SO Madam, where are you walking to? Haven’t
seen you in a film these days?” Such jovial questions would
come forth from an Army man as Deepti Naval, still remembered fondly
as the Chamko girl selling detergent powder is Sai Paranjpe’s
Chashmebudoor, walked through the stark winterscape of Ladakh this
January with a camera in hand.
The harvest of the wild, barren,
brown landscape in pictures is to be exhibited in the capital at
Gallery Espace from November 9 to 24. Titled In Search of Another
Sky, the exhibition of photographs is the first one by Deepti who
besides her acting has been known for her paintings and poetry.
“It is not that I have just turned to photography. I always
clicked pictures but more for memory or my paintings. Piramal Gallery
in Bombay is holding a show some time later,” says Deepti.
Deepti’s discovery of Ladakh
was a couple of years ago when she drove there with her companion,
her fiance Vinod Pandit. “I was mesmerized by the landscape,
but that was summer and there were patches of green and a bright
blue sky. This time I chose to go alone and that too in winter.
Living in a house overlooking the Indus was quite a meditative experience,”
says the lens woman. What delighted her most was the stark winter
landscape. “It was another kind of beauty. There is so much
poetry in the starkness. One really feels and experiences the textures
when everything is silver grey with just an occasional brilliant
blue in the sky,” she adds.
Incidentally, Deepti who majored
in painting at a college in New York had also done photography there.
“When one takes up one field more actively, the others are
bound to lie dormant,” says Deepti. Away from the films for
some time now she says that she is doing all she always wanted to
do. “But I love cinema and if a role which inspires me comes
my way, I will certainly act again,” she says. Right now she
is in a phase when she is too old to play a teenybopper and too
young to turn mother.
The only film she has done of late
is a children’s film for friend Virender Saini in which she
laughs and says: I play a washerwoman called Philomena.” Of
her favourite roles in the 50-odd films she featured in as the leading
lady, Deepti says, “I liked my role in late Basu Bhattacharya’s
Panchvati very much. apart from Main Zinda Hoon, Ankahi and Didi.
And I really enjoyed doing Chashmebudoor and Katha.”
Deepti has also been writing
a lot of poetry in English although her first anthology Lamha Lamha
was in Hindi. For the moment she is full of Ladakh and its beauty
and plans to go there again with camera in hand.