Indira Tiwari; the emerging new star of Bollywood 

PHOTO: Rahul Sawant

Method actor, Indira Tiwari, is an NSD prodigy. Top filmmakers have expressed their desire to work with her

Indira Tiwari stands out in a group of people. She’s the newest method actor in the film industry. A National School of Drama (NSD)—Delhi prodigy, Indira grew up in Bhopal. Though she has been a professional performer since the age of 9, her life transformed after she graduated from the NSD in 2018. 

Even before she joined NSD in 2015, she was already a method actor, a painter, and an artist of local fame. In 2008, was awarded the Bal Shri—a recognition bestowed by the President of India to an exceptional talent of a wunderkind. She has even acted in the movie Aarakshan as a child artist with Amitabh Bachchan.  

Indira did not have a rosy childhood, she lost her father as a child—has no recollection of his face. Her mother, Dolly Tiwari is her pillar of strength and support system along with her younger sister Aishwarya—a budding writer with a published book to her credit. “I didn’t feel the vacuum, my mother was as sufficient as both the parents,” she says with conviction.  

Having lived in Bhopal, considered a safer city than Delhi,  her mother had apprehensions, and was not in favour of Indira shifting to Delhi. For the first time, she was on her own. NSD takes care of the needs of the students, “felt like getting into the national cricket team—they’ll manage everything,”Indira quips. 

She had no delusion that she was here to learn and not to perform or boast about her past. Since she was a professional in her own right, she had a lot of unlearning to do before she could start learning. “You can’t learn if you’re like a “Bhara Bartan (a stuffed utensil).” She made up her mind at the very beginning—she will listen more and talk less; it’s good not to agree all the time but always try to appreciate others’ points of view rather than expounding one’s own. During NSD days, despite keeping a low profile, her presence was fairly conspicuous and her confidence alluring.   

Not many were surprised when soon after she graduated, got a break as the lead actor in a film called Nazarband directed by Suman Mukhopadhyay—and that too without a screen test. The film won critical acclaim and was showcased at the Busan, and India Film festivals in London and New York. Soon she did another feature film titled Srishti. It was selected for Mumbai Academy of Moving Image (MAMI) film festival 2020 in the ‘India Story’ category.

A little over a couple of years ago, she travelled to Mumbai to discuss a role offered for a serial by a reputed production house, though she wasn’t particularly interested in the offer. It didn’t work out but destiny had something better in store. 

Indira Tiwari with veteran filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali

‘A chance encounter with an acquaintance and an admirer of her work during the NSD days in Mumbai was momentous. He advised her to use this trip as an opportunity to meet filmmakers to seek a role of her choice. He shared numbers of as many as ten casting directors including that of Mukesh Chabbra–who connected her to Sudhir Mishra–and Shruti Mahajan who got her a role in Gangubai Kathiawadi–an upcoming biographical crime film. She was offered the lead female role after a screen test in the critically acclaimed Netflix series Serious Men directed by Sudhir Mishra. As they say—the rest is history.’

There was no looking back for Indira. A couple of days ago she finished shooting for a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film—playing a pivotal role. She is not supposed to discuss the details, but couldn’t contain her happiness, “It’s a dream come true.” 

Things are happening for her, it seems through divine providence. Blessed with an uncanny knack to get into the character she portrays, Indira has a strong screen presence. And her sudden date with stardom hasn’t changed her ‘raw appeal.’ 

Sudhir Mishra took her to a Diwali party hosted by Amitabh Bachchan in 2019. “I was the only one unknown there,” she says, perhaps, that’s why she was conspicuous—dressed in a black saree with a golden border. The celebrities present took note of her, enquired about her. Sanjay Leela Bhansali complimented her performance. She had a conversation with the host—the Big B—and presented him with a copy of the book authored by her sister. 

But the highlight of that evening was a 20 minutes conversation with Shahrukh Khan—fellow alumni of NSD. “He makes you feel so important. For those twenty minutes, no one else mattered—his entire attention was on having a conversation with me,” she recollects with a sparkle in her eyes. 

A quality that sets Indira apart from any other newcomers is that she’s very comfortable in her own skin, is fearless in the face of uncertainty—thanks to her mother’s influence—does her part diligently. She feels no need to change herself to meet the unwritten codes of the glamour world. She’s not a social butterfly—unless the character she’s playing demands so. 

Indira is a breath of fresh air that makes her stand out in a crowd of performers. Top filmmakers have expressed the desire to work with her to realise her true potential—this includes Anurag Kashyap. This is just the beginning of the making of a great actor.

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