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Nandita Das (born 7 November 1969) is an A-list actor and director, and one of the leading celebrities in the Indian film industry. She has acted in more than 40 feature films in ten different languages. Das has been acclaimed 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 was with Firaaq (2008), which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, traveled to more than 50 festivals, and won more than 20 awards.

Nandita Das
Nandita Das (1).jpg
Portrait photograph of Nandita Das. Photographer unknown
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

Das has twice served on the jury of Cannes Film Festival. In 2005, she served on the main competition jury alongside Faith Akin, Javier Bardem, Salma Hayek, Benoît Jacquot, Emir Kusturica, Toni Morrison, Agnès Varda, and John Woo.[1] In 2013, she served on the Cinéfondation and short films jury alongside Jane Campion, Maji-da Abdi, Nicoletta Braschi, and Semih Kaplanoğlu.[2]

Das has been honoured by the Government of France with the Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters), one of the nation's highest civilian awards, given to her in 2011.[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 is the first Indian inducted into the International Hall of Fame of the International Women's Forum (based 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 who has shown us what both feet-on-the-floor authenticity looks like and how keeping your values in focus and applying your talent can fuel women and the world forward."[7][8][9][10] Her fellow inductees were Anna Fendi, Heidi Klum, and Madam Chen Zhili.[11]


Early life and educationEdit

Das's father is Jatin Das, one of India's most distinguished artists, and her mother is Varsha Das, a writer.[12] Das is of Odia descent on her father's side, and of Gujarati descent on her mother’s side. She has a younger brother who works as a creative designer. Das was born in Mumbai and grew up mostly in Delhi,[13] where she was schooled at the Sardar Patel Vidyalaya.[14] She received her bachelor's degree in Geography from Miranda House and a Master of Social Work from the Delhi School of Social Work, both affiliated with the University of Delhi.[15]

Nandita Das was a Yale World Fellow in 2014.[16] She was one of 16 emerging global leaders chosen from nearly 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 has acted in over 40 feature films in ten different languages with many eminent directors, including Mrinal Sen, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Shyam Benegal, Deepa Mehta, and Mani Ratnam. She began her acting career with the theatre group Jana Natya Manch. She has taught at the Rishi Valley School.

Das 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 acted in films in ten different languages: English, Hindi, Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Marathi, Oriya, and Kannada. The movie star Sukanya provided Das's 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. [clarification needed]


In 2008, she completed filming her directorial debut, Firaaq.[17] 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".[18]

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.[19] The couple began Leapfrog, a media organisation geared towards making socially conscious ad films.[20] The couple divorced in 2007.[21][not in citation given] After dating Subodh Maskara, a Mumbai industrialist, for a couple of months, she married him on 2 January 2010 and moved to Mumbai.[22][23] Das and Maskara have a son named Vihaan.[24] In January 2017, the couple announced that they have parted ways.[25]

Das has remained an atheist throughout her life.[26]


With a master's degree in Social Work from the University of Delhi, Nandita Das is renowned as a passionate advocate of social justice and human rights. Among the causes she supports are children's rights, AIDS awareness, and ending violence against women.[27] In 2009, Das was appointed Chairperson of the Children's Film Society of India.[28] In 2012, she served as the guest of honour at the iVolunteer Awards, held in Mumbai.[29] Das was one of the petitioners who sought mercy for Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab involved in Mumbai 26/11 terror attack.[30] Das also donated to the launch of the investigative journalism magazine Tehelka, founded by Tarun Tejpal.[31]

Dark is Beautiful campaignEdit

Nandita Das became the face of the Dark is Beautiful campaign in 2013. Launched by Women of Worth in 2009, this campaign draws attention to the unjust effects of skin colour bias in India. This bias in favour of light skin impacts Indians in areas like marriage, employment, and general prestige and respectability. The bias has been shaped by at least two factors: (1) class and caste, with upper classes and castes, especially the highest caste, Brahmins, linked (whether real or imagined) with light skin; and (2) the history of white European colonization in India, especially British colonization, which ended in 1947. The Dark is Beautiful campaign urges women and men to celebrate the beauty and diversity of all skin tones, using slogans such as "Stay UNfair, Stay Beautiful."[32] Das has stated: "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."[33]

Speaking engagementsEdit

Nandita Das has been a featured speaker at various platforms in India and around the world. Among her numerous talks at universities, she has spoken at MIT (in 2007, after a screening of Fire) and at Tufts University (in 2014, on gender in society and cinema).

TEDx TalksEdit

Nandita Das has delivered two TEDx talks. In 2016, she spoke at TEDxWalledCity on "The Biggest Hypocrisy of Our Times: Our Attitude to Poverty." In 2011, she spoke at TEDxNarimanPoint, on "Transformation in Education."


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. ^ "2005 Cannes Film Festival". Wikipedia. 2017-12-25. 
  2. ^ "2013 Cannes Film Festival". Wikipedia. 2017-12-07. 
  3. ^ Ians (2011-04-16). "French honour for Nandita Das". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2018-01-13. 
  4. ^ "Distinction conferred on Actor-Director Nandita Das, 2011". La France en Inde / France in India. Retrieved 2018-01-13. 
  5. ^ "Philatelic issues related to Nandita Das issued by Foreign Countries". Retrieved 2018-01-13. 
  6. ^ Taber, Kimberly Conniff (2007-10-31). "Titouan Lamazou: His vision of women around the world". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-01-13. 
  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 2018-01-13. 
  9. ^ "Nandita Das in IWF's International Hall of Fame | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis". dna. 2011-10-29. Retrieved 2018-01-13. 
  10. ^ "International Women's Forum Programs". International Women's Forum. Retrieved 2018-01-13. 
  11. ^ "International Women's Forum Brochure" (PDF). 
  12. ^ "The Painter's Daughter". Outlook India. Retrieved 30 December 2009. 
  13. ^ "I am still searching for a place to call home". OPEN. Retrieved 13 August 2013. 
  14. ^ Khushwant, Singh (21 September 2009). "The Painter's Daughter". Outlook India. Retrieved 2 October 2015. 
  15. ^ Mendis, Isidore Domnick (23 June 2003). "Independent stardom". Business Line. Retrieved 20 June 2009. 
  16. ^ "Nandita Das | Yale Greenberg World Fellows". Retrieved 2018-01-13. 
  17. ^ Saltz, Rachel (4 June 2009). "The Variety of Life, Real and Imagined, in Movie-Mad India". New York Times. Retrieved 20 June 2009. 
  18. ^ Nandita Das talks about her directorial debut Firaaq. Radio Sargam. 26 January 2009. 
  19. ^ "Nandita, Saumya remain friends". OneIndia. 2 August 2006. Archived from the original on 8 July 2012. Retrieved 20 June 2009. 
  20. ^ "Her own person". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 19 December 2004. Retrieved 20 June 2009. 
  21. ^ 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. 
  22. ^ "Nandita Das is dating again". 21 November 2009. Retrieved 30 December 2009. 
  23. ^ Jha, Subhash K (6 January 2010). "Nandita Das marries, moves to Mumbai by SUBHASH K JHA". The Times of India. 
  24. ^ Lalwani, Vickey (12 August 2010). "It's a baby boy for Nandita!". Times of India. Retrieved 13 August 2010. 
  25. ^ "Nandita Das and husband Subodh Maskara split after seven years of marriage. Here's all the details". Indian Express. 3 January 2017. 
  26. ^ "Atheism is the religion for these filmi folk". The Times of India. 17 December 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2016. 
  27. ^ Gautam, Savitha (27 September 2004). "Ms. Sense". The Hindu. Chennai, India. Retrieved 20 June 2009. 
  28. ^ "Profile of Chairperson". CFSI website. Archived from the original on 7 December 2010. 
  29. ^ "iVolunteer Awards Celebrates Volunteering by Recognizing Volunteers". Retrieved 15 April 2013. 
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^ Women, Respect. "Stay UNfair, Stay Beautiful!". Retrieved 2018-01-13. 
  33. ^ Even within independent cinema there is a kind of populist independent cinema: Nandita Das – "The American Bazaar". 30 September 2014. 

External linksEdit