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    Taking reference from Dilip Kumar’s tragic roles, Tillotama Shome shares how she worked on Qissa

    TILLOTAMA Shome is thankful that her topless scene was not given more importance than her role in the film Qissa. In the film that opened at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, she plays Kanwar Singh, a girl who is raised like a boy by her father, Umber Singh (Irrfan Khan). “Whether I succeed to win my father’s heart is the story. My first step was to learn Punjabi. I learnt kallari to get the body and had to learn to drive a truck. It was like being in school. I would go for one class after another. Initially, it was hugely intimating, but seven months of guidance helped. In fact, director Anup Singh helped me a lot and asked me to watch Dilip Kumar’s Aan and Tarana to understand how he played a tragic hero, but covered it with a smile. It was the smile that I had to learn,” says the 35-year-old, who received critical acclaim for her acting in Qissa.

    Facing fire
    As an actor, what drives Shome is fear. “As a child, I used to stammer. I challenged myself and today I am an actor. When I think I can’t do a part, I immediately take it up as a challenge,” she says. Well-known for selecting off-beat films, she doesn’t like limiting herself and would love to be part of all kinds of cinema. As for the role that is closest to her heart, she says, “It is an untitled film, shot by Santosh Sivan. I play a sultry siren, a role that I have never done before.”

    On her own
    According to the actress who was first seen in Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding, ‘‘Directors are coming up with bolder subjects and I’m glad independent filmmakers are sticking their neck out. I appreciate directors like Anurag Kashap who are constantly trying to do something different.” While most of the actors are victims of typecasting, Shome says, “It happens everywhere, in different degrees. I am glad my co-star, Irrfan Khan, has risen above that.”

    Qissa is scheduled to release on February 20.

     Mrinalini Sundar

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