with new roles, but that does not mean I will allow myself to be exploited."
Her pursuit of "progressive cinema" is taking her to watch movies like Giuseppe Tornatore’s Malena and Tom Tykwer’s Run, Lola Run. MF