Bollywood fuels me, Kolkata inspires me, says actress Ekavali Khanna

Ekavali Khanna with the best actor award in Ottawa
Ekavali Khanna with the best actor award in Ottawa.

TORONTO: Actress Ekavali Khanna, who won the best actor’s award for her role of quiet but firm housewife Kiran Batra in Angrezi Mein Kehte Hain at the just concluded Ottawa Indian Film Festival Awards, says she was overwhelmed by the response to the film.

Set in Varanasi, the film depicts how romance between middle-aged Indian couple takes a back seat after they have children. But Kiran Batra, played by Ekavali, doesn’t think so, leading her to separate from her husband Yashwant Batra (Sanjay Mishra).

Angrezi Mein Kehnte Hain was the closing film at the Ottawa festival.

“People were crying as they were very moved by the scenes in the film. I am always for roles that allow me to reinvent myself and this film offered me a great opportunity,’’ says the Kolkata actress who was in the Canadian capital.

“Like my all previous films, Angrezi Mein Kehte Hain was another learning curve for me. Harish Vyas is a wonderful director. He is an easy-going gentleman who allowed the actors all the freedom,’’ she says.

Ekavali feels that no other place would have done justice to Angrezi Mein Kehte Hain than Varanasi.

“Actually, Faroukh (cinematography) has used Varanasi as another character in the film. The city has a mystical quality to it and the frames are so rich..Varanasi blends in so nicely as a character in this film. I have a huge fascination for Gulzar saab’s works and this film has the flavour that you find in his films,’’ says Ekavali.

Narrating her experience of working with Sanjay Mishra, Ekavali says, “His comic sense is phenomenal. Sanjay is a warm and kind person and I learnt a lot from him. Four us were together in Varanasi and our bonding is reflected in the film.’’

The 38-year-old actress says she is open to any roles if the film is content-driven. “What I want to be part of, is meaningful cinema. I want to remembered for meaningful roles. I have played the roles of older and younger roles because diverse characters offer you the possibilities to explore and become someone else. I love that.’’

Ekavali says she is also open to glamourous – and even dark – roles. “So long as I can explore my craft, I am all for it. I live away from Bollywood and I have an honest approach to my work.’’

Has she ever thought about moving to Bollywood?

“Bollywood fuels my passion for cinema, but Kolkata inspires me. Bombay is very hectic and being away from Bollywood helps me because I am not someone running after money and fame. I just want to make the experience memorable for me and my audiences. Moreover, I am a single mother in my late 30s and I also have to be with my children.’’

She says she excited about the advent of new independent filmmakers making meaningful films. “Indian cinema  is going through a change. It is maturing because these new-age filmmakers are doing different kind of films. That’s a very positive thing.’’

Ekavali, whose father is Punjabi, says she speaks Punjabi well and is not averse to roles in Punjabi cinema.

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