Nandita Das (born 7 November 1969[citation needed]) is an Indian actress and director. She has acted in over 40 feature films in ten different languages. Das appeared in the films Fire (1996), Earth (1998), Bawandar (2000), Kannathil Muthamittal (2002), Azhagi (2002), Kamli (2006), and Before The Rains (2007). Her directorial debut Firaaq (2008), premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and travelled to more than 50 festivals, winning more than 20 awards. Her second film as a director was Manto (2018). Based on the life of 20th Century Indo-Pakistani short story writer Sadat Hasan Manto, the film was screened at Cannes Film Festival in the "Un Certain Regard" section.[1] In September 2019, Das produced a two-minute Public Service Announcement music video India's Got Colour. The music video is about the issue of colourism and urges the audience to celebrate India's diversity of skin colour.[2] Her first book, 'Manto & I', chronicles her 6-year long journey of making the film. She wrote, directed, produced and acted in a short film called, Listen to Her, that sheds light on the increase in domestic violence and overburden of work that women have been facing during the lockdown.

Nandita Das
Nandita Das at the screening of Gattu in 2012 (01).jpg
Born7 November 1969 (1969-11-07) (age 53)
OccupationActress, director
Years active1989 – Present
Soumya Sen
(m. 2002; div. 2007)
Subodh Maskara
(m. 2010; sep 2017)
HonoursChevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (2011)

Das has served twice on the jury of the Cannes Film Festival. In 2005, she served on the main competition jury alongside Fatih Akin, Javier Bardem, Salma Hayek, Benoît Jacquot, Emir Kusturica, Toni Morrison, Agnès Varda, and John Woo. In 2013, she served on the Cinéfondation and short films jury with Jane Campion, Maji-da Abdi, Nicoletta Braschi, and Semih Kaplanoğlu.

In 2011, she was made Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters) by the French Government, one of the nation's highest civilian awards.[3] She was commended for her "contribution towards the development of Indo-French cooperation in the field of cinema."[4] In 2009, France released a stamp featuring Das, from artist Titouan Lamazou's project "Women of the World."[5][6]

Das was the first Indian inducted into the International Hall of Fame of the International Women's Forum in Washington, DC. She was recognized in 2011 for "her sustained contributions to the arts and to the world as one of the most gripping cinema arts leaders of our time."[7][8][9][10] Her fellow inductees were Anna Fendi, Heidi Klum, and Madam Chen Zhili.[11]

Early life and educationEdit

Das' father is the artist Jatin Das, and her mother is Varsha Das, a writer. She was born in Mumbai and grew up mostly in Delhi in an Odia family,[12] where she attended the Sardar Patel Vidyalaya school.[13] She received bachelor's degree in Geography from Miranda House and Master of Social Work from the Delhi School of Social Work, both affiliated with the University of Delhi.[14]

Das was a Yale World Fellow in 2014.[15] She was one of 16 emerging global leaders chosen from nearly 4000 applicants.

She has also taught at the Rishi Valley School.[citation needed]



Das has acted in over 40 feature films with directors such as Mrinal Sen, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Shyam Benegal, Deepa Mehta, and Mani Ratnam. She began her acting career with the street theatre group Jana Natya Manch. She is best known for her performances in director Deepa Mehta films Fire (1996) and Earth (1998; alongside Aamir Khan), Bawander (directed by Jagmohan Mundhra), and Naalu Pennungal (directed by Adoor Gopalakrishnan ). She has also acted in the movie Before the Rains, an Indian-British period drama film directed by Santosh Sivan.She has acted in films in ten different languages: English, Hindi, Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Marathi, Odia, and Kannada. The Tamil actor Sukanya provided Das' speaking voice in the Tamil classic Kannathil Muthamittal.

Das co-wrote, directed and acted in a play called Between the Lines (2014).[citation needed] She has also acted in Khamosh! Adalat jaari hai (2017), a Cineplay production written by Vijay Tendulkar.[citation needed]


In 2008, she directed her first film, Firaaq.[16] The film is a work of fiction "based on a thousand true stories" and is set a month after the 2002 Gujarat riots in India. It is an ensemble film that interweaves multiple stories over a 24-hour period, as the characters from different strata of society, grapple with the lingering effects of violence. Das said that the film "gave a voice to so much that remains silent".[17] In 2018, Nandita directed Manto.[18] Das decided to make a film on Manto after reading a translation of his stories in 2012. She always had Nawazuddin Siddiqui in mind for the role and approached him for the same.[19] The film was premiered in Cannes Film Festival in 2018.[20] The film was also screened at Toronto International Film Festival.[21] In 2019 Das produced and directed a PSA music video, 'India's Got Colour'.[2]

Voice narrationEdit

Das narrated the children's audiobook series Under the Banyan,[22] and Mahatma Gandhi's autobiography by Charkha Audiobooks, The Story of My Experiments with Truth.[23] She was also a voice actor in the children's television series Wonder Pets, as the Bengal Tiger in the episode Save the Bengal Tiger (2007).[citation needed]

She also sang the song Ramleela for the movie Aks and Jagya Sarsi for the movie Bawandar.

Listen to HerEdit

During the pandemic, in May 2020, she wrote, directed and acted in a short film called, Listen to Her. The 7 min film, produced by Nandita Das Initiatives, is about the increase in domestic violence and overburden of work that women are facing during the lock-down. It was supported by UNESCO, UNFPA, UNICEF, UN Women and South Asia Foundation.

Personal lifeEdit

In 2002, Das married Saumya Sen.[citation needed] The couple began Leapfrog, a media organisation geared towards making socially conscious ad films.[24] The couple divorced in 2007.[25][failed verification] After dating Subodh Maskara, a Mumbai industrialist, for a couple of months, she married him on 2 January 2010 and moved to Mumbai.[26][27] Das and Maskara have a son named Vihaan.[28] In January 2017, the couple announced that they have parted ways.[29]

Nandita Das is an atheist.[30] She claims she has no religious affiliation -- "If I aligned with anything it would probably be Buddhism," she said.[31]


Das has master's degree in Social Work from the University of Delhi. She has worked for children's rights, HIV/AIDS awareness, to end violence against women.[32] In 2009, Das was appointed Chairperson of the Children's Film Society of India.[33] In 2012, she was the guest of honour at the iVolunteer Awards, held in Mumbai.[34] Das also donated to the launch of the investigative journalism magazine Tehelka, founded by Tarun Tejpal.[35]

India's Got Colour (Dark is Beautiful) campaignEdit

In 2013, Das became the face of the "Dark is Beautiful" campaign. Launched by Women of Worth in 2009, the campaign aims to draw attention to the effects of discrimination based on skin color in India. The campaign urges women and men to celebrate the beauty and diversity of all skin tones, using slogans such as "Stay UNfair, Stay Beautiful."[36] Das said in 2014: In the [Indian film] industry a makeup man or a cinematographer would come and say can you lighten your skin a little, especially when you are playing the middle class educated character.[37] In 2019, the Campaign was reinvented as India’s Got Colour. Along with Mahesh Mathai, Nandita Das has produced and co-directed a two-minute PSA for the campaign. The music video features several eminent artists from the Indian Film Industry.[38]

Speaking engagementsEdit

Das has been a featured speaker at various platforms in India and abroad, including at MIT (in 2007, after a screening of Fire),[citation needed] and at Tufts University (in 2014, on gender in society and cinema).[39][40]

In 2016, she gave a TEDx talk at TEDxWalledCity on "The Biggest Hypocrisy of Our Times: Our Attitude to Poverty."[41] In 2011, she spoke at TEDxNarimanPoint, on "Transformation in Education".[42]

In 2019. she gave a Tedx talk at TEDxShivNadarUniversity about A Mother's Journey With Anger


In August 2018 Power Brands awarded Nandita Das the Bharatiya Manavata Vikas Puraskar for being a polymath with purpose, advocating issues of communal harmony, peace and social justice, especially for women, children and the marginalized "others" through various platforms, for her expressions of courage and compassion on celluloid and her steadfast faith in the power of cinema effecting social change for a better world.[43][44]

For Acting
Year Award Film Category Result
2000 45th Filmfare Awards 1947 Earth Best Debut Won
2001 Santa Monica Film Festival Bawander Best Actress Won
2002 Cairo International Film Festival Amaar Bhuvan Won
Tamil Nadu State Film Awards Kannathil Muthamittal Special Prize Won
2006 Nandi Awards Kamli Best Actress Won
2007 Madrid International Film Festival Maati Maay (A Grave-keeper's Tale) Won
2013 8th Lux Style Awards Ramchand Pakistani Best Film Actress Nominated
60th Filmfare Awards South Neerparavai Best Supporting Actress Nominated
For Direction
Year Award Film Category Status Ref
2008 Asian Festival of First Films Firaaq Best Film Won [45]
style="background: #9EFF9E; color: #000; vertical-align: middle; text-align: center; " class="yes table-yes2"|Won
style="background: #9EFF9E; color: #000; vertical-align: middle; text-align: center; " class="yes table-yes2"|Won
2009 Kara Film Festival Best Film Won
International Film Festival of Kerala Special Jury Award Won
Thessaloniki International Film Festival Special Prize (Everyday Life: Transcendence or Reconciliation Award) Won
Golden Alexander Nominated
2010 Filmfare Awards Special Award Won
2018 Cannes Film Festival Manto Un Certain Regard Award Nominated
Toronto International Film Festival People's Choice Award Nominated
Asia Pacific Screen Award FIAPF (Films in the Asia Pacific region) Won
2019 Filmfare Awards Best Film (Critics) Nominated
Best Screenplay Nominated
Best Dialogue Nominated


  Denotes films that have not yet been released


Year Title Role Language(s) Notes
Bangle Box Hindi Telefilm
1989 Parinati Hindi
1995 Ek Thi Goonja Goonja Hindi
1996 Fire Sita English
1998 1947 Earth Shanta, the Ayah Hindi Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut
Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa Nandini Mitra Hindi
Janmadinam Sarasu Malayalam
Biswaprakash Anjali Odia
1999 Deveeri Deveeri (Akka) Kannada
Rockford Lily Vegas English
Punaradhivasam Shalini Malayalam
2000 Hari-Bhari Afsana Hindi
Saanjh Hindi Short film
Bawandar Sanwari Hindi,
Best Actress at Santa Monica Film Festival
2001 Aks Supriya Verma Hindi
Daughters of the Century Charu Hindi
2002 Aamaar Bhuvan Sakina Bengali Best Actress at Cairo Film Festival
Zee Cine Award for Best Actor – Female
Kannaki Kannaki Malayalam
Pitaah Paro Hindi
Azhagi Dhanalakshmi Tamil Nominated-Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Tamil
Kannathil Muthamittal Shyama Tamil Tamil Nadu State Film Award Special Prize
Lal Salaam Rupi(alias Chandrakka) Hindi
2003 Ek Alag Mausam Aparna Verma Hindi
Bas Yun Hi Veda Hindi
Supari Mamta Sikri Urdu
Shubho Mahurat Mallika Sen Bengali
Kagaar: Life on the Edge Aditi Hindi
Ek Din 24 Ghante Sameera Dutta Hindi
2004 Vishwa Thulasi Sita Tamil
2005 Fleeting Beauty Indian woman English
2006 Maati Maay Chandi Marathi Madrid International Film Festival (2007), Best Actress
Podokkhep Megha Bengali
Kamli Kamli Telugu Nandi Award for Best Actress
2007 Before the Rains Sajani English,
Provoked Radha Dalal English
Naalu Pennungal Kamakshi Malayalam
Paani: A Drop of Life Mira Ben Hindi Short film
2008 Ramchand Pakistani Champa Urdu Pakistani film
2011 I Am Afia Hindi
2012 Neerparavai Esther Tamil Nominated—SIIMA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Tamil
Nominated—Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress – Tamil
2014 Rastres de Sàndal Mina Kuminar English,
2017 Khamosh! Adalat Jaari Hai Leela Benare Hindi
2018 Dhaad Monghi Gujarati[46] shot in 2001
2019 Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai? Stella Hindi Remake of classic Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyoon Aata Hai[47]
2022 Virata Parvam Shankutala Telugu [48]


Year Title Language Notes Ref
2008 Firaaq Hindi
Urdu &
Best Film and Best Screenplay at Asian Festival of First Films
Purple Orchid Award for Best Film at Asian Festival of First Films
Special Jury Award at International Film Festival of Kerala
Special Prize at International Thessaloniki Film Festival
Filmfare Special Award
Nominated—Golden Alexander at International Thessaloniki Film Festival
2017 In Defence of Freedom Hindi Short film
2018 Manto Hindi
2019 India's Got Colour Hindi Music Video
2022 Zwigato Hindi World premiere at the TIFF 2022[49]


  • Manto and I. Aleph Book Company. ISBN 978-81-943657-4-7


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  2. ^ a b "India's got colour". UNESCO. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
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  5. ^ "Philatelic issues related to Nandita Das issued by Foreign Countries". Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  6. ^ Taber, Kimberly Conniff (31 October 2007). "Titouan Lamazou: His vision of women around the world". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
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  11. ^ "International Women's Forum Brochure" (PDF).
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  31. ^ Garfinkel, Perry (2 October 2009). "Beyond the Screen". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 9 December 2021.
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  33. ^ "Profile of Chairperson". CFSI website. Archived from the original on 7 December 2010.
  34. ^ "iVolunteer Awards Celebrates Volunteering by Recognizing Volunteers". Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  35. ^ "Tehelka business: Murky deals, profits for Tejpal family, Shoma - Firstpost".
  36. ^ Women, Respect. "Stay UNfair, Stay Beautiful!". Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  37. ^ Even within independent cinema there is a kind of populist independent cinema: Nandita Das – "The American Bazaar". 30 September 2014.
  38. ^ Rosario, Kennith (3 October 2019). "Nandita Das brings out rap video to fight skin-tone discrimination". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
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  42. ^ TEDx Talks (20 September 2011). "TEDxNarimanPoint - Nandita Das - Transformation in Education" – via YouTube.
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  44. ^ "Daily India media recognizes 13 Indian stalwarts with Bharatiya Manavata Vikas Puraskar 2018 | Central Chronicle - Central India's Premier English Daily". Archived from the original on 9 May 2019. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
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  47. ^ Taran Adarsh [@taran_adarsh] (6 March 2019). "Manav Kaul, Nandita Das and Saurabh Shukla... #AlbertPintoKoGussaKyunAataHai - an official remake of the cult classic by Saeed Akhtar Mirza - to release on 12 April 2019... Directed by Soumitra Ranade... The 1980 classic starred Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi and Smita Patil." (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  48. ^ Taran Adarsh [@taran_adarsh] (14 December 2020). "RANA DAGGUBATI NEW POSTER... On #RanaDaggubati's birthday today, Team #ViraataParvam unveil the new poster... Final schedule is in progress in #Hyderabad... The #Telugu film costars #SaiPallavi, #NanditaDas and #Priyamani... Directed by Venu Udugula... D Suresh Babu presentation." (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  49. ^ Dasgupta (16 August 2022). "Kapil Sharma sheds his comic image in Nandita Das' Zwigato, plays an orthodox husband. Watch first trailer". The Indian Express. Retrieved 6 September 2022.

External linksEdit