She stole our heart with her performance in her debut film Ab Ke Baras (2002), and then as the girl-next-door in Ishq Vishk (2003) with Shahid Kapoor. From then on, her simple yet touching roles have made her a well-known face in Bollywood. Be it in the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Main Hoon Na (2004), the romantic film Vivah (2006) or in Satyagraha (2013) with Amitabh Bachchan, Amrita Rao’s remarkable performance has touched the audience and her fans.
Popularly known for playing traditional, Indian characters, Amrita in real life too is very traditional and believes in a simple and family-oriented Diwali celebration. On this festive occasion, the stunning actress shares with DARPAN her beautiful memories of Diwali, her plans of celebrating the festival this year, and a beautiful message for our readers.
How do you celebrate Diwali?
I start my day by bathing with sandalwood soap. Traditionally, it was bathing with utna and chandhan powder. I also love to wear the Indian sari or lehenga choli and wear lots of gold jewellery on Diwali day. Starting the day with puja in the temple or at home has also become a tradition.
What does the word Diwali mean to you?
To me, the word Diwali means lights, happiness, family reunions, gifts, home-made yummy goodies, and bonding.
Could you share your experiences of Diwali with us?
Diwali is a time when my mom and I decorate the house with oil lamps and lanterns. I recall sweet memories of participating in rangoli competitions in neighbouring societies and also having won a few prizes. I look forward to inviting friends and relatives for a Diwali dinner. Bursting noise-free crackers such as the phooljhadi and anar is a must! Last year I was delighted to see a box of crackers that had my photograph on it and I insisted my friends to pick it up for me.
What has been the most memorable Diwali so far?
I remember this one Diwali when during the shoot of Main Hoon Na Sushmita Sen invited me, Zayed Khan and Farah Khan to her house for dinner. We bonded over shoot experiences and mutual praises. Sushmita has this beautiful house with a terrace and an adjoining room with a glass ceiling. It was amazing to see all the Diwali crackers illuminating in the sky. It seemed like a perfect evening.
What are you planning for Diwali this year?
This year, my dearest masi (maternal aunt) will be coming from America to specially celebrate Diwali with her parents. Hence, it would be great to celebrate Diwali with my grandparents and relatives. It will be a big fat family Diwali celebration.
Are you associated with any social work or charitable organization during Diwali?
Yes, I generally meet the children of Smile Foundation and spend one of the Diwali days with them.
Tell us a good and not-so-good thing about Diwali, according to you?
The good thing about Diwali is the family reunions and bonding as you don’t get time to catch up with relatives most of the year due to busy schedules. The not-so-good thing is the deafening noise of crackers and pollution.
What is your favourite Diwali food or snack?
I love homemade karanjis (filled with jaggery and coconut) and chaklis.
Diwali is also a time for fashion, what is Diwali dressing for you?
Lehenga cholis’s are my favourite. Wear materials that look dressy, but are light and comfortable. I love wearing gold jewellery or diamond sets during Diwali.
There are a lot of trends associated with Diwali like card parties, themed Diwali parties and so on. Do you follow any of these trends?
Yes, we have played cards during Diwali and I have also won a couple of them. Betting money to these games makes it more fun. Also Housie is the most favourite game in our group. We definitely have one Housie session.
Do share a Diwali beauty and style tip.
Beauty tip – You can wear whatever you want, but don’t forget to wear a smile and the twinkle in your eyes.
Style tip – Festivals are hectic, so wear comfortable footwear and don’t let those heels injure you.
What are your views on an eco-friendly Diwali?
I personally believe that the commercialisation of Diwali has made the festival of lights into a festival of noise, creating air or sound pollution. Hence, I prefer burning oil lamps and light electrical light arrangements to celebrate the festival.
Which project are you working on at the moment? Do share your future plans?
I am shooting for a unique and special project which I cannot reveal at this point.
How do you see your journey in Bollywood so far? Which were the best moments, according to you?
Despite of having no pedigree in the film industry, my journey has been smooth and lucky. Films always found me from the start and I did not have to approach any one for work. I was choosy and had the right to choose work of my comfort. I have worked with the best of top filmmakers.
Some of my milestones have been working with Shah Rukh Khan; winning the Dadasaheb Phalke Academy Award for Vivah; becoming legendary painter MF Hussain’s muse; winning the Stardust Best Actress Award for Shyam Benegal’s Welcome to Sajjanpur; and recently working so closely with Amitabh Bachchan in Satyagraha.