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Interview of Geetanjali Thapa, National Award winner Gorkha Actress

Geetanjali Thapa came to Mumbai for a film opposite Ranvir Shorey that never happened. Destiny had a better plan for the talented actor. She made her debut with Kamal K.M.’s “I.D.” which won her two awards internationally: Best Actor at Los Angeles Film Festival and ImagineIndia International Film Festival. After “I.D.”, she has acted in “Monsoon Shootout” that premiered at Cannes this year. Her success story doesn’t stop at that; Thapa will soon be seen in Oscar winning director Danis Tanovic’s Indian project. Geetanjali Thapa talks about her journey:

Tell us about your journey from Sikkim to Mumbai.
After I finished my school in Sikkim, I was in Calcutta for my graduation. I used to do a bit of modelling there. I had just moved to Delhi for further studies when I got an offer for a film and I landed up in Bombay. That film got shelved. I was lost, disheartened and didn’t know what to do. Thankfully I met some really nice people who introduced me to casting directors and coordinators. I started giving auditions for films and TV commercials. That’s when I heard of the film Kamal was making and auditioned for it.  Looking back, I’m happy the way things turned out because now I’m getting to do good films.

How did you become a part of I.D.?  
I heard of the film Kamal was making from the casting director Mukesh Chabbra’s team. I met him, he narrated the script and I really liked it. I went through two rounds of auditions followed by a month long workshop with the other actors under the guidance of Megh Pant.

You have won two awards for your performance in I.D. How did you prepare for the character of Charu in the film?
We went through extensive workshops and rehearsals to thrash out Charu’s character. I learned so much during that period. Megh would bring us all together and ask us to do various scenes. I was very nervous and shy initially and he helped me break the ice and get comfortable with the rest of the team. Kamal took me to various locations to get a sense of people’s day-to-day lives. It was an eye-opener and great fun at the same time. I could relate to Charu because I am a displaced person myself. I too came to Mumbai in search of a job and I too, lead a similar life. We share that sense of displacement, having found ourselves in a city of strangers, trying to grapple with the chaos and finding our feet at the same time.

Have you been trained formally in acting?
No, I’ve had no formal training in acting.

As an actor, what kind of preparation do you put into your roles?
I am forever anxious. I religiously attend the workshops and the rehearsals. That’s where we get to discuss the characters we are playing and get a chance to know our co-actors and everyone working in the film.

In Independent films like I.D. and Monsoon Shootout, is the role of an actor any different from mainstream films? What kind of involvement do independent films demand?
I don’t really know about mainstream films. I guess each film is built around its characters and story, be it mainstream or independent, so the role of an actor cannot be less or more important. Also, from whatever little work experience I have, I can say that in independent films, everyone does everything. While we were filming I.D., there were no departments or specific designations. We were all multi-tasking, putting in our heart and soul to make a good film. I will always be grateful to the team as I got to learn so much about filmmaking from the masters of the craft.

What kind of films do you want to work in?
Indian cinema is undergoing a transition in terms of its content and aesthetics. There are filmmakers making different kinds of films, pushing beyond the tried and tested and they find commercial success. I want to do good films, work hard and learn as much as I can.

Being from Sikkim, are there any prejudices you face in films?
I’ve been fortunate so far and haven’t faced any hostility. There are times when I’ve been told that I don’t look ‘Indian’ enough but I don’t hold it against anyone. There are people who are giving me work and I’m doing the kind of films that I want to.

Which are the upcoming films we will see you in?
After I.D., I have worked in three films – Monsoon Shootout by Amit Kumar, Liar’s Dice by Geetu Mohandas and White Lies (working title) by Danis Tanovic.

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