“I don’t want to be the Nirupa Roy of Indian Cinema” – Tisca Chopra

Tisca Chopra talks physical transformations, typecasting and working with Naseeruddin Shah.

You’ve undergone a massive physical transformation for Chutney. How do you react when you see the final product? 

Thank God it’s done! We arrived at the book in a piecemeal sort of way. I had no idea how it would look since we tried many elements to put this together. On the day of the shoot, in Chandni Chowk, I stepped out on to set and everyone just stared at me. I said, “Hello, say something. Don’t just look at me like that.” Because you never know if it’s going to work or not. You’re trying something extreme.

What made you push the boundary to tell this story? 

A lot of times we write people off based on their look. We believe that the exciting stories are only with the ones who look exciting and pop up in our daily scheme of things. I was very interested in the story of the ordinary person. She is supposed to be not nice looking. In many ways it is the revenge of the geeks. 

tisca chopra

Acting is often a feast or famine situation. How did you tide over the famine & cash in on the feast? 

I’ve made things hard for myself ever since I decided that I won’t choose to do a lot of the films I get. The Bollywood formula is such that if you do one thing well, the next thing I know is they want me to be the new Nirupa Roy or Kirron Kher. I mean no disrespect to those fantastic ladies, they are fabulous. But I’m not that person, I want to do different things. I don’t want to sing in one raag for the rest of my life. It’s so boring. 

Then how to you move past the stages of famine, when nothing exciting comes your way? 

I tried to do other things. In the early days, I tried to take up a job as a computer something. Fortunately, it didn’t work out since I had no tech knowledge whatsoever. They looked at me and said, “No, please go away.” That’s when I realised I was just not interested or invested in anything else. What worked for me is that I write a lot and now I’ve started producing and I had such wicked fun doing that! 

tisca chopra

You’re currently working with Naseeruddin Shah. He’s known to be a temperamental man. Tell us what that working dynamic was like? 

We’re working on a feature together. I must share this anecdote, we were workshopping for the feature and I thought I was asking this very cool question. So I went up to him and said, “Sir what is the first thing that one does when one gets a script?” He looked at me, completely poker-faced, and said, “Learn your lines and don’t walk into the furniture.” That’s it. I decided not to ask any questions after that. 

You can catch the full conversation with Tisca Chopra here.

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