Actor Geetanjali Thapa made her debut with the critically acclaimed I.D. (2012) directed by Kamal K.M. The film which shared Thapa in the lead was feted at several international festivals including International Film Festival of Kerala, 2012 and Los Angeles Film Festival, 2013 where the film won the NETPAC Award (for the Best Asian Film) and Jury Prize for an Outstanding Performance (by Geetanjali Thapa). She followed this up with director Geethu Mohandas’ Liar’s Dice which won Thapa a National Award for Best Actress (Silver Lotus).
Since then she has appeared in a variety of critically acclaimed shorts and features such as Anurag Kashyap’s That Day After Everyday and Vikramaditya Motwane’s Trapped. The actor’s latest release Kuch Bheege Alfaaz hit the screens today. Directed by Onir, the film is a romantic drama which revolves around Archi or Archana (Geetanjali Thapa) as she is fondly called in the film. She makes a living creating internet memes and is addicted to a late-night radio show that is hosted by RJ Alfaz (debutant Zain Khan Durrani). The show sees RJ Alfaz narrating tales of love and longing in a very poetic or a shayarana style to be precise. A chance meeting and a host of WhatsApp messages lead them to meeting and eventually falling for each other. However, the path to their unison is not as easy as it seems.
Personally, the film is also special since it also marks the writing debut of Abhishek Chatterjee, a close friend and a fellow author of Madaboutmoviez.
We recently caught up with the talented Ms. Thapa and spoke to her about the film, her journey as an actor and much more. Republished below are excerpts from the same.
How did you end up playing the lead role in Kuch Bheege Alfaaz and prepare for the same?
Onir sent me the script which I read and loved it. Later we met to discuss the script after which it soon got greenlit by him. I have tried to understand the script and my character from Onir’s perspective like how he saw Archie, the film and the various relationships my character has in the course of the film. I have always liked Onir’s work and was keen to work with him. I am glad that it’s finally happened.
Despite the character suffering from leucoderma, the film doesn’t make an issue out of it and deals with the same in a rather subtle and mature way. How did you go about understanding the character and ensure that her pathos is depicted convincingly? How did you work with Onir and scriptwriter Abhishek Chatterjee on preparing for the same?
It was a conscious decision we all took to not make her appear sympathetic and show that she is bogged down by this issue. The character is also inspired by an acquaintance of Abhishek who was suffering from leukoderma and he told me about her relationships and life in general. When I heard her story, I could relate a lot to her as a person and the dilemmas and issues she underwent through. I also realized that she is just another woman like me and not someone who lives in a completely different world. And we undergo similar things and experiences like having crushes, falling in and out of love. These understandings helped my performance a lot.
At a time, when it is de rigeur for actors to be omnipresent on social media, your absence from the same is refreshing yet surprising. Considering the push it gives to an actor’s brand equity and popularity, don’t you think your absence from the same could prove to be a deterrent for you?
I agree with that. But somehow it hasn’t really bothered me. I am happy being away from the entire social media space and it just doesn’t excite me. Ideally I should be using it for my professional purposes as it will help me connect with more people and collaborators. But I feel my work should speak for itself. Despite my absence from the social media sphere, I am still getting to work with wonderful filmmakers, good scripts to read and that keeps me going. Someday, I will probably jump onto the bandwagon (laughs).
Its been 6 years since your made your feature debut with I.D and in this period you also clinched a National Award for Liar’s Dice besides working in films that have been critically acclaimed and were festival favourites. How would you sum up journey as an actor till date. What professional goals you have set for yourself in the years to come?
I am very happy in the space I am right now. Of course I would like to do more work and be a part of a lot more great films like I have been till now. I have worked with great directors from around the world such as Goran Paskaljević (director of Devbhoomi). Thanks to my work, I get to travel all and watch some great films from around the world and this is something which I never thought I may be able to do. I am grateful for the kind of exposure I have got and I hope to keep doing films that more people will like and be able to connect with.
Almost all the films in your repertoire do not belong to the bracket of the typical ‘mainstream cinema’. Was it always a conscious decision on your part to not be a part of such films or was it purely coincidental? Will we soon see you acting in a big budget film?
It was never a conscious decision to not be a part of ‘mainstream’ films. Things just happened to have worked out like that. But I am open to do all kinds of formats be it regional films, shorts, feature films etc. It’s just a coincidence that the films I have done till date do not fall in the mainstream category. Think of it, won’t it be a nice challenge to do a mainstream film. Imagine I wake up one morning knowing that I have to do a song and dance sequence today, it will be such fun… right? To be honest, I am absolutely open to it.
What are your upcoming projects?
I am doing a film called Painting Life which is directed by the renowned filmmaker Dr. Bijukumar. The film’s post production is currently going on and it should hopefully be out soon. I am also in talks for a couple of other projects, so lets see how things turn out. My earlier film Devbhoomi is also out on Amazon Prime. But as of now I am just excited and eager to see how people react to Kuch Bheege Alfaaz.