Manisha Koirala says after her cancer treatment, she used to look like an alien as she lost her hair. Now she is “quite kicked” to play late actor Nargis Dutt, the mother of actor Sanjay Dutt, in his biopic.
Manisha, known for her roles in films like 1942: A Love Story, Agni Sakshi, Saudagar and Bombay, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012.
Being an actor, did she get worried about her look after chemotherapy? “I knew about my hair loss, but was not sure of my look.At times, after surviving from a disease like cancer... people’s look changes. All I knew was that I had to mentally prepare to fight it and I got a huge support from my family. After my chemotherapy, I lost my hair, eye brows and lashes. Looking at the mirror... I felt like an alien,” said Manisha.
During her illness, many Bollywood celebrities including Salman Khan and Gulshan Grover reached out to her family to know about her health. The film industry welcomed her after her cancer battle, she said.
Sharing the story behind bagging the role of Nargis Dutt, Manisha said, “Though I wanted to get back to work, I was nourishing my body and focusing on my health as chemotherapy damaged some of my body cells. I was in Nepal then, when I got a call from Raju ji (director Rajkumar Hirani). He told me about the film and my character.”
So, how is she preparing for the role? “I watched a documentary. I am watching her (Nargis Dutt’s) films again and again and talking to (daughter) Priya Dutt a lot to know how she was in real life, her body language, how she used to talk, smile. I’m trying to get all the nuances right,” said the Filmfare award-winning actor.
Born into a politically prominent Koirala family in Nepal, Manisha started her journey in Bollywood in 1991 with Saudagar, directed by Subhash Ghai. Since then she has worked with celebrated filmmakers like Mani Ratman, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Ram Gopal Varma and Mansoor Khan.
Indian cinema has changed drastically in the last five years. Asked how she looks at the changes, Manisha said, “One of the positive changes is that the audience is accepting films on experimental subjects so, these new-age films are getting financial success. It is no more those melodramatic films in Hindi cinema. So, filmmakers are ready to make films with different subjects.”
She is currently going through a look test and leading a holistic life to prepare for the biopic. She will start shooting for her part from May.