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 place.