Articulate, humble and a sought-after actress of her time, Manisha Koirala continues to inspire and charm. She was the chief guest for the fourth edition of Embassy Office Parks’ annual event celebrating International Women’s Day at Hilton, Embassy Golf Links on Wednesday. The event celebrated women leaders and acknowledged female corporate occupiers at their business parks.
An advocate of cancer awareness and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Goodwill Ambassador for Nepal, Manisha is known for her acting prowess in movies like ‘1942: A Love Story’, ‘Khamoshi: The Musical’, ‘Dil Se’, ‘Lajja’ and most recently ‘Lust Stories’ and ‘Sanju’. She has also co-authored the book ‘Healed’, which speaks about her battle against ovarian cancer.
In a chat with Metrolife, Manisha spoke about her life after cancer and making a comeback in the movie industry.
After being diagnosed with cancer, how did your life change?
The way I look at life, understand it and wish to live my life changed. Now, I love life more and I’m grateful for every opportunity I get. I love with openness and tend to forgive quickly. I want to grab life with both arms and live life to the fullest.
Looking back, how do you think you got through that phase. Who was by your side?
My family was there with me throughout. Seeing them suffer during my time of pain, made me realise how much they love and value me. Things became very clear to me then. I also started noticing how my well-wishers and fans reached out to me through social media and emails with their prayers and blessings. I realised their affection for me and saw the side of humanity that encourages a patient to never give up.
How was it coming back to the movie industry with two very promising roles in ‘Sanju’ and ‘Lust Stories’?
It felt wonderful to be given that opportunity. When I was sick, I had a fear that I will be forgotten as an actor, given that I was away from the silver screen for a long time. But fortunately, when I was in Nepal, directors Rajkumar Hirani and Dibakar Banerjee and casting director Mukesh Chhabra contacted me for the respective movies. I realised that I wasn’t forgotten (laughs).
What made you agree to work in ‘Lust Stories’?
Dibakar Banerjee is a new-age director. He is quirky and creative. I had heard about him but haven’t seen his films. After I watched ‘Bombay Talkies’, I knew I was in safe hands. I am an old-school actress, so when he was describing my character, Reena, I couldn’t understand a thing but he knew what he was doing. I loved my character on-screen. That is where the brilliance of a director lies.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
To remember what we have been through over centuries and what it has taken for us to be where we are today. There are so many brave women who have spoken and fought for their rights. We are known as life-givers yet we are suppressed. It is a celebration of womanhood and being proud of who we are.
What are some of the issues related to women that still need to be addressed?
There are many of them. I think we have just scratched the surface while speaking about concepts like equal pay, respect at our jobs and sexual harassment. But this needs to continue; only then we can solve these problems. We have a long way to go. One of the ways in which we can do is to give education and financial independence to women.