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‘Fight for your life’: Lisa Ray

Having made her presence felt in the international circuit, actor Lisa Ray will now be seen in Ishq Forever with Javed Jaffery. Remembered for her performance of a widow in Water, the cancer survivor has been consistently engaged in spreading awareness about the disease.Busy working in Top Chef Canada and Patch Town and preparing for a horror film Zahhak with Huma Qureshi, Lisa talks about the changing role of female actors in Hindi films and her fight with cancer.

Edited excerpts:

On playing a RAW agent

I underwent rigorous physical training to develop the body language of the character of Naina, a divorced and a Research and Analysis Wing agent who meets her ex-husband (Javed Jaffery), who is also an agent in the same case. As I am a cancer survivor I think losing five kilograms and learning martial arts is not as tough as fighting death. Doing this kind of role at the age of 43 makes me more confident and less self-conscious.

Lisa Ray

On working with Javed Jaffery

Javed is one of the most talented actors who has not got a proper chance to showcase what he actually is. He kept me in stitches off the camera even though his role was that of a serious officer and we enjoyed a lot shooting in Cape Town. The strongest part of him is his versatility and the sense of humour which keeps you involved.

On changes in audience taste

I think the industry has become much more professional. There are lot of changes like earlier we used to have no script, production design and only the lead actor was the concern of the producer but now we have evolved. Now there are important positions like casting director, responsible for finding the right actor been given their due, which was neglected earlier. Yes, the audiences have matured as they are accepting films with good stories.

On Indian films and actors making their presence felt in international circuit

This is a good time as a lot of global standard films are coming out of India garnering praise from worldwide audiences. I believe that Indian cinema is beyond Bollywood and we should not categorise it in language frames and promote all cinema produced in India. And we have seen Chinese actors doing well in international films and now it is India’s time to crossover and Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra are good examples to show that we are ready for the global audience.

A good cinema is a good cinema irrespective of the region or language it is from. Indian actors should not be seen as doing international projects but as contributing to world cinema. Platforms like Netflix and YouTube has extended the viewership and audience can choose what they want to see.

On audience accepting older female actors in lead roles

Earlier actresses were afraid to share to their age and when they used to touch 30, they were supposed to stop working or play mother’s role. But a lot has been changing and audience are not bothered because of age or marital status and they just want to see something good. One example is Kajol who appeared in ‘Dilwale’ and audience loved it which shows even if you are married and have children, you can continue doing your work if the work is genuine.

On the fight against cancer

We have to become aware that treatment is expensive and we have to start planning before something goes wrong. In India there is need to inculcate in our mindset that we should plan in advance and take responsibility for ourselves.

As I have worked extensively in this field, I must say that there are lot of charities, outreach programs and non-government organisation working for those who cannot afford treatment.

On celebrities being used by pharma companies

As far as I am concerned, I have not endorsed any pharmaceutical company or procedure and I have my own issues with them as I am also undergoing medications which are very costly.

But situation in India is quite good as the Supreme Court is harsh against these pharmaceutical companies and we have option of generic drugs which makes the medication cheaper.