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Updated by Rajashri Venkatesh on May 14, 2016
Headline for The Best Of Nandita Das
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The Best Of Nandita Das

Nandita Das - an inspiring actress/director who has achieved so much at such a young age! Her movies have been nominated in the top film festivals and has won her numerous of national and international awards. Not only was she a jury member at the Cannes Film Festival, 2005 but she has also been awarded the Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the Government of France for her work. Here is a list of such amazing movies acted or directed by her. Feel free to add your favourites.

Fire, 1996

Written and directed by Deepa Mehta, Fire (1996) is the story of two Indian sisters-in-law living in traditional marriages who fall in love with each other. Although it won numerous film festival awards when it was screened in the West, it was met with violent protests in India and has yet to be widely screened in that country. The film opens with the arranged marriage of beautiful young Sita (Nandita Das) to Jatin, the younger brother of Ashok, who is married to Radha (Shabana Azmi), a woman who has long accepted the duties imposed on her by her traditional role as wife.

Bawandar, 2000

BAWANDAR is based on a true story. Sanwari (Nandita Das) is the wife of rickshaw-puller Sohan (Raghuvir Yadav) and a mother to two kids. Sanwari is approached by 'Saathin' worker Shobha Devi (Deepti Naval) to take up cudgels against the prevalent system of child marriage. Director Jagmohan Mundhra deserves full marks for handling a sensitive story with utmost care and without resorting to clich?gimmicks. The film inspires the viewer to fight against injustice, which is a strong point. Sanwari and her husband, who stands by her throughout the ordeal, are potent characters. Nandita Das delivers a power-packed performance. Only an actress of stature could've carried off this role with aplomb and it must be said to Nandita's credit that she doesn't let you down one bit.

Earth, 1998

'Earth,'' adapted from Bapsi Sidhwa's semi-autobiographical novel ''Cracking India,'' views these events through the eyes of 8-year-old Lenny Sethna (Maia Sethna), the pampered daughter of an affluent Parsi family in Lahore. Lenny's world revolves around her nanny, Shanta (Nandita Das), a beautiful young Hindu woman with several suitors. One is Dil Navaz, the Ice Candy Man, who is a voice of reason and compassion in the movie until the slaughter of his two sisters drives him mad with vengeance. The man Shanta eventually chooses, Hasan (Rahul Khanna), known as the Masseur, is a gentle, handsome Muslim who invents oils made from pearl dust and fish eggs. So deep is his love of Shanta (the two have an exquisite love scene) that he agrees to switch his faith from Muslim to Hindu and take her to safety in India.

Kannathil Muthamittal, 2002

Manirathnam has good experience dealing with human relations against a serious backdrop. In Kannathil Muthamittaal too, he chooses the serious setting of the Sri Lankan conflict but the issue set against it - adoption and a girl's search for her roots - is serious too. Amudha(Keerthana) is the eldest daughter of Thiruchelvan(Madhavan), an engineer and writer, and Indra(Simran), a TV personality. With loving parents, an affectionate grandfather, two younger brothers and lots of friends at school, her life is complete. But on her ninth birthday, it all comes crashing down when Amudha learns that she was adopted by Thiru and Indra. Her mother Shyama(Nandita Das), whose husband Dileepan(Chakravarthy) had gone to join the Sri Lankan war, had returned home after the delivering her at a Red Cross camp in Rameswaram and her whereabouts are now unknown. Amudha wants to meet her and Thiru and Indra take her to Sri Lanka where a friend Wikramasinghe(Prakashraj) helps them search for Shyama.

Azhagi, 2002

The storyline is simple and mature. The acting from all corners, whether it be from Parthipan as the haunted lover, Nandita Das as the luckless woman, or Devayani as the threatened wife, is superlative. The movie is a good mature movie.

Before the Rains, 2007

It’s 1937. India is waking up to the call of independence. In the simmering discontent, two worlds collide. Tragedy is inevitable. Moores, a haughty British planter played by Linus Roache, embarks on a passionate affair with his maid, Sajani, played by Nandita Das. When the affair is discovered, Moores’ enlists his loyal caretaker, T.K. played by Rahul Bose, to help him. Despite the evidence around him, T. K. thinks of the British and especially Moore as benign rulers. When his former teacher speaks to him about getting rid of the British, T.K. asks, ‘And why should we be rid of them sir. With mutual co-operation comes mutual prosperity.’ But the illicit love affair and its disastrous consequences force him to confront reality and make difficult moral choices.

Firaaq, 2008

Firaaq is actor Nandita Das's debut movie (she has done it like a pro, though) and will be remembered as a well-made movie, on the aftermath of Gujarat riots.
This movie was with me for the past one month at least. I was just postponing to watch the serious movie. Whenever I think about Govind Nihalani's 'Tamas' and Kamal's Tamil movie, 'Mahanadhi', I get upset and had decided never to watch very serious movies again. But like I reluctantly watched 'Parzania' I watched this also. And cursed myself when I saw the opening scene of the movie...but because of the impact of the scene, I wanted to watch the whole movie.

Kamli, 2006

The Lambada tribal people of India live in abject poverty. Despite this, their colourful, mirror-worked clothes are highly desirable to many Westerners and so too are their babies. This entertaining folk-theatre fiction, coloured with song and dance, stars Nandita Das as Kamli, a tribal woman whose newborn son is swapped for a baby girl in the hospital. Her alcoholic husband wants to sell the girl, but Kamli wants justice.

I AM, 2010

The always amazing Nandita Das kicks off the movie as a single woman whose failed relationship prevents her from fulfilling her desire to have a child of her own. She begins considering sperm donors. Throughout, she has to deal with the pros and cons of doing so, while she eventually settles on Purab Kohli’s character as a donor. This segment really deals with the struggle one goes through when coming to such a decision, and the roots behind it. Is it a biological need, loneliness, an urge to feel wanted, needed, and most importantly, loved by someone? It’s a very somber segment that is carried by Das’ quiet and restraint performance. What Afia goes through is very subtle and it’s never once goes into hyper emotional mode.

Provoked, 2006

Casting Aishwarya Rai, Miranda Richardson, Nandita Das Direction: Jagmohan Mundhra Set in London and based on a real-life story, director Jag Mundhra's film Provoked is engaging till its very end because it's such a dramatic story and because it avoids over-sentimentality, a trap that most films of this genre invariably fall into. Thankfully, we're spared all the Bollywood-style chest-beating and the shameless tugging at heart-strings that most Hindi films of this kind indulge in.