Travel is the best riyaaz, says Rajshri
Rajshri Deshpande left her hometown Aurangabad 17 years ago to become an actress. Life wasn’t easy for this self-confessed rebel. She started off doing jobs at law firms and ad agencies in Pune to stay afloat, and went on to open her own firm a few years later. She quit a well-paying job, enrolled in acting school (at Whistling Woods, Mumbai), and today, calls herself an ‘offbeat actress’, having worked in films across languages (Marathi, Hindi, Malayalam and Bengali), and in critically acclaimed films like Angry Indian Goddesses, where she played a character called Laxmi. Currently, she’s working on an untitled Hindi
film, where she plays an athlete, more specifically, a sprinter. “I play a negative character for the first time in this independent film, and that is completely new for me,” offers Rajshri.
Talking of her early days, Rajshri felt that she was getting into a “zone of settlement” with her day job. “Theatre, drama and dance always appealed to me, and I thought it was time I revisited my passions,” says the actress, who started off as a production assistant in the industry. “I travelled quite a bit, trying to figure out where I fit in. Honestly, I am still finding my feet here,” she says with a smile. Rajshri recalls backpacking in Kashmir, and taking part in rescue efforts in Nepal after the recent earthquake. “Travel is the best riyaaz, the best education. The more you explore, the more you get to understand,” she enthuses.
Show and tell
Her Malayalam film Sexy Durga, directed by Sanal Kumar Shashidharan, and a recent winner of the Hivos Tiger Award at the Rotterdam Film Festival, has come in for much debate due to its title. Rajshri clarifies, “Sexy Durga started off as an erotic film, and yes, there was nudity involved. However, the script was really good and therefore I had no inhibitions,” she explains. The narrative, Rajshri says, was constantly altered. She adds, “The story is about a couple in love, who elope, and what happens to them when they take a lift on a highway. There is a visarjan of Durga happening side by side, and the film draws parallels… how, as a society, we treat our goddesses and our women.”