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Verve People
November 08, 2016

Actress Priyanka Bose on Her Role In Lion

Text by Tanisha Choudhury

The actress who is slowly carving a niche for herself with her unconventional choices talks about her work…

The actress, model and producer started with smaller roles in Bollywood films, then went on to play the lead in the Italian arthouse film Gangor, directed by Italo Spinelli. Since then, a large part of her body of work in theatre and films has been defined by her portrayal of strong women — from Gulaab Gang to the Nirbhaya play, performed around the world. Her newest role is in Lion, the film which also stars Rooney Mara and Nicole Kidman and in which she plays Dev Patel’s long-lost birth mother. After it’s premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this year, the film has been generating considerable Oscar buzz. Just before its November 25th worldwide release, we sat down with Priyanka Bose for a chat…

On choosing strong female characters…
“I have had some strong female role models, but I certainly was not the prototype and had no desire to be. I was hopeful for projects that would allow my individualistic voice to shine through. But sometimes, to find your own voice, one has to go through a lot of rejection. I had to be patient. I am not very happy with some of my past work, but I was happy to be working and learning my craft. And now I can safely say that I have reached a stage where I know my place better and where I can add value to it.”

On bagging the role in Lion
Lion was such an experience. The role came to me through casting director Tess Joseph who put me on tape. Then one meeting with Garth Davis got me the role.”

On working with Dev Patel, Rooney Mara and Nicole Kidman…
“Most of my scenes were with Dev Patel, and I had a blast shooting with him. He is amazing to work with. Rooney, Nicole and I have parallel roles too. I met them at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival). They are very generous actors and gracious people.

On playing a grown character’s mother…
“The trajectory of the character is unlike any other. I couldn’t have said no to it. It’s any actor’s dream role to get an arc like this. I had to experience it for myself.
The way the character was etched out by Garth Davis (the director) and Luke Davies (the screenwriter) — I was drawn to her immediately. To play this role, I had to draw parallel similarities from my own experiences of love, loss and despair.”

On the Toronto International Film Festival…
“It’s quite a cool festival where everything about the business of cinema and the love of it is celebrated. It was my first time, so I soaked it all in.”

On the approach to cinema in different countries…
“Cinema is cinema. Wherever it is, a set has a certain decorum, whether here or abroad. The politics can also be the same. The only thing is the story really, and what process the team is following. Work ethic varies. Also, on Indian sets each camera may come with ten people. There are too many people on set sometimes, but then we are a huge population.”

On being the face of eco-conscious labels like NorBlack NorWhite and Anavila…
“I love these labels because they practice ethical fashion and because of their love for handlooms. While NorBlack NorWhite is an eclectic mix of cultures and colours, Anavila is more structured, and takes me back to the sari, and the stories of handloom. Their invigorating muted textures fascinate me. So between them, these labels offer best of both worlds really.”

Your first brush with a sari…
“My first memory would be when I was 8 years old, in Kolkata. We would all get out on the streets, a day before Holi, wearing orange or yellow coloured saris as those were the colours of spring. Wearing marigold malas around our necks, walking around singing Bengali songs all over the colony. It was wonderful.”

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