The Artistic Deepti Naval

3 weeks ago / by Abhijit Masih

From playing the new girl next door in Chashme Budoor in 1981 to the role of a mother stricken with dementia in Goldfish – Deepti Naval has played varied characters similar to her multi-faceted personality. Her contribution to Indian art cinema is immense but she is also a director, painter, photographer and soon to be an author. Deepti Naval spoke to SEEMA about her experience working on Goldfish, the new-age method of filmmaking and shared fond memories of her films and people in her life.

How do you choose the films you want to be a part of and what drew you to Goldfish?

I liked the very idea of the film.  For me it is very important that the director is saying something with honesty – probing the equation between a mother and a daughter and their estranged relationship got me interested in the film.

How was the experience working with Kalki Koechlin and Rajit Kapoor on the film?

I loved working with Kalki. She is a very fine actor and we hit it off right away once we met on the set. One of the reasons for me to say yes to the role was that I’d get to work with Kalki. With Rajit I already have a comfort zone as I directed him in ‘Do Paise Ki Dhoop, Chaar Aane Ki Baarish’ (now on Netflix) – and he is a very sincere actor. It was wonderful working with both of them.

What went into the preparation to play the role of a person battling dementia in Goldfish?

Unfortunately for me, I didn’t have to tap into much as I’d just gone though my mother’s dementia and seen her deteriorate gradually. It just brought back the pain—and while performing it was cathartic for me.

You have been involved with films from a time when there were no scripts and an informal method of film making to now with bound scripts and studio led time-bound film making – how different is it now and what do you miss of the older way?

It’s much more professional approach now to everything – much more organized and I love working with the new lot of directors and young actors. But I do miss the coziness of our times.

You have had some memorable roles with the late Farooq Sheikh and you shared a warm relationship with him – it’s going to be 10 years since his passing – what do you miss most about him and which was the most memorable film with him?

For me it was ’Saath Saath’ as my role had some meat in it. There was much more depth in the character that I played, though she was initially a bubbly college girl – but events turn and she takes a stand against the man she was once in love with. We were very good friends and shared a lovely bond off screen as well – we were great buddies.

What are the exciting projects you are currently working on?

I have just finished writing my childhood memoir titled – ‘A Country Called Childhood’. It has taken five years to complete and I was avoiding films – except for Goldfish – this one I could not resist. But from now on, I’m all set to look at a few scripts that have come my way and would love to get back to work after this long gap.

Would you say that there is a lot more options and mediums available now for actors and filmmakers to explore and experiment with diverse topics than before?

Yes, OTT platform is providing a lot more opportunities now.

Which are the three most satisfying roles you have done so far?

‘Ankahi’, ‘Main Zinda Hoon’, ‘Leela’ where I play an NRI woman, and ‘Memories in March’.

Who are the film-makers you have enjoyed working with the most and why?

Hrishi Da – Hrishikesh Mukherjee – he was a sweetheart.

You’ve lived in America for a long time, do you think the taste and the acceptability of content here has moved beyond mainstream Bollywood?

Oh yes, for sure. Issues we could not tackle before are all being addressed now.