by Sherif Awad
-I come from a mixed background. My maternal grandfather Prantosh Chatterjee was a judge in court during the British rule. He was also in the army and fought in World War II. My paternal grandfather Hemanta Kumar Mukherjee was a singer and music composer. My mother Moushumi Chatterjee co-incidentally was a very well known actress in Bollywood and the Bengali Film Industry
I grew up in a very normal atmosphere though. I never attended any shoots with my mother as she didn’t want me skipping school. I was a very bullied and distracted child watching films and cartoons which was a great comfort. I was fascinated watching how models and actors get so versatile and experiment with different looks. I used to try to do the same. and I saw I could get the hang of it.
–Apart from my mother, my role models were like Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford, Tyra Banks And Paulina Porizkova. Among Indian models, I love Dipti Bhatnagar, Sushmita Sen, Lisa Ray, Sushama Reddy and Milind Soman. Nowadays, I even feel Robbie Mairh and Sumit Patwari have a lot of potential.
-Amongst actors I love, Rekha JI , Rishi Kapoor, Vinod Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan, the late Sridevi Ji and also Ma’am Madhuri Dixit. Music idols, without a doubt, were Michael Jackson, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Richard Marx and also Hemanta Kumar , Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar.
-I was eight years old when I did my first acting stint in a television soap named TALAASH directed by the late and great Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Later, I received a lot of offers for television commercials, soaps and films. But my parents were adamant about me finishing my education. hence focused on being a kid finishing school.
-I was also a part of the drama club in school too. finally in college because of me being plus size I was always rejected for fashion shows. However, during the final year of college, I underwent a dramatic transformation and lost all the weight to finally participate in the fashion show that year. I then went to study acting and dancing with Kishore Namit Kapoor, Shaimak Dakar and Ashley Lobo.
-When I was in Baltimore for the Bengali Film Festival, ace filmmaker Tarun Majumdar noticed me and so went to offer me my first Bengali film. At first, I wasn’t sure but my parents were supportive enough and advised me to take that chance.
-On and off as work came by, I took it up. I went on doing few print advertisements and Indian fashion shows (FASHION SHOW FOR WILLS INDIA FASHION WEEK. AND ALSO FASHION SHOWS FOR INIFD) until finally I costarred in a LOVE LIFE AND SCREW-UPS, a web series with Zeenat Aman. I also began to give my voice for digital content and cartoons.
-I am yet to reach my highest potential as far as being a model and actress. Due to some personal issues, I fell into a lot of despair which severely affected my health. And so I was unable to work for quite some time. No one is really desperate for work but we are all desperate for good work. I hope to achieve the fame and stardom I have always wanted… Fingers crossed!
-The biggest challenge is you are supposed to be extremely thick-skinned. If there are two people to encourage you and push your talent, there are ten others to do just the opposite! And yes, it is mostly a male dominated industry even today. However, I am glad actresses are now carving a niche for themselves, which is a great encouragement to girls worldwide.