The road has been long and at times turbulent for Tisca Chopra, but each ebb and flow has resulted in her reaching new personal and professional growth.
Tisca grew up in Kabul, Afghanistan where her father was the Principal of the India International School. While being a good student, she began her interest in acting at a young age and was in every school play. She recounts her first role as playing baby Lord Krishna at the age of two. Coming from a family of educators and writes, her natural choice of a profession would have been to teach or write. In fact, her dad wanted her to become a war reporter like Christiane Amanpour. However, life has its own plan. She studied marketing and advertising at The Xavier’s College in Mumbai where her classes were in the evenings, which led her days to be free. “I started to model to kill time and make a bit of pocket money. That became huge. I did ads for all the leading brands and that got me film offers. I kept turning them down because I could not see myself as an actor. Then one day I said what the hell….and that is how films happened.”
“Somewhere along the way I fell in love with acting. It is a real joy for me, I am happiest when acting.” Not many know that before getting married to Air India pilot Sanjay Chopra, Tisca was called Priya Arora and she ventured into Bollywood with the same name. The actress forayed into Bollywood in 1993 with box office dud Platform. It was followed by other flops like 15th August, Baali Umar Ko Salaam and Taqdeerwala. When she did not get her due in Bollywood, Tisca took a sabbatical from the big screen during which she was involved with theatre and did plays like Mahatma v/s Gandhi, Salesman Ramlal and Inshah Allah before shifting to TV with Balaji Telefilms’ Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii that gave her recognition. Later she was seen in TV soaps like Astitva – Ek Prem Kahani and Sarrkkar: Risshton Ki Ankahi Kahani. She was also involved in a consumer grievances show on TV called Main Hoon Na.
Recently she came into the limelight with Taare Zameen Par for which she received a nomination in the best actor in a supporting role (female) category at the 53rd annual Filmfare Awards. The actress, who played Darsheel Safary’s harried mother, is more keen on working with known directors than actors. “More than the actors, I want to work with different directors like Mani Ratnam, Rajkumar Hirani, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Yash Chopra, Ashutosh Gowariker and Rakesh Roshan,” she said.
Her future projects include a role in Nandita Das’s film ‘In Such Times.’ With a beautiful script and has a fabulous ensemble cast, her role is complex and very different from TZP. “It is a little early to speak about the film, but what I can say is that it will have several fabulous performances and will leave a mark. I am very impressed with Nandita; she is a fine director and a really good person.”
Tisca affirms that she has fallen in love with her work at hand, but in the same token would like to play some of the roles Nargis Dutt did, like in ‘Raat Aur Din’ or Sharmila Tagore’s role in ‘Amar Prem’. Taare Zameen Par was a blockbuster and highlighted a socially relevant subject. “People were reminded of their childhood and how those precious years must not be spoiled by the burden of adult expectations. I think the film speaks about this beyond all else. A lot of change is going to be seen in a lot of hearts, I hope.”
As my teacher Dr. Daisaku Ikeda says “True education represents the most effective means of fostering the positive potential inherent in all people: self-restraint, empathy for others and the unique personality and character of each person. To do this, education must be a personal, even spiritual encounter and interaction between human beings, between teacher and learner.”
Tisca would like to see Indian cinema rising to the International level. “Iranian and Chinese films with subtitles are watched by movie buffs worldwide. I’d like to see that happen with our films. I hope to be part of that genre of movies.” She feels Hindi cinema is probably at its most exciting time. “We have a whole generation of globally exposed Indians wanting to share the Indian experience with the world. I am particularly keen to see us making our mark on world cinema outside the Indian Diaspora. I hope to be able to do world cinema; work with directors from Iran and China and the US.”