How many actors do you think would have been where they are today had it not been for fame? Agreed there is a lot of money involved in the industry, but fame and recognition is one of the prime incentives for making a career in acting. The tag of being a ‘celebrity’ is enough to get the inside actor out. But is this valid for all? No, there are a few who have a real passion for acting. They would act no matter what – sans money, sans fame, only for their passion! This page is dedicated to one of these stars – Tannishtha Chatterjee, one of the most renowned Indian actors internationally, who has in her decade long career made the country proud with her achievements in films in the country and abroad. Proudly known as the ‘princess of parallel cinema’, she has played pivotal roles in films like, ‘Brick Lane’, ‘Shadows of Time’, ‘Road, Movie’, ‘Dekh Indian Circus’ and so on. She has won several Best Actress awards in various film festivals for her films and been a part of the jury in prestigious film festivals. Furthermore, she is the only Indian actor to have three of her films selected in three different film festivals in a single year, a feat that not many international actors can also vouch for.
Dive Into The Time!
Tannishtha Chatterjee was born on November 23, 1980 in Pune, Maharashtra to a Bengali Hindu family. While her father is a business executive, her mother works as a political science professor. Tannishtha’s formative years were mostly spent outside the country, in Japan, Australia, England and Kenya. However, the family duly returned to their homeland and made the capital city, New Delhi their new address. About Tannishtha’s educational background, she is a major in chemistry from Delhi University. After completing her course in Chemistry, Tannishtha followed her passion and enrolled at the National School of Drama.
How many mainstream actors can claim that their debut movie won a National Film Award? Not many, isn’t it? Well, that speaks volumes about Tannishtha Chatterjee’s mettle as an actor. Do we even need to say anything else? Tannishtha has been on a dream run ever since her career started with National Film Award winning flick, ‘Swaraj’, in 2003. She had the audacity to move out of the ordinary and pick movies that catered to a select audience. No run-off-the-mill or sing-and bling tales for this bold actress.
Tannishtha’s big break came with the German film, ‘Shadow of Time’. Not only did the film won her critical acclaim but also took her overseas to be a part of International Film Festivals in Toronto and Berlin that opened new avenues and a new learning experience for the talented actress. It was there that she found work in an Indo-French coproduction ‘Hava Aney Dey’ (2004), which was a directorial venture of Partho SenGupta. The film premiered at the Berlin Film Festival. It won the best film award at the Durban Film Festival. What followed was a string of successful films including ‘Kasturi’, ‘Strings’, and ‘Bibar’, the latter of which won her Best Actress award in Bengal Film Journalists’ Association Awards.
It was Sarah Gavron’s British film, Brick Lane’ (2007) that gave Tannishtha the kind of breakthrough she deserved. The film brought her international recognition and fame. For her brilliant performance in the movie, she was nominated for the British independent film awards along with actresses like Judi Dench and Anne Hathaway. Later on, Tannishtha acted in a lot of unconventional films including ‘Bhopal: Prayer for Rain’ alongside Martin Sheen and ‘Road, Movie’ with Abhay Deol. Her film, ‘Bombay Summer’ won her the Best Actress award at the Miaac New York Film Festival. She participated in the 62nd Cannes Film Festival and was referred by the Indian media as the country’s chief flag bearer at the festival.
In 2010, Tannishtha was one of the jury members of the Asia Pacific Screen Awards. Truly an international Indian actor, her film ‘Dekh Indian Circus’ (2011) was premiered at the Busan International Film Festival and won the audience choice award at the festival. Back in Bollywood, Tannishtha has donned several characters for various films including, ‘I Love New Year’, ‘Gulab Gang’ and so on. In 2012, she was seen in the directorial venture of Joe Wright for ‘Anna Karenina’
Super Year – 2013!
Year 2013 was a super year for Tannishtha in terms of her career. She achieved a feat that no Indian can claim to have – having her films selected for three major film festivals in a single year. Her film ‘Monsoon Shootout’ was an official selection at the 66th Cannes Film Festival and her Canadian film ‘Siddharth’ was an official selection at the 70th Venice Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival.
Ever since her super year 2013, Tannishtha’s career has been on a roll. She featured opposite Brett Lee in the Australian rom-com ‘Unindian’. She was a part of the successful films, including ‘Island City’, ‘LION’ and ‘Angry India Goddesses’, the latter of which earned her huge acclaim in Toronto and Rome International Film Festivals. Director Leena Yadav’s 2016 film, ‘Parched’ had Tannishtha play pivotal role. The film gained her Best Actress award at the Festival2valenciennes and Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles 2016. Same year, she was given a special award in a ceremony held at the BAFTA for her contribution to Asian cinema. She was the president of the jury of the prestigious MOOOV film festival in Belgium in 2016.
Tannishtha Chatterjee was recently invited as a guest at an Indian television show, ‘Comedy Nights Bachao’. In the show she was ‘roasted’ for her dark skin. Furious as she was, she walked out of the show, citing it to have a regressively blatant racist content. Later on, she slammed the channel and the show on social media for taking a dig at her complexion. The channel duly apologized for the prejudiced and bigoted comment on the show.
Did You Know?
- Acting apart, Tannishtha is a trained Hindustani classical vocalist. She has sung for movies like Road, Page 3, and several of her own films. Tannishtha has even sung at the Royal Opera House in London with well-known British composer Jocelyn Pook.
- Tannishtha upcoming releases include a biopic on Indian’s first female Doctor. The film is a period film, and shows the life of Dr. Rakhmabai, India’s first female doctor from birth to death. Her life span from 20 to 90 serves as the heart of the film.
- Tannishtha has voiced her opinion on the need for branding of content driven movies. She claims that lack of knowledge about good content movies is the main reason as to why audience choose potboiler or regular box office masala film over content cinema.