COMING from Deepti Naval, In Search Of Another Sky seems to be a modest title for her solo exhibition of photographers, for a versatile person like her has surely delved into several skies already. The exhibition of photographs depicting the beauty of Ladakh – clicked during the month of February this year – displayed yet another of her talents.

An acclaimed actress of meaningful cinema, a poetess and a painter who has also directed ‘serious’ serials on women’s issues, Deepti is a trained photographer. However, at her first show this week at Delhi’s Gallery Espace, she seemed slightly apprehensive, quite like a newcomer.

“It is natural to be a little nervous,” said Deepti with a wide and bright chamko- smile, adding, “but I am confident that the connoisseurs of Delhi would appreciate these photographs of Ladakh.”
“The sheer beauty of barrenness in Ladakh attracted me and I am sure that I will be able to share my feeling of awe for Ladakhi with those who come to see these photographs,” she says.
The 40 frames on display are priced between Rs 800 and Rs 1,500. Among her own favourites is the photograph of two Ladakhi sisters – simple and yet beautiful.

“I stayed with these women for a week. It would be an understatement to say that the stay was a novel experience. It was a novel experience. It was a learning experience for me,” she says.
So inspired is she by the natural beauty of Ladakh that she is planning to visit the place again and bring back more photographs depicting both the stark and the soft side of Ladakh.
The photographs displayed can perhaps be best described as ‘soundscapes’. For most of these being abstract landscapes echoed silence – the quietness of Buddhist monasteries, the calmness of the Himalayas.

“Ladakh is unique. Though it is so near to the lush green Kashmir valley, it is so different from it. In fact, one feels that one has arrived in another world,” says Deepti recollecting her trip to Ladakh.
Being a poetess and a painter, it is only natural that one aspect flows into another.

“I look for poetry in images that I capture in my camera. I want my photographs to tell a story, but I do not go with any preconceived idea. I like to be as spontaneous as possible,” she says.

And what does she enjoy most – acting, writing poetry, painting, photography or directing serials? “That is difficult to answer, for every creative experience is satisfying in itself. Also, there are no water-tight compartments, one thing flows into the other. As far as painting and photography are concerned, these are inter-related skills and I was taught both,” she says adding, “to be a complete artist, it is essential to have a ‘feel’ for all forms of art. The fact that I was trained in painting, helped me compose my photographs; my academic training in psychology and American theatre helped me to evolve into an actress and all this helped when I turned into a director,” she says.

As a poetess Deepti writes in both Hindi and English. Her collection of poems Lamha Lamha created ripples in the Hindi literary circles, as was her solo painting show in 1994 at the Jehangir Gallery, Mumbai, appreciated by critics and collectors alike.

And when will we see her next on the celluloid? “Whenever I get an interesting role,” she says adding, “there is a project coming up, but it is too early to say anything. I prefer to be out of work rather than take up meaningless projects” she says.

Well, surely her fans – who have appreciated her in feature films such as Ek Bar Phir, Kamla, Mirch Masala, Andhi Gali, Panchvati, Main Zinda Hoon and in comedies such as Chashm-e-Baddoor, Angoor, Katha see her in roles that bring out her potentials than in roles where she would be wasting her caliber.

Deepti feels that she has enjoyed every role that she has played. “I enjoy doing whatever I do, be it acting, directing, taking photographs, painting or writing poetry. As far as acting is concerned, I enjoyed doing Kamla, Chashm-e-baddor, Mirch Masala, Ankahi and directing and acting Thodasa Aasman.