Talk about choppy beginnings. Geetanjali Thapa’s first Hindi film Tina Ki Chaabi (2010) with Ranvir Shorey never saw the light of day. But the brave Sikkimese girl didn’t lose hope. She doubled her efforts and the result was a role in ID (2012) directed by Kamal KM, which got her two international awards for best actress — at the Los Angeles Film Festival and the Madrid Film Festival.
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She did another festival film, Monsoon Shootout, directed by Amit Kumar and co-starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Tannishtha Chaterjee. She played a doctor in this underworld drama, which got rave reviews at the Cannes film festival. At this juncture she met Malayalam filmmaker Geetu Mohandas, who signed her up for the Hindi film Liar’s Dice (2013). The film bagged the National Award for Best Cinematography for Rajeev Ravi and won her the Best Actress Award. It’s also India’s official entry for the 87th Academy Awards. Geetanjali says fate led her towards being an actor and that she had no inclination towards it while growing up. “After schooling in Sikkim, I went to Kolkata to study English literature.
There, I started getting modeling assignments, which continued when I moved to Delhi for further studies. Out of the blue, I got a call to audition for this film called Tina Ki Chaabi in 2009.” She rues that the film got shelved. “I was depressed for a while but got over it. I came back to Mumbai in 2012 to give acting another go and luckily landed better projects.”
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The National Award served as a balm for the trials she had faced earlier and the Oscar nod was the icing on the cake. “Geetu Mohandas, my director, called to inform me and it blew my mind. I called to share the news with my parents in Sikkim. They were elated too.” Her father runs a business and mom is a housewife. She says in the North East people are more clued in to Korean soap operas than Hindi films and serials.
“We do watch Indian content but we aren’t big fans.” She hasn’t seen showbiz’s ugly side so far. “I met some nice people. Like Sanjeev Sharma, the director of Saat Uchakkey, has become a dear friend. He gave me a list of casting directors I could meet. Someone introduced me to casting director Mukesh Chhabra. That’s how I landed Kamal KM’s ID.” She plays a mother in Liar’s Dice, as also in her upcoming drama, Tigers, co-starring Emraan Hashmi and directed by Academy Award winning director Danis Tanovic of No Man’s Land fame. She has no qualms about doing such roles despite being so young. “Why should I say no to a character just because it’s a mother’s role? When Geetu narrated the story of Liar’s Dice, I got goose bumps and immediately said yes.” She adds, “Who would say no to Danis? Tomorrow, I wouldn’t hesitate to kiss on screen if so required.
I’m game for doing anything for the betterment of the film within the limits of decency.” We often hear of people from the North-East getting mistaken for being Chinese and facing discrimination. She says one can’t educate the masses overnight. “People aren’t aware of our side of the country. We too make some good films. They do well regionally. Some even make it at the festivals.
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Like Jahnu Barua is an acclaimed filmmaker from the North-East who is globally well-known. We need to educate the masses about such films, such filmmakers across the country.” She says she doesn’t want to restrict herself to one genre or to one region. “I might do a Malayalam film if the subject sounds right. I want to work with diverse people and subjects in order to grow as an actor.”