Tannishtha Chatterjee is truly an international actress and has made her presence known not only in Hindi cinema but also in German, Bengali, Indo-French and English films. She was critically acclaimed for her performance as Masha in the German/Bengali film Schatten der Zeit (Shadows of Time) starring opposite Irrfan Khan. In 2007 she was nominated at the British Independent Film Awards for her work in Brick Lane. The actress has worked with a multitude of directors including Florian Gallenberger, Subrata Sen, Sarah Gavron, Dev Benegal and Raja Menon. In fact she was seen in Raja Menon’s first film Bas Yun Hi and in his most recent film the critically praised Barah Aana. Though in a relatively small role she makes quite an impact and is brilliant as Rani in the film. She recently talked with BollySpice about her work in the different film industries as well as all about Barah Aana.
Just 6 years old in films and so much acclaim has constantly been bestowed upon you, how does it feel to achieve so much in such a small span of time?
Want to achieve more. This is just the beginning. There are so many stories to be told and so many more characters to be played.
Had you always imagined yourself onscreen or did you have other plans for a career?
I had no plans for any thing. I completed Bsc (hons) in Chemistry from Delhi University and I have no clue how and why I went to Drama school after that. I have to admit that onscreen career happened to me. I had not planned it. A wise man once said that “Life is what happens to you while you keep making plans.” I am a firm believer of that.
Coming to Barah Aana, what drew you to the character of Rani?
The film I did before Barah Aana was Brick Lane where I played a very introvert character. Barah Aana’s Rani was just the opposite. And Raja and I have been friends for a long time. So I had to do his second film.
The press and the media in general seem to be describing the film in various ways, some say its dark, some say its drama while others call it a comedy, how would you describe the genre of Barah Aana?
The film is a reflection of life. In life we are not always sad or happy. Like it is in life, the film has its moments of ups and downs in the life of the characters. Likewise it has comic moments like we have in life. Audiences I guess take a slice of what moves them the most.
This was your second time around working with director Raja Menon, how was the experience?
Awful!(obviously that’s a joke) Raja and I have been talking about this film when he thought about the idea. So I was very involved in the project right from the beginning. At that time none of us knew that there would be a part for me in the film. It was about the three men. But then Rani came along somewhere while he was writing.
When you look back at the making of the film do remember a specific memorable moment?
I always try to avoid this question. Those are secrets we share while filming. And it remains as fond memories with us.
You’ve attempted such a wide range of genres, from international cinema to a film like Barah Aana set in the core of Mumbai, so with such a wide range of films what is it that you look for in your films that makes up jump at the offer?
Interesting roles to play. Well thought out scripts. I try avoiding type casting though sometimes that’s difficult. I also am selective about the people I work with. I like to work with energetic and creative people but pleasant as well. I like a committed yet relaxed environment to work in.
Having worked in different areas of cinema such as German, Indian, Bengali and English, what are some traits that remain the same across these various houses of cinema and what are some things that you noticed to be different?
Feeling different. Human emotions are same in every culture. The way it expresses it self is different. The difference is sometimes in styles and sometimes in stories as well. But a lot of the technical side is very similar. Though the way stories are edited in different cultures may vary. That has to do with different styles of story telling.
You’re also trained in Indian classical singing and have sported the title of a ‘singer’ a couple of times, do you see your focus shifting to the musical arena anytime soon or do you enjoy having a good balance of both acting and singing?
Again I don’t know where life would take me. But, yes right now I am doing some work with music and collaborating with some international musicians.
Do you see yourself in a, what we call, ‘commercial’ or ‘masala’ type of Indian cinema anytime in the future?
That’s a mystery!
In your busy schedule do receive much time to watch Indian cinema, if so who are some of your favourite artists and makers of recent times?
Madhuri Dixit, Shah Rukh, Aamir, Akshay, Saif, Shaheed, Hrithik…. I like them all actually. Bollywood is such a blast. I have not seen anything this year though. When I come back to India in October, I will catch up.
Lastly what do you think is the most prominent reason why audiences should not give Barah Aana a miss?
It’s a reflection of life and times we all live and experience. It’s relatable and engaging.
As she said, “There are so many stories to be told and so many more characters to be played” and we cannot wait to see more of her performances. If you have not seen Barah Aana, be sure to check it out! It is not a movie to be missed!