Nandita Om Puri Reveals How She Landed A Pivotal Role In Her Debut Film 'Yes Papa'

Nandita Om Puri Reveals How She Landed A Pivotal Role In Her Debut Film 'Yes Papa'

Nandita Puri, writer and wife of the late actor Om Puri, is all set for a new beginning

Dinesh RahejaUpdated: Wednesday, March 20, 2024, 02:08 PM IST
article-image
Nandita Puri |

The invite for a trial show of Yes Papa caught my eye because its cast included Nandita Puri, the writer-wife of the late Om Puri. Intrigued by Nandita's foray into acting, we meet Nandita who candidly reveals how she was discovered as an actress, her struggles while performing and her plans for continuing Om's legacy.

Excerpts from the interview:

Did you audition for a role in Yes Papa?

I had neither auditioned nor applied for the role. I am friendly with director Saif Hyder Hasan and his family, and I had seen his play with Deepti Naval and Shekhar Suman on Sahir Ludhianvi and Amrita Pritam and another play with Zeenat Aman and Arif Zakaria playing Baa and Gandhi. One day, Saif called and said he was making a film on child incest called Yes Papa and he wanted me to hear the story because he would like the Om Puri Foundation to be the NGO partner. The story was different and bold, and I loved it. Saif said he had named the main character's wife, Mrs Nandita Ghoshal, after me. Next, he added, ‘I want you to play Mrs Ghoshal.’ I exclaimed, ‘What! But I have never acted before. I have no training in acting apart from school plays.’ He replied, ‘There's always a first time.’

Did being Om’s wife prepare you for acting?

All my preparations for this acting role were done by observing Om over the years -- the way he read his scripts, underlined dialogue and practised lines in detail. He would uncover more layers than the script had. Om would explain to me what a subtext was and how to put jaan into each character. I underlined portions of the script and asked Saif, ‘What do you want me to do and how?’ Because Om would ask these exact questions. Being Om Puri’s wife, I don't want people to think I am bad in my acting debut.

Still from Yes Papa

Still from Yes Papa |

Would you have liked to act alongside Om?

Oh, I would have loved to do a film with Om. Not as a greenhorn but maybe after a couple of acting assignments. Girish Karnad, Om and I once did a play reading of Tughlaq at the Jaipur Lit Fest. Shabana was supposed to play Tughlaq’s stepmother but her flight was delayed so I stepped in. Om was a fabulous teacher since he was also a speech trainer at Roshan Taneja’s school. He explained to me the enunciation and how the character would talk and I took off and did a decent job. Many other book reads followed.

Do you have a full-fledged role in Yes Papa?

It is a pivotal role. I play a mother who does not listen to her daughter when she cries out for help but instead tries to cover up the skeletons, and things take an ugly turn. I hope women realise that they can take a stronger stance.

Did you experience any difficulty while performing?

I was hesitant to take up the role because my Hindi is pathetic. Bengali words do not have genders so when I got married I would merrily say things like ‘Om Puri so rahee hai’. My hands turned cold when I had to enact a 10-12 sentences-long dialogue in shuddh Hindi in a court scene. I thought I would have to give at least 30 takes. But Saif asked me to relax. He said, “Just say the lines in English sprinkled with some Hindi words and also break into Bengali.” I have great respect for Saif’s direction because otherwise, I would just not have been able to deliver.”

Is this the beginning of a new career?

I never wanted to act ... Otherwise, I would have told Om. When I was offered the role, I was unsure till my son Ishaan said ‘Why not?’ Now I'm not actively looking out for work but given the occasional small role, I don't mind.

What do you think would have been Om’s response to your performance?

He would have been very amused and thrilled. He was always encouraging everyone

What’s next?

I'm working on my next book. A writer’s gym is reading so I am reading a lot. I spend more time on the Om Puri Foundation. Currently, we are working on the Om Puri collective which is a two-day moving festival which will go to cities all over India and showcase films, theatre, music, art and craft.

Ishaan wants to act. What advice would you give him as an actor?

I miss Om all the more now. He would have been such a great tutor and mentor to Ishaan. I don't have the expertise that Om would have had as an actor and as a part of this industry from being a struggler to making a name internationally. I know it's a huge burden for an actor to have Om Puri as your father but I have told Ishaan that you cannot and should not be another Om Puri. You are capable of finding your USP and proving yourself as Ishaan Puri.

RECENT STORIES

Tarot Card Readings: Here’s What The Cards Suggest For The Period May 25 to May 31 For All Zodiac...

Tarot Card Readings: Here’s What The Cards Suggest For The Period May 25 to May 31 For All Zodiac...

Bloodstone Secrets: How This Gemstone Can Boost Your Health And Bring Harmony To Your Life

Bloodstone Secrets: How This Gemstone Can Boost Your Health And Bring Harmony To Your Life

Conscious Vaastu: Unlock The Mysteries And Miracles Of Mother Earth

Conscious Vaastu: Unlock The Mysteries And Miracles Of Mother Earth

Health Benefits Of Propolis Or Bee Glue You Should Know

Health Benefits Of Propolis Or Bee Glue You Should Know

Navigating Bengali Detective Fiction In The Changing Times

Navigating Bengali Detective Fiction In The Changing Times