Dainty, demure and dusky,
that is how one will describe Deepti Naval in a few words.
Deepti spent her childhood in India. During her formative years
she stayed in the jet set environs of America. No wonder she is
happy blend of two cultures, so vast and varied.
Her parents are teachers. “The entire atmosphere in the
family was one of books.” This made Deepti’s world
so distant, and so different, from the world of Hindi films.
“And yet when I was very young, I used to dream of being
an actress”, she said. But I never really worked towards
it. I didn’t even think of joining a school or an institute
to study acting. This is because I never really thought my parents
would allow me to become an actress.”
Meanwhile, with her family she went to America.
Luck intervened. She got a contract for a weekly radio programme
to interview film personalities coming from India. “I think
because of meeting these people my desire to be an actress revived.”
Soon Shyam Benegal’s Junoon came her way. It was a cameo
appearance. “It didn’t do anything for me. Kuchh nahin
hua, hua to Ek Baar Phir’ se.”
Yes, it was a bold role for a new girl - a role where she portrayed
the travails of a woman trapped in marriage but in love with another
man. Perhaps it was the first time in the history of our cinema
when the heroine left her husband for another man.
“I got some very nice reviews”, Deepti said with a
smile. “I was acclaimed as an actress from the beginning.
This meant a big responsibility for a newcomer.”
Since then Deepti has acted in a farrago of films. From the hard-core
commercial slot (Rang Birangi, Shriman Shrimati, Hum Panch) to
the more sensitive films (Saath Saath, Hip Hip Hurray, Damul,
Kamla). With equal ease she has essayed roles in both comedies
as well as serious films. But, inspite of her talent Deepti hasn’t
hit the jackpot yet.
“I have no background”, she explained. “There
is nobody in Bombay to guide me, to tell me which roles to pick
and which to reject and what to work towards. I think one makes
one’s mistakes and learns from them.”
However, it seems 1985 belongs to Deepti Naval. She has an interesting
list of releases. Some of these are Saeed Mirza’s Mohan
Joshi Hazir Ho, Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s Andhi Gali, Sagar Sarhedi’s
Tere Sheker Mein, Amol Palekar’s Ankahee.
The last according to Deepti, is “a commercial film, but
a small one. The set-up includes myself, Amol, Devika Mukherjee,
a girl from Calcutta, besides Anil Chatterjee, that brilliant
actor again from Calcutta, Dina Pathak and Dr. Lagoo.”
“It is an interesting film”, she says. “You
know I have grown so much after this film.” She paused then
continued. “Only very recently I got into the kind of roles
I feel I am now capable of handling. I feel I am just ready to
tackle anything complicated.”
Besides being an actress, Deepti has another interesting side
to her personality. She has to her credit an anthology of poems
in Hindi, Lahma- Lahma (Moments) published by Parag Prakashan.
But she doesn’t intend writing songs for Hindi films. This
is inspite of the fact that one of her verses has been turned
into a song and recorded in Pakistan for a film - Doosra Kinara.
On the personal side, things are just perfect. Just when the gossip
mill was working overtime, describing Deepti’s escapades
with various men, she surprised her friends and fans by announcing
her marriage with Prakash Jha, a talented film-maker.
During the making of Jha’s first feature film, Hip Hip Hurray,
the romance between the director and the heroine took root. Soon
they discovered they were made for each other.
And a quiet marriage took