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In a happy place
Amrita Prasad | Thursday, 16 March 2017 AT 09:32 PM IST
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In conversation with danseuse and yesteryear actress, Meenakshi Seshadri, who was in the city, for a dance project

Back in 1993, when feminism was not such a mainstream term, Meenakshi Seshadri created an impact by essaying the role of Damini. The actress, who has also acted in movies like Hero and Ghayal, was known for her classical dance moves. She is trained in four classical dance forms — Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi and Odissi. And, while she has been away from the filmworld for a long time, she continues teaching dance in the US where she relocated after her marriage.

In Pune, to collaborate with Bharatnatyam dancer and lecturer, Parimal Phadke, she chose to talk about her family, dance and career. She, however, refused to share the details about the dance project.

JOURNEY SO FAR....
Meenakshi’s mother was a dance teacher and she was the one who initiated the actress in the dance form. “I got gradually interested and started doing well in it. I moved to Delhi and got exposed to other dance styles, which I learnt,” says she.

Like dance, other opportunities too fell in her lap. “After completing my Std XII, I thought of participating in a beauty contest just for fun and I was crowned Miss India! Winning the crown fetched me a lot of publicity. I wasn’t looking for a career in movies, but thespian Manoj Kumar had made up his mind to cast me in his Painter Babu. I didn’t even have to audition for the role!” she explains.

HER LOVE FOR DANCE
As said earlier, the actress is trained in four dance forms. But she doesn’t like to mix styles. “I am open to fusion where one can perform a classical dance style to a contemporary form of music. Fusion for me is not mixing dance forms together,” says Meenakshi.  

Her training in dance also prepared Meenakshi for acting. However, if she could go back in time, there are two things she would like to rectify about the influence of classical dance on her. “Firstly, because I performed on a stage and in front of a large audience, my expressions were loud. This was visible in my acting too. It also affected the way I danced. If you see my dances in films and compare them with those of other actresses, you’ll see they are not so glamorous and provocative. My dance was more classical and neat. That’s not the kind of dancing people want to see a Bollywood heroine doing,” she clarifies.

AWAY FROM THE GLAMOUR INDUSTRY
After her 15-year-long career in Bollywood, the actress felt that she was ready to settle down with the right man. “So, when I met Harish Mysore in New York, I had two choices — to marry him and move to the US, or not marry him and continue to live in India. I chose to marry him.”

The dancer confesses that she is not good at managing household tasks and nor is she a good cook. “My children keep telling me how they wish I were a good cook. But being a mom is fun. My daughter has joined college and my son is in 8th grade. I am curious how will their life turn out. I don’t really think of myself now,” she adds.

FILMS AND FEMINISM
Being away from the film industry, Meenakshi misses the creative process of filmmaking. “So many people come together to make one movie. Even if one person doesn’t do his/her work properly, the entire process goes haywire. I miss being away from that creative process. But otherwise I’m quite okay. I am open to getting back to films once my son is in college because it is tough for me to leave him there and come to India,” says the actress.   

She also shares her thoughts on feminism, which has gained currency in today’s cinema. Says Meenakshi, “There were many films in the past where the actresses essayed strong, fearless and independent women. Before Damini, I did a film called Swati which spoke about feminism and showcased women as strong and independent. It was totally a female-oriented role and I could identify with that. So when Damini came my way, I appreciated her character who would do what is right, even if meant going against her family and compromising her personal life. A lot of love and dedication went into making Damini, which is why the result was so good — a very realistic, critically acclaimed film which turned out to be a success too.”

The author can be followed on Twitter @amu_prasad
 
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