‘I was never talented’
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As Manisha Koirala returns to the big screen, she attributes her survival and success in the industry to her directors.
For two years, Manisha Koirala didn't face the arclights. Following Onir's I Am, where she played a Kashmiri girl, and her marriage to Nepali businessman Samrat Dahal in 2010, Koirala had decided to never face the camera again. Instead, painting and writing took up her time. "Man proposes, god disposes," says Koirala with a shrug. "Maybe I was just meant to be an actor. And I love acting. That's the reason I returned," she says, referring to her soon-to-release comeback film, Bhoot Returns. Her failed marriage with Dahal was another reason, but the actress chooses not to talk about it.
Once an actor is out of sight for a considerable time, it isn't easy to return to the silver screen. What worked in Koirala's favour was that Ram Gopal Varma had the script ready for Bhoot Returns, which is a sequel to his 2003-hit Bhoot. "I hate watching horror films. So when Ramu narrated the script, I was spooked out, but also loved the story. After that it didn't take him much to convince me," she says. The film's shoot made the actress realise the fun she was missing out on. "I left Bollywood thinking I was done with it. But I realised my soul was still here," she says with a smile.
After Bhoot Returns, she hopes that her other film, Deepti Naval-directed Do Paise Ki Dhoop, Chaar Aane Ki Baarish, sees the light of day. "It has been over two years since I shot for it. It is one of my finest performances. But what is the point of making a film, when nobody sees it?" she quips.
Koirala's rise to stardom in the '90s was as meteoric as her fall from the top position during the last decade. One of Bollywood's most unconventional actresses, Koirala's success was as much hers as her filmmakers — Mani Ratnam, Subhash Ghai, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Sanjay Leela Bhansali — she worked with. After her "angelic looks" grabbed the industry's attention with Saudagar (1991), Koirala was also appreciated in Chopra's 1942 - A Love Story (1994).