Ayesha Dharker is on a comeback trail, and independent films are on the top of her agenda. “My heart will always be with them. I have more in common with younger filmmakers who are interested in cinema that is more global in its appeal,” she reasons.
Dharker, who was last seen in the critically acclaimed Loins of Punjab Presents (2007), has been occupied with prestigious projects in the West; be it theatre, TV, radio, documentaries or short films. While currently she is high on the success of her TV show The Indian Doctor, her performance as Shahrazad in the Royal Shakespeare Company production, Arabian Nights, has been well received.
Closer home, Dharker is hoping for a theatrical revolution of sorts to take place. She feels that like in other countries, state funding and subsidising in India too, could make a big difference to the theatre scene. “My dream is to perform at the Opera House in Mumbai when it is restored. I can’t stop myself from walking around the city, looking at venues and thinking of doing plays there,” she laments.
Apart from that Dharker also wants to see independent filmmakers from India making it big in Hollwood. And considering so many Indian companies now have a stake in the studios there, the move will only be expected. “There is an interesting hybrid going on with Bollywood and Hollywood. They also emphasise on stars as the chief way to make money, so big, commercial cinema will do just fine. What would be interesting is to see independent directors get funds and cast actors from all over the world,” she asserts.
Fascinated by the increasing amount of interest the West is showing in Indian filmmakers, she says, “I met Jim Broadbent (Moulin Rouge, Iris) in an elevator. He was trying to pronounce Farhan Akhtar’s name and asked me what I thought of his work. It was pretty cool,” she recalls. Meanwhile, eagerly awaiting her return to the city, Dharker reveals her obsession with ‘finding pieces of her lost city’. “It’s become a very different place from what it was when I was growing up. I look for places like Paradise and Café Mondegar where you’ll still find Mario Miranda’s drawings on the wall, Kayani and Bastani’s questionable cakes and bun maska. I would love to do a film that goes to those places, or play characters in the city as it is now.”