Back With a BANG

From hit­ting rock bot­tom to bounc­ing back stronger, hers is a story of rare courage and grit… In an ab­so­lutely heart­warm­ing in­ter­view with ‘H&N’, Man­isha Koirala bares all About fight­ing can­cer, cop­ing with di­vorce, mak­ing a come­back in Bol­ly­wood and more

Health & Nutrition - - FIT & FAMOUS -

She played the role of can­cer-struck Nar­gis in the movie ‘Sanju’ quite con­vinc­ingly. Per­haps, some­where, she could re­late to it her­self. The shock of be­ing di­ag­nosed with can­cer, the pain of the treat­ment, the un­cer­tainty of it all… But to­day, it’s all be­hind her… Man­isha Koirala, the Nepali beauty who mes­mer­ized In­di­ans with some splen­did per­for­mances in the ‘90s, is back with a bang, after giv­ing the dread­ful ‘c’ word – can­cer – a tough fight. She’s back in the movies too, want­ing to bet­ter her­self as an ac­tress with each pass­ing role. And if that’s not enough, she’s also an ac­claimed mo­ti­va­tional speaker in­spir­ing peo­ple across the world with her life ex­pe­ri­ences and lessons.

Meet­ing Man­isha We meet the 46-year-old at her beau­ti­fully done up house at Mum­bai’s Yaari Road, a sub­urb home to many a Bol­ly­wood and TV star. Plenty of bougainvilla flow­ers and in­door plants adorn the liv­ing room of her 14th floor apart­ment. But what catches our eye is a big tree trunk dec­o­ra­tively placed right in the mid­dle of the room giv­ing you the il­lu­sion of be­ing amidst na­ture. An­tique wooden fur­ni­ture and a wooden stair­case lead­ing up to the ter­race lend the place a rus­tic feel, while the white cur­tains and so­fas add seren­ity and calm. The big win­dows open out into the blue sky out­side. Man­isha’s home feels like a piece of heaven on earth. Dressed ca­su­ally in a printed house robe with hair tied back, she welcomes us warmly into her abode. The doe eyes still sparkle, and the smile is as ra­di­ant as ever… We con­grat­u­late her on her bril­liant come­back. Two re­leases in a month, Hindi biopic ‘Sanju’ and ‘Lust Sto­ries’, a web se­ries, and both per­for­mances much raved-about… “It was a happy sur­prise,” she smiles. And adds, “But I had done a good film last year called ‘Dear Maya’, which went un­no­ticed. After that, there was a lull. I had al­most de­cided to go back to Nepal and do some gar­den­ing, ren­o­vate the house and look after the dogs, when sud­denly these projects hap­pened and I am back in the news!” the sec­ond com­ing While ‘Sanju’ saw her play­ing a mother who suc­cumbs to can­cer, in ‘Lust Sto­ries’, she played an adul­ter­ous wife and was seen don­ning a swim­suit too, a first for Man­isha. How did she play two con­trast­ing roles si­mul­ta­ne­ously? “Hon­estly, I’m still old school and was not com­fort­able with my role in ‘Lust Sto­ries’ but I trusted Dibakar, and liked his sen­si­bil­ity as a film­maker. As for ‘Sanju’, I tried to fo­cus on the spirit of Nar­gis Dutt. Though she had can­cer, as a mother, she was so con­cerned about Sanju’s ca­reer, his life, and was al­ways so full of love for him. I wanted to bring out that el­e­ment of alive­ness

in her. Both the roles slowly ex­cited me.” Was she able to iden­tify with the char­ac­ter of Nar­gis, hav­ing been there? She looks out into the sky from the win­dow, and smiles and says, “Well, we both had a sim­i­lar health cri­sis. There was also the fact that in front of our loved ones, we pre­tended to be fine but in­side, it was a dif­fer­ent story. So, yes, there were lots of things I could re­late to.” Fac­ing the dreaded ‘c’ Word Man­isha’s own tryst with can­cer started in the year 2012 when she was in Nepal with her fam­ily. She goes down mem­ory lane and tells us, “Sud­denly, I started hav­ing weird ex­pe­ri­ences. My stom­ach had started bloat­ing and I would feel sick for long pe­ri­ods of time. A nor­mal cough and cold that would be gone in three-four days would take two weeks. That felt very odd but I put it down to life­style, age, stress etc. But this con­tin­ued for months and my stom­ach started bloat­ing re­ally badly and hurt­ing too. When it be­came un­bear­able, I did a CT scan, which re­vealed that I had ovar­ian can­cer, which had spread and was a late stage.” The dev­as­tat­ing news changed ev­ery­thing… “It felt like I was tast­ing food for the last time, and see­ing ev­ery­thing for the last time. Noth­ing can com­pare that feel­ing of ev­ery­thing be­ing snatched away from you. So it’s quite a spot you’re in,” she says, laugh­ing about it now. the Big Fight Be­gins – surgery, chemo & More The next thing she did was fly down to Mum­bai, and when she was told by the doc­tors in Mum­bai that she needed a com­pli­cated surgery, she de­cided to take off to New York straight­away. “My doc­tors clearly told me that it was not go­ing to be an easy surgery. There was a pos­si­bil­ity that I could be dead dur­ing the surgery. It was that bad,” she rem­i­nisces. “Then it struck me that a se­nior politi­cian who had can­cer was treated in New York, and so was a well-known sportsper­son. My mother had a cou­ple of friends in the US who

“Sud­denly, I started hav­ing weird ex­pe­ri­ences. My stom­ach had started bloat­ing and I would feel sick for long A pe­ri­ods of time. nor­mal cough and be cold that would gone in three-four days would take two weeks.”

“It felt like I was tast­ing food for the last time, and see­ing ev­ery­thing for the last time. Noth­ing can com­pare that feel­ing of ev­ery­thing be­ing snatched away from you.”

were doc­tors. So, within a span of 24 hours, we de­cided to go to the US for the surgery. “By the grace of God, we got an ap­point­ment with the best sur­geon in ovar­ian can­cer there, and the surgery was done suc­cess­fully. Soon, started the whole process of chemo­ther­apy and amaz­ingly, my body re­sponded re­ally well. The treat­ment was over but nor­mally in the stage of can­cer that I was in, I was told that it re­lapses within three years. Now, I knew I would live but didn’t know for how long.” Wak­ing up to a new person – Mak­ing health pri­or­ity She came back to Mum­bai with a smile, but also re­al­ized that she had to make cer­tain changes in her life now… And this change in per­cep­tion brought about a whole host of amend­ments to make, es­pe­cially where her health, diet and fit­ness were

con­cerned. “I started do­ing a lot of re­search on the in­ter­net. I be­came part of fo­rums for can­cer pa­tients. I con­tacted sur­vivors and asked them how they trans­formed their lives. I found out that all it needed was an at­ti­tude change - they were hap­pier, in­vested a lot more in their fam­i­lies and contributed to so­ci­ety in dif­fer­ent ways. “But I also re­al­ized that my life­style was to­tally un­healthy, so I had to work on that first. I con­sulted nu­tri­tion­ists Vi­jaya Venkat and Rachna Chachi. Rachna’s book ‘Re­store’ on fight­ing in­flam­ma­tion in the body helped a great deal. I spoke to crick­eter Yu­vraj Singh and asked him what changes he made in his life. I read, read and read, and gath­ered enough in­for­ma­tion to start ap­ply­ing it on my­self.”

Fo­cus­ing on eMo­tional health While she was heal­ing her body, Man­isha also re­al­ized the im­por­tance of heal­ing her mind and sought help from psy­chother­a­pist Eric Mistry. To­day, she strongly rec­om­mends psy­chother­apy to all those who feel anx­ious and de­pressed. Ex­plains she,

“I started do­ing a lot of re­search on the in­ter­net. I be­came part of fo­rums for can­cer pa­tients. I con­tacted sur­vivors and asked them how they trans­formed their lives.”

“There is a vast dif­fer­ence be­tween a psy­chol­o­gist and psy­chother­a­pist. Psy­chother­apy is a far more spir­i­tual process; it’s about dis­cov­er­ing and nav­i­gat­ing your in­ner world. Sadly, treat­ing one­self for men­tal health is still looked down upon in our so­ci­ety. I was ap­pre­hen­sive too but once I started go­ing for it, I un­der­stood that our body and mind are in­ter­linked. It’s hu­man ten­dency to cling onto pain a lot more than hap­pi­ness. And if you’re dis­turbed in your men­tal body - are hurt and car­ry­ing that grudge for long - it will man­i­fest in disease in your phys­i­cal body. So, it be­came very clear to me that I had to be in a good, peace­ful state of mind.” Then, in 2014, after al­most a year-and-a-half of the surgery, she went to One­ness Univer­sity, a spir­i­tual heal­ing cen­tre in Chen­nai, and lived there for six months to fur­ther un­der­stand her in­ner self and heal. “It’s still work in progress but I know that I need to be mind­ful about the bal­ance of my body, mind and spirit.

“Ifyou’re in dis­turbed your­men­tal hurt body-are and­car­ry­ing that­grudge will for­long-it man­i­festin your dis­ea­sein phys­i­cal­body.”

To­day, ev­ery day that I live, I’m grate­ful for liv­ing and watch­ful about my body. I know when my body is tired and needs sleep. Sleep is very im­por­tant in heal­ing as the cells re­build them­selves dur­ing sleep. So I make sure I get eight hours of sleep ev­ery day. I drink a lot of wa­ter. I say ‘no’ to al­co­hol and late nights. It’s all about know­ing what’s right for your body,” she adds. So, how dif­fi­cult was the process of turn­ing over a new leaf and in­cul­cat­ing new habits? “It’s ac­tu­ally been the most joy­ful process,” she re­veals. “I know my friends miss me at par­ties but they un­der­stand me. Like, for ‘Sanju’, I was the one who en­cour­aged Raju (Hi­rani) to have a suc­cess party. So I go for par­ties and dance too but when it’s 11 p.m, it’s past bed­time as my bed­time is 9.30-10.00 p.m. So I start walk­ing out when the cater­ers are com­ing in,” she adds with a laugh.

can­cer-Free & grat­i­tude-Full When three years passed, and there was no risk of a re­cur­rence, Man­isha was re­lieved. When an­other two years passed, she knew it was time to cel­e­brate… “To­day, when I look back, I’m grate­ful in some weird way be­cause I’m re­ally en­joy­ing my life now. That jolt was ac­tu­ally a gift from the divine as my whole per­cep­tion in life shifted. And even if I have to go some­day, I won’t re­gret any­thing be­cause at least after can­cer, I know what liv­ing means,” she tells us. “We as­so­ciate hap­pi­ness with cer­tain dreams and as­pi­ra­tions - once I have a Mercedes, big flat, big raise, I will be happy. But hap­pi­ness is a frame of mind. You can be happy sit­ting here not hav­ing those things and be grate­ful if it comes and grate­ful if it doesn’t come too. That at­ti­tude change in me has made me full of grat­i­tude for liv­ing. I don’t mull over

“Icon­sulted Vi­jaya nu­tri­tion­ists Rachna Venkatand Chachi.Rachna’s on book‘Re­store’ n in­flam­ma­tio fight­ing helped inthe­body Ialso agreat­deal. spoke­tocrick­eter and Yu­vra­jSingh what asked­him made changeshe in his life.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.