Nandita Das

Nandita Das (born 7 November 1969) is an Indian actor and director. She has acted in over 40 feature films in ten different languages. Das won accolades for numerous performances, including in 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 traveled 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 was '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 still6.jpg
Nandita at an Event
Born7 November 1969 (1969-11-07) (age 51)
OccupationActress, director
Years active1989, 1996–present
Soumya Sen
(m. 2002; div. 2007)
Subodh Maskara
(m. 2010⁠–⁠2017)
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.



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 acting 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).[16] She has also acted in Khamosh! Adalat jaari hai (2017), a Cineplay production written by Vijay Tendulkar.[17]


In 2008, she directed her first film, Firaaq.[18] 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".[19] In 2018, Nandita directed Manto.[20] 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.[21] The film was premiered in Cannes film festival in 2018.[22] The film was also screened at Toronto International film festival.[23] 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,[24] and Mahatma Gandhi's autobiography by Charkha Audiobooks, The Story of My Experiments with Truth.[25] 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).[26]

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 7min film, produced by Nandita das Initiatives, is about the increase in domestic violence and overburden of work that women are facing during the lockdown. It was supported by UNESCO, UNFPA, UNICEF, UN Women and South Asia Foundation and can be freely watched on Youtube

Personal lifeEdit

In 2002, Das married Saumya Sen.[27] The couple began Leapfrog, a media organisation geared towards making socially conscious ad films.[28] The couple divorced in 2007.[29][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.[30][31] Das and Maskara have a son named Vihaan.[32] In January 2017, the couple announced that they have parted ways.[33]

Das has remained an atheist throughout her life.[34]


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.[35] In 2009, Das was appointed Chairperson of the Children's Film Society of India.[36] In 2012, she was the guest of honour at the iVolunteer Awards, held in Mumbai.[37] Das also donated to the launch of the investigative journalism magazine Tehelka, founded by Tarun Tejpal.[38]

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."[39] Das said in 2014: "Even in the [Indian film] industry when 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."[40] 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.[41]

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).[42][43]

In 2016, she gave a TEDx talk at TEDxWalledCity on "The Biggest Hypocrisy of Our Times: Our Attitude to Poverty."[44] In 2011, she spoke at TEDxNarimanPoint, on "Transformation in Education".[45]

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


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 Best Actress Won
2002 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) Best Actress Won
2013 60th Filmfare awards (South) Neerparavai Best Supporting actor Nominated
For Direction
Year Award Film Category Status
2008 Asian Festival of First Films Firaaq
  • Best Film
  • Best Screenplay
  • Foreign Correspondents Association Purple Orchid Award for Best Film
2009 Kara Film Festival Best Film Won
2009 International Film Festival of Kerala Special Jury Award Won
2009 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
2018 Toronto International Film Festival People's Choice Award Nominated
2018 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


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.[46][47]


  Denotes films that have not yet been released


Year Title Role Director Language(s) Notes
Bangle Box Hindi Telefilm
1989 Parinati Prakash Jha Hindi
1995 Ek Thi Goonja Goonja Bappa Ray Hindi
1996 Fire Sita Deepa Mehta English
1998 1947 Earth Shanta, the Ayah Deepa Mehta Hindi Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut
Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa Nandini Mitra Govind Nihalani Hindi
Janmadinam Sarasu Suma Josson Malayalam
Biswaprakash Anjali Susant Misra Odia
1999 Deveeri Deveeri (Akka) Kavita Lankesh Kannada
Rockford Lily Vegas Nagesh Kukunoor English
Punaradhivasam Shalini VK Prakash Malayalam
2000 Hari-Bhari Afsana Shyam Benegal Hindi
Saanjh Hindi Short film
Bawandar Sanwari Jagmohan Mundhra Hindi,
Best Actress at Santa Monica Film Festival
2001 Aks Supriya Verma Rakesh Mehra Hindi
Daughters of the Century Charu Tapan Sinha Hindi
2002 Aamaar Bhuvan Sakina Mrinal Sen Bengali Best Actress at Cairo Film Festival
Zee Cine Award for Best Actor – Female
Kannaki Kannaki Malayalam
Pitaah Paro Hindi
Azhagi Dhanalakshmi Thangar Bachan Tamil
Kannathil Muthamittal Shyama Mani Ratnam Tamil Tamil Nadu State Film Award Special Prize
Lal Salaam Rupi(alias Chandrakka) Gagan B. Borate Hindi
2003 Ek Alag Mausam Aparna Verma KP Sasi Hindi
Bas Yun Hi Veda Raja Menon Hindi
Supari Mamta Sikri Padam Kumar Urdu
Shubho Mahurat Mallika Sen Rituporno Ghosh Bengali
Kagaar: Life on the Edge Aditi N Chandra Hindi
Ek Din 24 Ghante Sameera Dutta KP Sasi Hindi
2004 Vishwa Thulasi Sita Sumathy Ram Tamil
2005 Fleeting Beauty Indian woman English
2006 Maati Maay Chandi Chitra Palekar Marathi Madrid International Film Festival (2007), Best Actress
Podokkhep Megha Suman Ghosh Bengali
Kamli Kamli KNT Sastry Telugu Nandi Award for Best Actress
2007 Before the Rains Sajani Santosh Sivan English,
Provoked Radha Dalal Jagmohan Mundhra English
Naalu Pennungal Kamakshi Adoor Gopalakrishnan Malayalam
Paani: A Drop of Life Mira Ben Hindi Short film
2008 Ramchand Pakistani Champa Mehreen Jabbar Urdu Pakistani film
2011 I Am Afia Onir Hindi
2012 Neerparavai Esther Seenu Ramaswamy 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 English,
2017 Khamosh! Adalat Jaari Hai Leela Benare Ritesh Menon Hindi
2018 Dhaad Monghi Paresh Naik Gujarati[48] shot in 2001
2019 Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai? Soumitra Ranade Hindi Remake of classic Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyoon Aata Hai[49]


Year Title Language Notes
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


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


  1. ^ Staff, Scroll (12 April 2018). "Nandita Das's 'Manto' to be premiered at Cannes Film Festival". Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  2. ^ a b "'[ [ India's Got Colour]]' | United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization". Retrieved 11 November 2019. External link in |title= (help)
  3. ^ Ians (16 April 2011). "French honour for Nandita Das". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  4. ^ "Distinction conferred on Actor-Director Nandita Das, 2011". La France en Inde / France in India. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  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.
  7. ^ "Game for Fame -Nandita Das is first Indian to be inducted into the International Women's Forum Hall of Fame". India Today. 5 November 2011.
  8. ^ "The game changer". Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  9. ^ "Nandita Das in IWF's International Hall of Fame | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis". dna. 29 October 2011. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  10. ^ "International Women's Forum Programs". International Women's Forum. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  11. ^ "International Women's Forum Brochure" (PDF).
  12. ^ "I am still searching for a place to call home". OPEN. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  13. ^ Khushwant, Singh (21 September 2009). "The Painter's Daughter". Outlook India. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
  14. ^ Mendis, Isidore Domnick (23 June 2003). "Independent stardom". Business Line. Retrieved 20 June 2009.
  15. ^ "Nandita Das | Yale Greenberg World Fellows". Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  16. ^ Menon, Ritesh (29 March 2014), Nandita Das and Divya Jagdale's Between the Lines, Nandita Das, Subodh Maskara, retrieved 4 April 2018
  17. ^ Menon, Ritesh (14 March 2017), Khamosh Adalat Jaari Hai, Nandita Das, Pravina Bhagwat Deshpande, Ajitesh Gupta, retrieved 4 April 2018
  18. ^ Saltz, Rachel (4 June 2009). "The Variety of Life, Real and Imagined, in Movie-Mad India". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 June 2009.
  19. ^ Nandita Das talks about her directorial debut Firaaq. Radio Sargam. 26 January 2009.
  20. ^ "Nandita Das and Nawazuddin Siddiqui bring Mantoiyat to JNU - Times of India ►". The Times of India.
  21. ^ "Interview | If Manto Were Alive Today He Would Have Been Put Behind Bars: Nandita Das". The Wire. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  22. ^ "Writing the writer". Deccan Herald. 7 October 2018. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  23. ^ "Anurag Kashyap's Manmarziyaan, Nandita Das' Manto to be screened at Toronto International Film Festival- Entertainment News, Firstpost". Firstpost. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  24. ^ throh. "The Hindu : Beneath the Banyan boughs". Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  25. ^ "Mahatma Gandhi Autobiography - Audiobooks free download". Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  26. ^ Save the Bengal Tiger, Brielle Barbusca, Nandita Das, Teala Dunn, retrieved 4 April 2018CS1 maint: others (link)
  27. ^ "Nandita, Saumya remain friends". OneIndia. 2 August 2006. Archived from the original on 8 July 2012. Retrieved 20 June 2009.
  28. ^ "Her own person". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 19 December 2004. Retrieved 20 June 2009.
  29. ^ Anand, Utkarsh (24 May 2009). "Actor Nandita Das files for divorce". Yahoo! India News. Archived from the original on 31 May 2009. Retrieved 20 June 2009.
  30. ^ "Nandita Das is dating again". 21 November 2009. Retrieved 30 December 2009.[permanent dead link]
  31. ^ Jha, Subhash K (6 January 2010). "Nandita Das marries, moves to Mumbai by SUBHASH K JHA". The Times of India.
  32. ^ Lalwani, Vickey (12 August 2010). "It's a baby boy for Nandita!". The Times of India. Retrieved 13 August 2010.
  33. ^ "Nandita Das and husband Subodh Maskara split after seven years of marriage. Here's all the details". The Indian Express. 3 January 2017.
  34. ^ "Atheism is the religion for these filmi folk". The Times of India. 17 December 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  35. ^ Gautam, Savitha (27 September 2004). "Ms. Sense". The Hindu. Chennai, India. Retrieved 20 June 2009.
  36. ^ "Profile of Chairperson". CFSI website. Archived from the original on 7 December 2010.
  37. ^ "iVolunteer Awards Celebrates Volunteering by Recognizing Volunteers". Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  38. ^ "Tehelka business: Murky deals, profits for Tejpal family, Shoma - Firstpost".
  39. ^ Women, Respect. "Stay UNfair, Stay Beautiful!". Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  40. ^ Even within independent cinema there is a kind of populist independent cinema: Nandita Das – "The American Bazaar". 30 September 2014.
  41. ^ 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.
  42. ^ "Struggles of Being a Woman in Society and Cinema: A Talk with Nandita Das | Yale Greenberg World Fellows". Retrieved 21 June 2020.
  43. ^ "Naaree Interviews Actor And Director, Nandita Das". Naaree - Work From Home Career Advice For Women in India. 7 November 2015. Retrieved 21 June 2020.
  44. ^ TEDx Talks (21 March 2016). "The biggest hypocrisy of our times: Our attitude to Poverty - Nandita Das - TEDxWalledCity" – via YouTube.
  45. ^ TEDx Talks (20 September 2011). "TEDxNarimanPoint - Nandita Das - Transformation in Education" – via YouTube.
  46. ^ India, Press Trust of (30 August 2018). "Shabana Azmi, Nandita Das receive Bharatiya Manavata Vikas Puraskar" – via Business Standard.
  47. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 May 2019. Retrieved 9 May 2019.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  48. ^ Oza, Nandini (5 January 2018). "After 17 years, Gujarati film Dhaad starring Nandita Das set for release". The Week.
  49. ^ 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.

External linksEdit