Tanushree Dutta won Miss India 2004 pageant and rose to fame instantly. Her compelling persona on ramps and intriguing charm on screen, made her the mainstream actress of Bollywood. She is independent, empowered and definitely has no fears. Here, Tanushree Dutta, in a free-wheeling conversation, talks about her acting career, bold decisions and an incident that created a wave of #metoo movement in the country.
Life back in the United States
My life back in the US is very different from Mumbai because I stayed in a quiet suburban neighbourhood of New Jersey with lots of greenery; walking trails and wildlife around. Appearings at events across the country as a celebrity guest, judge, motivational speaker and brand promoter at Indian community events was a part of my work. In my free time I used to spend time studying various subjects in spirituality and meditating in nature. I also had a small social circle: I used to meet my friends and acquaintances from time to time. Overall it’s been a very peaceful and simple life devoid of much drama.
Distance from Bollywood!
In the last 10 years, Yes, I have missed my craft a lot. I have missed being in front of camera time to time and my usual life as a Bollywood star with busy work assignments as I used to have at one point. I was a rising star in Bollywood when an unpleasant workplace harassment incident made me quit films and media for good. I missed my old life every single day of my life till I got used to my new life with God’s grace. Now I think about it only sparingly but nevertheless the wound of being wronged is still fresh and I missed out on many years of acting and modelling due to the after effects of that incident. I cannot change the past but I am certain that I have gained valuable skillsets and life experiences through my ups and downs to resurrect my professional life once again with positivity and enthusiasm!
Coming back home after 2 years
It felt great and cathartic. I have always loved India and our people even if I don’t get the same reciprocation sometimes because I indulge in hard hitting social activism here which few people clearly are not fond of. Also, receiving overwhelming support from the majority has boosted my confidence. Being an Ex-Miss India Universe and Bollywood star made me experience life as an ambassador to my country in beauty pageantry and media and entertainment. So to be back in India is like being a fish in familiar waters!
I won the title of Miss India Universe in 2004 and represented India at Miss Universe where I was placed in top 10. Prior to my pageant, I was a popular model too, so film offers started coming soon as I came back from the Miss Universe Pageant.
The incident and how it blew up after 10 years again in India
It was a very dense chapter of my life, one that left a very bad impact on my career and my life as well. Besides I am pursuing the case and will not let go till I get justice and all four accused are behind bars! Right now my energies are focused on restructuring, reformatting, rebooting and rebuilding my life. People don’t realise how hard girls like me work with no connections or Godfathers in the industry, to get to whatever position I had in the Industry prior to the incident. But when you get harassed and troubled at work it takes away your will and motivation to do anything in life because you think what is the point. It is a culture that needs to stop because it affects people long term specially women. After I stopped working in movies I had to endure many financial losses and troubles. Luckily, my family supported me and I also had savings. Besides my fans and well-wishers kept inviting me to grace events, so I managed a reasonable lifestyle. But I can empathize with others who don’t have this privilege and support. So I hope that this issue is taken seriously as part of our collective karma to ensure a safe working environment for women and all.
Support received from Bollywood
I am happy about the support that I got but I still feel like it’s not enough just verbally supporting or tweeting. If you really mean what you say then you will refuse to work with people who were responsible for spoiling someone’s career and livelihood. Also if you really mean to support the #metoo you will not shy away from working with someone who spoke up against workplace harassment. These are the unsung heroes of humanity that are changing this world for better.
Plans to get back to acting
Yes, perhaps and there’s a good reason for it now. I want to use my life experiences, skill sets and self-realization to help this world in some way and I am very sure I will accomplish this mission with the right support system and progress. I have never shied away from working hard and I will resurrect my life and career once again in a brand new way. I may have been beaten down to the ground a lot by negative forces but must I just surrender to stay there forever? I will do what’s best for me and everyone else in the long run.