Deepti Naval describes acting as the best way to live a life, and in her career of nearly forty years, the actress has navigated her way through heartbreaks and fading work. The veteran is thankful that she never became "convoluted" during the highs and lows.
Naval focused on her career in parallel cinema amid plenty of advice to appear in mainstream films. She recalls being told there's nothing left in parallel cinema, "no one even watches it."
But she continued to feature in films like Chashme Buddoor, Ankahee, Mirch Masala among others in the '80s. She most recently starred in one episode of the Amazon Prime Video series Made in Heaven.
"Every decade there's a new trend of films. Something else is more liked by the audience, something else is more popular. People say you need to realign your career with the new, of course, but you have to basically stick to what you believe in doing," Naval told PTI.
"You've to stand for the work that you do. The trend in cinema will keep changing, but do the kind of work you want to do within that changing scenario, keep picking what convinces you," she adds.
Reflecting on her close to four-decade-long career, the 67-year-old actress says it isn't always difficult to stick to one's conviction but the lean periods can be particularly tough.
"I have gone through mine, when I felt the kind of cinema I want to be a part of isn't there at all. The '80s were marvelous, splendid years for all of us - Shabana (Azmi), Me, Smita Patil, Om Puri, Naseeruddin Shah, Farooq Shaikh, we did our best work then.
"Then in the '90s there was some lucky work coming along but after that, somewhere in the late '90s, I felt that not much is happening and I was not getting the stuff I wanted to do."
This lean period, the she says, would've hit her hard if she hadn't branched out to find more outlets for her creativity.
"I had been writing throughout for long but (during that phase) I went back to painting in a major way because I felt I have to be creative at all costs, under all circumstances, whatever it is. My creative process shouldn't stop.
"Because I had other means of expressions, I was lucky that I didn't go under and start becoming all convoluted in my head. That can happen, if you're a serious actor and you're here to really be a part of cinema, and when cinema ignores you, it can be devastating," she says.
For Naval, the phase lasted for a few years before she picked up steam again with films like Firaaq, Memories of March and Listen Amaya.
"My painting and writing has always been parallel. That's why probably where my colleagues have done 300 films, I have done only about a 100, out of which I'd say at least 30-35 films I am even proud of."
"You can't be in the industry without your share of heartbreaks, disappointments, and frustrations also. But as long as you're able to stick to your guts and pick the roles you really want to do, the whole journey becomes worthwhile," she added.
Naval was recently honored with Excellence in Cinema award at the JIO MAMI Mumbai Festival with Star.
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