‘It was painful for me to come on the periphery after being in the centre’
After a sabbatical, an actor has to prove oneself to get back in business. And if the break was due to an illness, then the actor’s grit and determination must be double to make a comeback. One such example is Manisha Koirala.
Having returned to cinema after battling Ovarian Cancer, the actor has now penned her journey of recovery in a book titled Healed. She admits that she was initially inclined to take up only lead roles after her sabbatical. Manisha explains, “Rightly so, I wanted to do the main lead; for any actor who has been the centre of a story, it becomes really painful to come on the periphery. But, that is the law of the nature. However, in today’s time, even in the peripheral roles, good directors are exploring important characters. For instance, in Sanju, no doubt Ranbir (Kapoor) is the protagonist of the film but his friend also performed brilliantly. In totality, what I have understood about today’s cinema is that the film has to work. Look at Badhaai Ho (2018). Neena Gupta plays the lead in that film; she’s 60 plus and has acted brilliantly. So, I’m hungry for good directors and good roles,” says the actor who was last seen portraying Nargis in Sanju (2018).
So, if the parameter in her first innings was to choose a film that had a leading male co-star, in her second stint, it’s the content of the story and the character sketch. “Earlier also, I always got good directors to work with; whether it was Mansoor Khan, Sanjay Leela Bhansali or Mani Ratnam. But, in today’s time, for sure, the script and the film-maker are the bosses,” says the actor.
Her change of mind could be because of the influence that a few films had on her. “In recent times, I have seen four to five films which we would have never thought of [in the ’90s]. Even if these were made, no one would think that they will be a commercial success. I saw Manto, and Andhadhun and they have become hits in their own respect. In 1990s, we ran around trees, acted over the top, and had more melodrama. Today, cinema is realistic and there are grey areas of a character. And the audience, today, is more informed,” she says.