She is Deepti Naval, the actor, to the world. But she is also a painter, filmmaker and writer. However, when it came to putting together her recently released memoir, A Country Called Childhood, she chose to write about Dolly (her nickname as a child). “I’ve lived life on my own terms, as the cliché goes. Most of the time I have behaved very impractical, improvised and spontaneous,” says the 70-year-old.

She “has never really let go of that “sense of freedom” and states that the same “spirit is still inside her”. “When people call me the sweet girl next door, I don’t.” [relate to it since] I don’t have such a self-image. My self-image is completely opposite. I don’t know who the sweet girl next door is! It’s definitely not me,” added Naval, who is known for critically acclaimed films such as Chashme Buddoor (1981), Leela (2002), Listen… Amaya (2013), ao.

Cover of the memoir, published by Aleph Book Company.
Cover of the memoir, published by Aleph Book Company.

We all have both good and bad childhood memories, and so does Naval, who shares how “redeeming” it was to write down all the nostalgia of her childhood. “I wrote it because I wanted to pay tribute to my parents… I should have written this book 20 years ago; it’s a little late. But I may not have been able to write such a comprehensive account of my childhood (earlier) because with adulthood you can see how you felt as a child,” says Naval, who chooses to record nothing but one incident. change, of her life lived as a youngster. “I would never run away from home,” she jokes, confessing, “I would never do something so stupid! I was gone for a few hours and brought kaan pakad ke straight from the platform (laughs)… But yes, I would run away to Kashmir if given the chance! I would have tried to run away and go to Kashmir.”

Her writing has been appreciated in the past, experimenting with poetry and short stories. Before publishing the latter, she recalls making her then co-actor, the late Farooque Shaikh, her sounding board. Farooque was such an erudite man and forever a voracious reader. This (one) time we worked together after 30 odd years, I would run the final draft of the short story through Farooque over lunch. He was very happy to see my growth as a writer and had said ‘Pehle bhi padi thi tumahri nazmein, but this is way ahead… So this time while writing my memoir, I missed Farooque being there. He would have been so happy to see this book today because he has always encouraged me, and more as an actor,” Naval says, as her voice deepens.

Ask Naval, who was last seen in the 2021 OTT series Criminal law: behind closed doorsif she’d like to see her writing adapted for the screen, perhaps in the form of a web series, and she says, “I haven’t thought of it yet, but now that you bring it up, yeah, why not? I know my book is very visual.Like my short stories they were also visual…I’m not sure if it’s easy to translate them on celluloid.But yes, they are stories that need to be told in many ways, and I hope that they are told and then retold and passed down from reader to reader and to other generations.”

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