INTERVIEW: Attractive Indian Actress Nimrat Kaur - a Guest of the 11th ZFF!

Nimrat Kaur, an attractive Indian film and stage actor and former model, will be visiting Zagreb these days in order to present Ritesh Batra's film The Lunchbox at the Zagreb Film Festival. The film tells us about the network of so-called dabbawallahs who deliver the lunchboxes with food that Mumbai housewives traditionally prepare for their husbands working in offices – as many as four million meals every day. Of all these meals, only one ends up on a wrong address. It is a film about such case. Nimrat Kaur plays the lead female role in it, side by side with the great Indian actor Irrfan Khan. The film won Audience Award in the Critic's Week program in Cannes. On Zagreb Film Festival it screens in Cinema Europa on Monday (21 October) at 19.00 and there will be two reruns later. Exclusively for, Nimrat Kaur tells us about the film, her career during which she collaborated with Miro Gavran and many other things. 

- Can you explain to Croatian readers the women’s role in this phenomenon of dabbawalahs- Mumbai lunch delivery?
Well, you can pretty much say that if the dabbawalahs are some kind of a train, then women are its first stop because they cook the food, they pack it, and then they send it further. The dabbawalahs today are almost like the family members working in offices. So that’s pretty much the first stop, it’s a very important relationship and I’m sure that many of them have relationships that can last for decades.

- What made you sign up for The Lunchbox? 
I read the script and I fell in love in it. Ritesh Batra created gorgeous characters and fell in love with them. I loved that boyish charm, the inability to keep up with the modern age, and this delicate love story taking place in the city like Mumbai, where it’s difficult to real get to know the people you’ve known for so long. And then, a twist of fate brings together two lost souls that belong to each other. I found that extremely romantic; it is a beautiful world to be a part of. So there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to be part of this feature once I’ve read the script. 

- The Lunchbox took you to the Cannes for the second time. What was your experience there like? 
It was gorgeous, I mean the film was embraced so much. We were celebrated as a film crew by French press, by the audience, we won the audience award there. It was a success, a kind of response none of us saw coming. We were hopeful that our film would be appreciated, but it was embraced with open arms, so much that it really overwhelmed us. I mean, I would walk the streets, and wherever I would go, I could hear people talking about The Lunchbox. They spoke in different languages, but I could hear the word lunchbox among a lot of foreign words. So I knew that the buzz was great. People would stop us and talk to us, recognizing us as the actors from the film. Irrfan and I were embarrassed, Nawazuddin as well, all of us were. It was incredible.

- What was it like working with Ritesh Batra and Irrfan Khan? Were you nervous on the set because you had to perform with such a great actor as Khan?
Unfortunately, there were no scenes together with Irrfan in the movie [laugh]. I wish there were some scenes written for the two of us, just for my personal gratification, you know. This would enable me to share a scene with him. Irrfan is really one of the most sophisticated actors in the world, I would say. What a guy, what an incredible man! I really wish we had more work together, but amazing enough is the fact that I share with him one of the first films of my cinema career. Well, coming to Ritesh, he was absolutely lovely, democratic and so open to suggestions and changes. We collaborated really closely on the script even before we started filming, we were working together on it for three or four months. We would meet practically every second day. So by the time we actually started filming, a huge amount of work had already been done. It really helped the film develop in an interesting direction later on. Ritesh was a great person to work with, I couldn’t have asked for a better director. He’s got such an accurate eye, he’s a citizen of the world. He truly has a sensitive and sophisticated eye.  

- Like many other people you too must have had your share of struggle. You were a model and after that you performed on stage. Can you tell us something about your experience in theater?
I started my career with modeling because it is a very good way of starting out in Mumbai. You can earn well for living and at the same time you get to know the media. I was really fortunate to have had a very good career in advertising. And I still work in it. Just a week before I went to Cannes I shot the most successful commercial in my career, which was also really exciting.

- It is interesting to mention that you appeared in the stage play 'All about women’ written by Miro Gavran, Croatian playwright and novelist. Can you tell us something about that cooperation?
So, I've been doing plays for the last 6 or 7 years and in fact my most successful production, the one that I'm known most for, was written by Miro Gavran. Only a few days ago, I happened to have a conversation with my producer here in Mumbai and I asked him if he knew anyone in Croatia because I was going there for the first time and didn't know anyone there. He said: „Oh, you know Croatia! You know Miro Gavran!“ And I couldn't believe that I had missed that Miro Gavran was from Croatia! I was like, what's the likelihood of him being there and being free and happy to meet me? It is very likely and extremely possible, he's a very nice man, very gracious, he'd be happy to meet me. My producer said that he'll connect us through e-mail. Mr. Gavran has been so lovely and kind and he's already picked up a meeting. I believe he will be watching The Lunchbox with his wife and his son, who are also actors. By the way, his wife was the first one to produce his play All about Women. So I'm really looking forward to meeting them and exchanging experiences with the play. 

- How would you describe and introduce The Lunchbox to Croatian audience who will be watching it at Zagreb Film Festival? 
The Lunchbox is a story about two people who are destined to meet – the question is only when and how. The city of Mumbai is a character of its own here. It's a beautiful, intimate love story. It really touches all your senses. Just one piece of advice - eat well before you go to see it because you might get hungry at the screening just after 25 minutes. And watch this movie with someone you love because it's this kind of a film.

- You will be visiting Zagreb and this festival for the first time. Do you have any expectations?
Well, I expect to get to know the place as much as I can. I am really hoping it will be cold there! I mean, I'm all excited to pack my winter clothes that I cannot wear in Mumbai. I'm hoping to catch a couple of films while I'm there. I really hope I can travel. I'm interested in history and architecture and historic monuments. So, I'm really looking forward to sightseeing and enjoying a cup of coffee somewhere quiet every day. I just can't wait to get there, I cannot wait! I've heard so much about Croatia and how beautiful it is. It is such a joy for me to be able to come there right now.