Lisa Ray: My celebrity image and reality were never in sync with each other

Written by Priyanka Sharma
| Mumbai |

Published: May 6, 2020 4:31:56 pm

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lisa ray photosLisa Ray was last seen onscreen in Four More Shots Please season 2. (Photo: Lisa Ray/Instagram)

She is addressed with a lot of professional identities, but it’s the prefix ‘writer’ that feels home to Lisa Ray. It took her 20 years of modelling, acting across platforms and countries to reach, what she calls the most comfortable stage in her life. “I am a late bloomer in every single way,” she tells, after the release of her audio book, Close to the Bones, on Audible Suno recently.

Here are some excerpts from the interaction, where Lisa talks about the experience of narrating her life story, the joy of writing and how her celebrity image drained her out.

Q. You have said it was challenging to write your autobiography because you had to revisit several difficult moments in your life. So, was it harder to narrate your life story? Did it feel like living it all over again?

It was a very intimate and intense experience to narrate the book. Of course I am inclined to the side of openness, vulnerability and honesty. It wasn’t always like that but it has become my default. Writing a book is very different from reading it. I have to admit it was a great privilege to be able to give life to the narrative in a different way. There were two sides of me watching me as I narrated it. I was taking this journey during the narration.Songs Lyrics 4 you

I had to take a few breaks in between because it got emotionally heavy. And there was another part of me – the writer’s side-who was constantly nitpicking that why I used that word or that phrase. So these two things were going on, which were equally intense.

Q. With all the reviews, opinions and audience feedback towards Close to the Bones, do you feel any striking within?

More than any specific change, this reaction has been a wonderful affirmation that now I am genuinely listening to my inner voice or guidance, which is fulfilling one of my missions that is writing. The wonderful and incredible messages I get from readers is an affirmation that this is the path I want to take. And I always believed writing was the path for me but I didn’t have the guts before.

One of the benefits of releasing the book has been that I have found support in the writers’ community. There are many writers, whom I knew from afar, but now we are colleagues.

Q. In your book and many of your interviews, you have spoken about grappling with different identities. Today, would you say that professionally, you are most comfortable with the identity of a writer?

Yes. But that’s not surprising because my other professional identities were all accidental. That’s also the reason why I felt I had to take back my narrative, my story. Otherwise if I haven’t shared my story, you are going to assume that acting and being in front of the camera is something I aspired to do. Once you have the book, you will know that it (acting) was a kind of a serendipitous thing and I was always aspiring towards writing.

Of course I am grateful for the detour that my life took because it has certainly given me a lot of material to write in my book.

four more shots please season 2 lisa ray bani jLisa Ray and Bani J in a still from Four More Shots Please season 2. (Photo: Pritish Nandy Communications/Instagram)

Q. Even actors, whom films happen accidentally to, say it’s difficult to withdraw from the limelight and attention the universe of fiction offers them. So, was it easy for you to retract from that aspect of your life where you were admired and desired by thousands?

The struggle has been in finding my voice and receiving clarity. I have had many private struggles and my profession has been quite incidental and almost apart from the human side of Lisa. There was a celebrity image and then there was the real me. And the two were never in sync with each other.

And even as I pursue full time writing, I do occasional film projects. I have AR Rahman’s 99 coming up, then I did Four More Shots Please season two, where I had a lovely, juicy kind of character. I am very fortunate that I get such great projects. But at this stage – I am 47 – and I have seen so much that there’s no ‘What my would have been’ in my head. And that’s because in my life, I have dipped my toe into everything that I liked. I don’t feel unfulfilled from that point of view.

That’s why it’s easier for me to take a decision to take a step back from it, even though I am deeply appreciative of my profile in India. But I also had a career in Canada, which a lot of people in India don’t know about. And at the crux of it, there are two things. First, I am an introvert and it doesn’t look like it but I do get exhausted if I am constantly the centre of attention. Honestly, where I am right now suits me the best in terms of my nature. It’s relatively easy to give up something I never aspired to be.

Q. So, it must have been quite hard for you to deal with much attention when you worked as a model and actor in India.

It drove me crazy and I would get drained out and I didn’t know how to moderate attention, my life. I would work until I broke down emotionally and physically. Nobody taught me about self love, about prioritising self care and that’s something I have learnt only now. I am kind of a late bloomer in every way. Once you learn these principles and how essential they are to living, you can’t go back to the old way.

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