She might not have joined the list of stars garnering gold at the box office or those whose glitzy appearances drive the audiences crazy, but actress Tillotama Shome feels privileged to be a part of some wonderful films in not only India but abroad too.
Starting with her role as a maid in Mira Nair’s “Monsoon Wedding”, she has a part in many Hindi and Bengali as well as international films.
The actress said that she was not yet “satisfied” but was not “restless” for success as well.
“I am never satisfied but I am not restless either because I have been gifted some life altering films…I want to endlessly surprise myself and not get lazy,” Tillotama told IANS in an email interaction.
The actress will be next seen in film “Children Of War”, which is based on the formation of Bangladesh. With what can be safely referred to as a hard hitting plot, the film promises to provide food for thought.
Tillotama portrays the sturdy role of a rape victim who is fighting the independence struggle.
It was the script that made the actress want to be a part of the film.
“The script is what made me say yes to being a part of this film,” she said.
The movie is not independent of controversies and reports suggest that it might be banned in Pakistan. However, this is of no importance to the actress, who was prepared for such consequences.
“Controversy is a very blunt tool and often has no real teeth. So we shall cross the bridge when we are there,” she said.
She has not only managed to create a niche with Indian films like Qaushiq Mukherjee’s “Tasher Desh” and Dibakar Banerjee’s “Shanghai” but has proved her mettle in international films like “Shadows of Time” and “The Waiting City”.
The actress never planned these projects, which never came to her when she was studying in New York.
“Life is beautifully strange. These international films came to me not in the four years that I lived in New York but after I moved back to Bombay (Mumbai). I want to act; that is the only plan I have for now. How do you even begin to plan life?” asked the actress, who will soon be working on two more international projects – “Sold” by Jeffrey Brown and “A New Life” by Andreas Kleinert.
She however refuses to put international directors on a “pedestal”.
“Every director has a different style. There is no international style of direction. So, there is no need to romanticize and put international directors on a pedestal,” she said.
“The directors in our country that I have worked with have an incredibly sophisticated way of working which is uniquely their own,” Tillotama noted.
Growing up with “a stammer”, the actress wanted to do the “impossible”. Challenging herself to go beyond what seemed realistic to her, Tillotama chose to act in films, be it commercial or non- commercial.
“The commercial vs non-commercial is a very limiting dichotomy. I grew up with a stammer and I made a conscious choice to do the one thing that felt impossible for someone like me: To Act! I challenged that self perception and wanted to see how far I could take that challenge,” she said.
The script is principal for the actress while choosing to take on a role.
“I do read the script. If I like it, then I re-read the script and ensure that it was not a figment of my imagination. I meet the director and that’s where the dance starts,” she said.
With her father serving in the Indian Air Force, the actress often changed locations as a child and adhering to a new life every few years was something which taught her acting.
“My father was in the air force and every few years, we went to a different part of India and I learnt a new language and forgot the one before. Acting was a continuation of that kind of traveling I guess…from one life to another,” she said.