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Nandita Das, a film star with a social conscience, is on a mission to prove that there is life for Indian actresses outside Bollywood.
More interested in exploring gritty social realism on camera than pandering to the Mumbai movie scene, her roles have ranged from revolutionary communist in 2002's "Lal Salaam" to keeper of a children's graveyard in "Maati Maay" (2006).
Das describes acting as "my journey, not my goal" and claims it is "a very little part of my life." She is known for being selective about the parts she plays, and her roles have been an uncomfortable reminder to some that there's more to India than the average all-singing, all-dancing extravaganza portrays.
She hit the headlines with director Deepa Mehta for the films "Fire" (1996) and "Earth" (1998), which garnered her criticism from some quarters for portraying India in an unflattering light. The subject matter (a lesbian affair in "Fire" and child marriage in "Earth", which saw Das undergo a harrowing gang rape scene) proved so inflammatory that the third in the series, "Water", had to be abandoned when the sets were destroyed and effigies of Mehta burnt.
Since then, Das has played a wide range of roles, from romantic lead to AIDS victim. Das has also worked on the other side of the camera, directing a number of public service shorts.
Das has married and divorced twice. She is committed to social causes, particularly those helping women and children, believes that film can be a powerful instrument for social change and regularly speaks on human rights issues.