DEEPTI NAVAL tells Madhurima Nandy that despite going through a lot of emotional turbulence, she has always come out a winner

‘I had to look beyond Hindi films. Had I stuck on to cinema, I would have had to wait for years to get one challenging role’

What is your book Black Wind about?
The book is about my experiences during a very significant phase of my life between 1990-95. They were emotionally turbulent years and also a turning point in my life. During that time, I wanted to write a script on a mentally disturbed woman and had stayed at a mental institution for that. Those images of the inmates over there stayed on with me and later came out in my poetry. But some of the poems in the collection are also on my personal relationships, on suicides and riots.

But do you think that writers, or even actors for that matter, need to live an experience to express them?
I don’t think one needs to go through those but one has to at least witness it. I can’t write about America if I don’t visit the place. For example, I couldn’t write about life in a mental institution without really seeing what life is like out there. That would be an imaginary account of the real thing and it would be grossly unfair. Though an actor can draw from her own reservoir to enact a particular role, a writer needs to delve much deeper. In films, I can afford to role-play but as a writer, it’s me you are reading about.

Acting, painting, photography, writing…….why did you feel the need to diversify into different mediums?
Writing is a much more intense and personal process than acting. Hadn’t it been for all creative outlets, I would have cracked up. Everytime I faced a crisis in life. whether it is writing or painting, they have kept me going whenever I have gone through an emotionally chaotic phase. I couldn’t have stuck to acting because here, you have to wait for years to get a challenging role. But I think, my ultimate creative expression will be when I write songs, which I think is the most romantic form.

Various relationships, tremendous emotional upheaval, a suicide attempt……how did you cope through all those phases of emotional crisis?
I am not a suicidal person by nature. But there is this one poignant moment in one’s life when one is emotionally weak. And like most women, I have always followed my heart in whatever I have done. It also happens when you want a certain quality in life and it doesn’t materialize. That tends to lead to a debate with one’s own self. But I am not somebody who would want to end my it all. I am too much in love with life.

Your’s is a survivor’s success story. Where did you draw your strength from in crisis?
I have gone through the grind and through really turbulent times but have always managed to come out as a stronger person, who is more equipped to handle crisis. I draw my strength to overcome difficult situations in life from my inner self. I am also very close to nature and frequently go trekking. But my greatest source of assurance and support comes from my family which has always been there for me at every point.

How did an intensely private person like you fit into the glamourous world of Bollywood?
Looking Back, I think, I have always been some sort of a misfit in Bollywood. Whether it’s Chashme Baddoor, Kamala, Ek Baar Phir or Tapan Sinha’s Didi, I have always done those films which I had set out to do at the beginning of my career. I did try to be a part of mainstream commercial cinema but I couldn’t .

What do you think of Bollywood films now?
I have no problems with exposure or love scenes in films, but all the songs or dances seem like cabaret numbers to me these days. But the new crop of actors in Bollywood have much more exposure and I have no problems with that.

Do you have any favourites?
Amongst the new crop of actors, Hrithik Roshan and Shahid Kapur are my favourites. I also like Kajol and Rani Mukherjee and yes, I admire Sushmita Sen, for her overall personality. We all like Aamir Khan. I thought Shah Rukh was very good in Swades and in the death scene in Devdas.