19 November, 2012

Interview with Tisca Chopra

Just like we are taught to never judge a book by its cover, we too should never speculate about the personality of a film star simply by his/her onscreen or public persona. While Tisca Chopra has always remained clear of any controversies, she is somewhat of a dark horse of the film industry. Gaining acclaim after her comeback in Taare Zameen Par, I found her, through my interactions on twitter and email, to be a very down to earth person, courteous, and someone who has varied interests ranging from traveling to writing, along with an obvious passion for cinema. Her colorful nature, she did answer the questions in purple, along with a knack for good humor, just read some of her answers, she has won many hearts with her smile and brilliant performances in films and in commercials.

I would like to thank Ms. Chopra for taking out the time from her busy schedule to answer the questions put forth about her life and about her time in the Indian film industry.

Raghav Modi (RM): You've been working in the film industry for a while now, but your comeback came about with Taare Zameen Par with a rather unconventional role of a mother to a young boy. How did that happen?

Tisca Chopra (TC): One of the assistants on the film, Ritu Bhatia had seen my work on TV. I was called in to audition. I did my best at the audition and I was on the same evening. 

RM: Being a part of the Indian film industry for so many years how do you feel it has changed over the years?

TC: The age of the actor is here. If you can act, you’ll be working and working a lot. The only thing that can stop you is if you develop an attitude.

Multiplexes have breathed life into new types of stories. The next step is movies that have multi ethnic, multi country casts and crews- world stories... some of that we have seen in Crash and Babel, but more is yet to come.

RM: What according to you is the next logical step that the film industry should be heading towards? Has the audience really started to look forward to "intelligent" cinema or is there scope for everything still?

TC: Films like Ready, Golmaal and Son Of Sardaar prove that the audiences love comedies and action films. Yet, slowly there is a distinct audience emerging for smaller and sassier films too. With a bursting-at-the-seams population like ours, how can only one type of film work? Everything works, so long as it's got a semblance of a soul.

RM: There has always been a gap of few years between your films. Your filmography is somewhat empty between 1995 till 2000 and then again from 2004 till 2007. This also included a name change. Why have these breaks been important and where have you been busy during these years?

TC: There are three kinds of roles for women in Bollywood- Babe, Bhabhi and Beeji. I keep ducking the stereotype. Anything that offers me chance to play a real person, I will do it. Fat, funny, thin, bald, ugly...anything, so long as its real and has a good story to tell.

I’ve never been homogeneous. I do not feel pressure to do work all the time. I travel, I read and when something fun comes up, I do it. It's important for me to believe in the story and in the people making it. One can’t keep reaping if one is not sowing. I want to put in a little living to be able to bring something fresh to my work. I don’t want to develop emotional myopia…I can’t see other actors films and act out of that. I need to meet people, observe life, and do different things.

Meantime, I have finished a book I am writing. It's called ‘Get Your Act Together’. We have also been traveling with ‘Dinner with Friends‘ a fabulous play that I’ve had the good fortune to be in. 

RM: Ever since your return to films you have been doing a number serious films/roles like TZP, Firaaq or even Mirch to an extent. Has this been a conscious decision or it is always about the role rather than the genre of the film?

TC: Not at all. I am absolutely dying to do a comedy. Friends and family will tell you that I’m quite a clown. TZP set a benchmark that most people just follow. Coming up shortly is a comedy I did, ‘10ml Love’. I enjoyed that so much that now I’m seriously looking for another comic script… something totally crazy. Something like As Good As It Gets… smart and funny.

RM: Although it is a clich├ęd question, but you must have a wish list when it comes to directors and actors. So, which director and actor would you want to work with, someone you haven't worked with yet?

TV: Anyone with a delicious script. Actually, I am now keen to write a script myself... maybe that’s the next step for me. But, if you are asking whose work I like, then Raju Hirani, Vishal Bhardwaj, Shimit Amin, Dibaker Banerjee, Neeraj Pandey (Wednesday), Subhash Kapoor (Phas Gaye Re Obama), Abhishek Sharma(Tere Bin Laden) are some names.

Internationally, I’m a huge fan of Woody Allen’s films. There are so many excellent directors like John Lasseter, The Coen brothers, Peter Jackson, Clint Eastwood, Ang Lee, Martin Scoecsese and Christopher Nolan. I’d love to work with actors like Leonardo Di Capprio, Jhonny Depp, Helen Mirren, Ryan Gosling and Meryl Streep.

RM: As an actress, do you have any regrets, roles that you missed out on for one reason or another?

TC: I did not miss out on anything because I live for the moment and make the film I’m doing at the moment the best fun thing in the world. So whether the film does well or not, I’ve given my heart and soul to it and had a blast making it. It's a win win. So, to answer your question I have no regrets.
..unless you talk about ‘Fargo’,‘Chicago’, ‘Bullets over Broadway‘ or ‘As Good As It Gets’, then yes I did miss out on those.. 

RM: Can you tell us about some of your up-and-coming projects?

TC: Coming out on the 7th of December is ‘10ml Love’, a mad comedy based on Shakespeare’s‘A Midsummer Nights Dream’. I’m filming ‘Ankur Arora Murder Case’ that is being produced by Vikram Bhatt, at the moment. ‘Qissa’, an international film with Irrfan is just getting done. There’s a bi-lingual thriller that is starting in February. And like I said, I have an idea for a film, which is a comedy. I want to write that asap.

RM: What are some of the perks of being in the limelight and also some drawbacks that you wish you could change?

TC: I wish I didn’t have to wear high heels. Something about wearing high heels makes your brain stop functioning. The flip side is that, that makes one appealing to certain types of men.

I’m also intrinsically shy, so sometimes that becomes an effort- to fight my basic personality and be open. Being a celebrity, one has to reveal selectively, but being an actor has opened my soul.

RM: One of the perks that we are aware of is that actors get to travel all around the world on the pretext of filming. Is there anyplace that you've discovered because of a shoot that you would like to return to?

TC: I’m pretty hooked to travel, work or no work. My husband’s a pilot, so we end up traveling a lot. I fell in love with Istanbul. That’s one place I’d love to go back to. Manali is a favorite in India. I want to definitely go to Ladakh this coming year, the Dead Sea, the Rio Mardi Gras and the Machu Picchu area.

RM: Before we let you go you have to tell us your five favourite Indian Films and five favourite Non-Indian films?

TC:  International- As Good As It Gets, Fargo, Shawshank Redemption, Bullets Over Broadway, The Green Mile.  
Indian- Lagaan, Ab Tak Chappan, Raat aur Din, Taare Zameen Par, 3 Idiots.