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Nandita Das (born 7 November 1969) is an Indian film actress and director. She has acted in more than 30 feature films in 10 different languages. She was acclaimed for her performances in Fire (1996), Earth (1998), Bawandar (2000), Kannathil Muthamittal (2002), Azhagi, also a National Award winning Kamli (2006) in Telugu and Before The Rains (2007). Firaaq, her directorial debut feature film, premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 2008, and has traveled to more than 50 festivals, winning more than 20 awards. She has been on the jury of Cannes Film Festival, amomg others, twice (2005 and 2013). She was awarded the Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the Government of France for her contribution towards arts. Nandita Das was the first Indian to be inducted into the International Women's Forum's Hall of Fame for her contributions to the arts.[1]

Nandita Das
Nandita Das at the screening of Gattu in 2012 (01).jpg
Nandita at the screening of Gattu in 2012
Born (1969-11-07) 7 November 1969 (age 48)
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Nationality Indian
Occupation Actress, Director
Years active 1989, 1996–present
Spouse(s) Soumya Sen (2002–07)[citation needed]
Subodh Maskara (2010–2017) (Separated)
Children 1


Early life and educationEdit

Das was born to Jatin Das, a popular artist, and Varsha, a writer.[2] Das is of Odia descent on her father's side and Gujarati on her mother’s side. She has a younger brother who works as a creative designer. Despite being born in Mumbai, she was largely brought up in Delhi,[3] where she was schooled at the Sardar Patel Vidyalaya.[4] Later, she received her bachelor's degree in Geography from Miranda House and a Master of Social Work degree from the Delhi School of Social Work, both affiliated to the University of Delhi.[5]

Nandita Das was a Yale World Fellow 2014. She was among the 16 emerging global leaders who were chosen from close to 4000 applicants. The mission of the fellowship is to cultivate and empower a network of globally engaged leaders committed to positive change through dialogue and action.



Nandita Das

Nandita Das started her acting career with the theatre group Jana Natya Manch. She taught at the Rishi Valley School.

She has acted in over 40 feature films in ten different languages with many eminent directors like Mrinal Sen, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Shyam Benegal, Deepa Mehta, Mani Ratnam and others.

She is best known for her performances in Deepa Mehta films Fire, Earth alongside Aamir Khan, Bawander (directed by Jagmohan Mundhra) and Naalu Pennungal (directed by Adoor Gopalakrishnan ). Das has acted in films in ten different languages: English, Hindi, Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Marathi, Oriya and Kannada. The movie star Sukanya provided Das' speaking voice in the Tamil classic Kannathil Muthamittal.

Nandita Das revisited her theatre roots with a play called Between the Lines co-written and directed by her. She has also acted in Khamosh! Adalat jaari hai, a Cineplay production written by Vijay Tendulkar's [clarification needed]


In 2008, she completed filming her directorial debut, Firaaq.[6] The film is a work of fiction "based on a thousand true stories" and is set a month after the 2002 Gujarat riots. 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. The film traces the emotional journeys of ordinary people – some who were victims, some perpetrators and some who chose to watch silently.

Das said that the film "gave a voice to so much that remains silent".[7]

Voice narrationEdit

Das narrated the children's audiobook series Under the Banyan, and Mahatma Gandhi's autobiography by Charkha Audiobooks The Story of My Experiments with Truth. She has also lent her voice to the children's television series, Wonder Pets as the Bengal Tiger.

Personal lifeEdit

In 2002, Das married Saumya Sen.[8] The couple began Leapfrog, a media organisation geared towards making socially conscious ad films.[9] The couple divorced in 2007.[10][not in citation given] After dating Subodh Maskara, an industrialist based out of Mumbai for a couple of months, she married him on 2 January 2010 and moved to Mumbai.[11][12] Das and Maskara had a baby boy named Vihaan.[13] In January 2017, the couple announced that they have parted ways.[14]

Das has remained an atheist throughout her life.[15]


Das has a Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Delhi and continues to advocate issues of social justice and human rights. She is a passionate volunteer and served as a Guest of honour in the prestigious iVolunteer Awards 2012, held in Mumbai.[16]

Among other topics, she campaigns for child survival, against AIDS, and violence against women.[17] She was appointed as the chairperson of the Children's Film Society of India in 2009.[18]

She was also one of the petitioners who sought mercy for Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab involved in Mumbai 26/11 terror attack.[19] Das also donated INR 1 lac for setting up online magazine Tehelka founded by Tarun Tejpal.[20]

She was a member of the main jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 2005, among other reputed international film festivals. She has served as the Chairperson of the Children's Film Society, India.

She has spoken out against the dark skin colour bias in India. "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," she said in an interview in September 2014.[21]

Speaking engagementsEdit

Nandita Das is a featured speaker who has spoken at various platforms, both in India and around the world. She spoke at MIT on 12 April 2007 after a screening of Fire.

In 2013, she gave her support to the Dark is Beautiful campaign to draw attention to the unjust effects of skin colour bias in India and celebrate the beauty and diversity of all skin tones.[22] She is exhorting women to 'Stay Unfair, Stay Beautiful' [23] She spoke at Tufts University on 30 October 2014 on gender in society and cinema.


The French government has bestowed on Nandita Das the award of Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters, a very prestigious Civil Award. In 2011, she was the first Indian to be inducted into the Hall of Fame of the International Women's Forum, Washington DC. On 10.03.2009 France released a self-adhesive stamp as part of the project "Women of the world" for Nandita Das.[24]

2000 45th Filmfare Awards
2001 Santa Monica Film Festival
  • Won – Best Actress – Bawander
2002 Cairo International Film Festival
  • Won – Best Actress – Amaar Bhuvan
2002 Tamil Nadu State Film Awards
2005 Cannes Film Festival
2006 Nandi Awards
2008 Asian Festival of First Films
  • Won – Best Film – Firaaq
  • Won – Best Screenplay – Firaaq
  • Won – Foreign Correspondents Association Purple Orchid Award for Best Film – Firaaq
2008 Government of France
2009 Kara Film Festival
  • Won – Best Film
2009 International Film Festival of Kerala
  • Won – Special Jury Award – Firaaq
2009 Thessaloniki International Film Festival
  • Won – Special Prize (Everyday Life: Transcendence or Reconciliation Award) – Firaaq
  • Nominated – Golden Alexander – Firaaq
2010 Filmfare Awards
2013 2nd South Indian International Movie Awards
  • Nominated—Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Neerparavai



Year Title Role Language(s) Notes
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 Oriya
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
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
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 English,
2016 Untitled Kutty Revathi Film TBA Tamil


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
2017 Manto Hindi


  1. ^ "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. 
  2. ^ "The Painter's Daughter". Outlook India. Retrieved 30 December 2009. 
  3. ^ "I am still searching for a place to call home". OPEN. Retrieved 13 August 2013. 
  4. ^ Khushwant, Singh (21 September 2009). "The Painter's Daughter". Outlook India. Retrieved 2 October 2015. 
  5. ^ Mendis, Isidore Domnick (23 June 2003). "Independent stardom". Business Line. Retrieved 20 June 2009. 
  6. ^ Saltz, Rachel (4 June 2009). "The Variety of Life, Real and Imagined, in Movie-Mad India". New York Times. Retrieved 20 June 2009. 
  7. ^ Nandita Das talks about her directorial debut Firaaq. Radio Sargam. 26 January 2009. 
  8. ^ "Nandita, Saumya remain friends". OneIndia. 2 August 2006. Retrieved 20 June 2009. 
  9. ^ "Her own person". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 19 December 2004. Retrieved 20 June 2009. 
  10. ^ 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. 
  11. ^ "Nandita Das is dating again". 21 November 2009. Retrieved 30 December 2009. 
  12. ^ Jha, Subhash K (6 January 2010). "Nandita Das marries, moves to Mumbai by SUBHASH K JHA". The Times of India. 
  13. ^ Lalwani, Vickey (12 August 2010). "It's a baby boy for Nandita!". Times of India. Retrieved 13 August 2010. 
  14. ^ "Nandita Das and husband Subodh Maskara split after seven years of marriage. Here's all the details". Indian Express. 3 January 2017. 
  15. ^ "Atheism is the religion for these filmi folk". The Times of India. 17 December 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2016. 
  16. ^ "iVolunteer Awards Celebrates Volunteering by Recognizing Volunteers". Retrieved 15 April 2013. 
  17. ^ Gautam, Savitha (27 September 2004). "Ms. Sense". The Hindu. Chennai, India. Retrieved 20 June 2009. 
  18. ^ "Profile of Chairperson". CFSI website. Archived from the original on 7 December 2010. 
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ Even within independent cinema there is a kind of populist independent cinema: Nandita Das – "The American Bazaar". 30 September 2014. 
  22. ^ India's unfair obsession with fair skin – "The Guardian". 14 August 2013. 
  23. ^ Why Nandita Das doesn't like being called 'dusky' – "Times of India". 30 July 2013. 
  24. ^

External linksEdit