Don`t want to reduce myself to categories: Tillotama Shome

IANS| Updated: Nov 07, 2013, 14:49 PM IST

Abu Dhabi: Be it a non-Bollywood or a crossover actor tag, Tillotama Shome wants to steer clear of labels and says she`d rather take "unconscious" calls that help her "think global and act local" in her film career.

"I don`t want to live my life in categories. There may be a perception of me being a non-Bollywood actor, but that`s not my perception of myself," Tillotama, who won a best actress award for Punjabi movie "Qissa" at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival (ADFF), told IANS here.

"I have no problem being a Bollywood, international, crossover or whatever actress...those are labels. I don`t want to reduce myself into categories. As a performer, you can only think globally and act locally," she added.

That`s one example she sets with "Qissa", where her performance as a girl who is raised as a boy won her accolades as the best actress in ADFF`s New Horizons Competition of the fest.

Tillotama was delighted with the honour.

The Bengali actress, who was an English Literature student from Delhi`s Lady Shriram College, pursued a masters programme in educational theatre at New York University. Not surprisingly, her choice of films has always been offbeat: Mira Nair`s `Monsoon Wedding`, Quashik Mukherjee`s `Tasher Desh` and Dibakar Banerjee`s `Shanghai`, along with various short films.

Even 12 years after featuring as a maid named Alice in "Monsoon Wedding", Tillotama finds it hard to rid herself of that image. Not that she has a problem with it, but she is hoping that "Qissa" sets a new image of her and creates a new remembrance of her talent in the minds of audiences.

"There were points when I felt that I did `Monsoon Wedding` over 10 years back and there is work that I did after that and of which I am very happy about, but I agree my work didn`t get the kind of exposure it deserved. No one has seen it.

"But I do feel I have grown up as an actor. `Monsoon Wedding` is a very beautiful memory and beginnings are always important. But someone said to me, `After `Qissa`, you will be remembered for this, not `Monsoon Wedding``. That was very heartening for me," she said.

Her choice of films are not conscious calls for Tillotama, who said: "I think I`m living in the realm of the unconscious and all the choices I have made consciously (so far) have made me unhappy. This is because I think our consciousness is so polluted with the whole idea of success."

What is it then that she looks for in a role?

"It`s just that whatever role I play, it has to raise questions for me. It has to be something that I don`t know because if I know it, then what`s the point of doing it?" she asked.

What questions did `Qissa` raise?

"The biggest thing in `Qissa` was the exploration of gender. There is a masculine and feminine gender in society. For me, this film was creating a bridge between the two. The film was exploring the infinite possibilities of what it is to be human rather than what it is to be a man or a woman. As an actor, it was fascinating to explore that," she said.

`Qissa`, directed by Anup Singh, also features Irrfan Khan, Tisca Chopra and Rasika Duggal in key roles.