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Manisha Koirala

The New Queen of Hearts

Courtesy Asia-Online

A Matured Manisha Koirala Bares Her Heart: "I Have Mellowed Down With Time"

The impulsive, "I give a damn girl" who had once made headlines for her arrogance, uninhibited lifestyle and her views on men seems to have given way to a more matured, poised Manisha Koirala, who is totally in control of herself and dead serious about her career.
The transformation is distinctly evident. Is it the influence of Nana Patekar? Or is it the new found awareness of her status as serious actress. "No one has projected me the way I am" she huffs, before unraveling her views on her on screen and off screen image. Excerpts from an interview.

Q : Coming to the industry grapevine, it is believed that Nana is taking considerable interest in your career. The number of films you are doing with him only established this fact.
A : It is not as if I am doing the maximum number of films only with Nana. I know what people are speculating, that she is seeing Nana, so she must be working with him too. Since Nana is looked upon with great awe and respect in the industry, they probably think he is also guiding me in my career. I hate it if somebody gives the credit for my career to the men in my life.
I am where I am today only because of myself. It has nothing to do with somebody helping me out in my career, or guiding me, I may appear to be soft spoken and timid in my behavior, but, I am fiercely independent and strong headed person from within. Of course, you cannot help wagging tongues. Let people say what they have to.

Q : But you do agree that you have finally found the dependable man in your life in Nana?
A : Nana and me are good friends, and I don't understand why people are giving this relationship the name of an affair. I have always maintained that he is a good friend mine, someone I can trust. I don't think I owe any explanation to anybody about the kind of relationship I share with Nana.

Q : There was a time in my life when you came to be known for your extravagant lifestyle. Your views on men, drinking and adultery are fairly well known. Don't you feel apprehensive at any stage, that all this can affect your image as an actress?
A : I don't believe in an image at all. Look, I know when the audiences are shut down in a theater and made to watch a film for three hours. During those three hours, they don't think whether the actress they are watching on screen has a certain lifestyle or whether she drinks or smokes. It is difficult for them to have a two dimensional mind at that moment.
I don't think an actress's personal life has an impact on her professional life. It is important to do a good job in the role you are playing which is an achievement by itself. Of course, I do agree that I did make bold and outrageous statements in my interviews because that was the way I saw things and believed in them. I was also disgusted with the lies that were circulating around about me. I felt like revolting, knowing that speaking out the truth was the best solution under the circumstances. Had I lied to myself and tried to be diplomatic and hypocritical, I would still be losing something. I would rather have people speculating on my lifestyle by being honest rather than killing my conscience by lying. But now I have mellowed down with the time and the years I have spent in the industry.

Q : Have you become cautious now ?
A : I haven't become cautious really, but I have seen the uselessness of being talked about too often. It doesn't pay. The people around you and the media tend to exploit you when you are vulnerable. Why create a controversy and allow people to debate on your ideology of life? The things you believe could be debatable for others, so why make a big noise about it? Besides you don't get anything in return, by letting others know what you think is right or wrong. Let other people be talked about, let them be shocking. I did my bit and I am happy about it. I have no regrets. I did what I wanted to do and now I am doing what I should.

Q : Coming to your career, don't you agree that Agnisakshi has been the major plus point in your career, in the sense that it brought you current standing in the industry?
A : I don't think just one Agnisakshi has elevated me to my position in the industry. Your contribution to a film matters more than the success of a film. An actor or an actress could have ten hit films, but what is taken note of is the kind of contribution he or she has made to the film. There are actresses who have given much bigger hits than me, so how come they haven't achieved it?
Your respectability eventually comes only through your performance, whether the film is a hit or a flop. Likewise, some of my films like Khamoshi failed to make an impact, but the same is not true of my performance. I don't think I am exaggerating if I say that I have managed to make a mark in each of my performances, irrespective of the role and its duration.

Q : Industry know all blame the lack of stability in your career to all the wrong decisions you made by signing films like Ram Shastra, in which you had only a couple of scenes, and added your flop list?
A : Ram Shastra was a gesture of friendship towards a friend, Firoze Nadiawala who has always been there for me a when I need him. In any case, my role in the film was only meant to boost the commercial value of the film.
It is a fact that I signed more of the wrong films than the right films in my career. I did agree that I made a blunder by signing these films. Some of the films are equally inconsequential. It is painful for me to carry on doing them but I cannot backtrack on the decisions I had once taken. I have no other option. I cannot push them in a corner and ignore them just because I have better options today.
There are stars in the industry, who manipulate and side track smaller films which they consider mistakes in their career. But I am no capable of doing that . Ultimately, I have to live with my conscience. I can afford to be a failure, but I cannot afford to be a bad performance, I will never be content ruining somebody else's life.