Dubai burgeoning with talent, says Indian actress

DUBAI - Looking more like a 20 year-old than a mother of two, renowned Indian actress Lillete Dubey, has won as many accolades for her movie roles.

By Prerna Suri

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Published: Sun 4 Apr 2004, 11:58 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 12:55 PM

In town recently for the staging of an English play, Lillete has carved a neat little niche for herself in Bollywood, where formulaic movies are churned out by the dozen and experimentation is limited.

"I don't think Indian cinema has changed drastically since the last few years, as 'masala' movies which would do well at the box office are still favoured over genuine experimental movies. However, the encouraging fact is that there is an alternative cinema developing which is different from commercial cinema and which suits the sensibilities of certain audiences," said the actress.

Having conducted a workshop for aspiring actors in Dubai recently, Lillete was excited at the growing pool of talent available in Dubai which she said was 'waiting to be tapped upon' and felt that a local theatre movement was fast sprouting up. "I'm a firm believer that everyone can act and 95 per cent of the time, we all act at one level or another. I'm also quite impressed by the talent available here as we have a very enthusiastic set of actors who can do wonders if they pursue their craft. Dubai is fast becoming a hub of cultural activities, where a lot of plays from the West as well as the East are coming together to form a unique melting point of cultures," she said.

Having received critical acclaim for her role as a harassed Punjabi mother preparing for her daughter's wedding in Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding, and the recent Karan Johar potboiler, Kal Ho Na Ho, Lillete feels that Indian cinema is yet to offer meaningful roles to middle aged women.

"Bollywood has still not come to that stage where Susan Sarandon or Meryl Streep kind of roles are offered to middle aged actresses. But the situation is now improving with a lot of new directors making films for niche audiences rather than making one film, which will appeal to all. This is the main problem. India has so many faces with many different voices and sensibilities, which cannot possibly be showcased through one movie, Directors need to experiment far more which will push the industry to try more novel ideas."

Having graduated from the prestigious Lady Shri Ram College for Women in New Delhi, Lillete's acting career has spanned nearly 30 years. Delighted with the efforts of local theatre groups, such as Rangmanch, which serve as a platform to bring quality theatrical productions to Dubai, Lillete said that the city is cultivating a loyal theatre going audience but more can be done to promote a local movement.

"It's great that Dubai is playing host to a lot of plays for all audiences, but there is a need to develop a movement organically here. From different places you have different voices emerging, all of which are universal but which are pertaining to that particular place. Home grown theatre can give people a chance to develop their own peculiar voice and which would be far more relevant to this part of the world," she said.

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