OCT 31, 1999




IT’S a sudden un-seasonal storm, accompanied by crashing rain. And Deepti Naval is absorbed in it. She sits gazing out by the open windows, oblivious to the streaming jets of water splashing on to her polished wooden floor. Enjoying the experience as if there is no tomorrow.

“That is how I live today,” she smiles serenely. “As if there’s no tomorrow. I know that the wet wooden planks will catch up with me later. So I’ll fix them too. But right now I don’t care. Now I just want to be.”

So here’s an actress who seems to have found an answer to English literature’s eternal question. She has decided ‘to be’ – once and for all. Of course, there was a time when ‘doing’ was more important to her. More projects, better roles… Until one day, when she left it all and went back home to New York. “I needed to touch base,” she explains. “To go back to be with my family and the environment in which I grew up. I cannot live in Bombay for very long stretches.”

And yet fate has a way of catching up. For it was while in New York that producer Ajay Bawa tracked her down with a plum role in his forthcoming serial, Tadap. A serial that tells the story of non-resident Indians in the US. To be shot completely in New York.

It was a role that Deepti identified with instantly. “I have to almost play myself,” she says. “A single, independent woman who needs a lot of space for herself and who lives life on her own terms. People get judgmental about her friends, her lifestyle and a lot of other things, but that doesn’t bother her… This is a thinking that I’ve always lived with. Now I just have to act it out.”
The only aspect of the role that she is not used to are the crisp kanjeevaram saris that she is expected to wear, by way of asserting her individuality in New York! “They also wanted long black hair and were disappointed that I’ve cut off mine!” she laughs, adding, “Though I prefer my new cut. It’s much less time consuming.”

Deepti has had her tryst with TV too. When she wrote and directed the serial Thodasa Aasman, based on the lives of three women. So what happened to it? “It got short-circuited,” she grins.

Right now, she is only enjoying herself acting in Tadap, show with its young enthusiastic crew on her own turf in Manhattan and just being with her family. As if there is no tomorrow.