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Somy Ali recounts her journey to films; says her achievements in Bollywood still shock her

Actress Somy Ali, who was working as a top actress in Bollywood for quite a few years in the 90’s, now runs a US-based NGO called No More Te...

Actress Somy Ali, who was working as a top actress in Bollywood for quite a few years in the 90’s, now runs a US-based NGO called No More Tears. She says that while she is totally satisfied with her job today where she helps victims of domestic violence and rape, she wishes that she had a better understanding of the film industry when she was acting.

Talking about the people who helped her understand Bollywood, she says, “It's ironic and funny in a peculiar way because I developed a huge interest in my last film solely because I worked with Om Puriji. In fact, even Chintuji had a huge influence on me too. We never worked together, but in a single photoshoot, he taught me so much about life and the industry that it blew my mind. I wish my mind was fully developed and I was mature enough to comprehend the words coming from Chintuji and Omji. They were extremely worldly and cultured, similar to Amitji and Kakaji,” she says.

Somy says that watching Rekha on screen inspired her to enter this world. “It began from Rekhji when I was a kid and I saw her in Umrao Jaan, I had never seen a more beautiful woman in my life, and, to date, I feel the same way. Then came Naseer in Masoom along with Shabanaji, Smitaji, and Dipti Navalji, later came the likes of Vivek Oberoi, who was outstanding in his first film until he was murdered career-wise, thanks to the powerful and who assumed they were invincible. I love Manoj Bajpayee as an actor, Rahul Bose, all the artsy kind appeal to me because it's all real and the scripts are close to our real lives which makes these movies relatable unlike a grandiose persona depicted by some producers and directors. What Karan (Johar) has done with his career is short of words because I was very close to Manish and Karan when we were younger and all starting out. And, when I see them now, I am nothing short of bewildered by the success and the material they have produced and directed. I mean I can watch Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham and Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna hundreds of times and never get sick of them and they always make me cry,” she says.

Meanwhile, talking about her process of playing a character, she says, ''Well, it's rather simple as Brando put it, ‘We are always acting and playing a different character with whomever we are addressing.’ As for drawing real-life inspirations, having lived in three different countries and learning from the people helped a great deal to understand mankind. In the end, we all share one thing in common and that is death as morbid as it sounds, it's the absolute truth, but some people need to be reminded because they assume they are immortal. Coming back to portraying a role one picks up a person's idiosyncrasies and grabs onto them to use to their advantage for their role. No human is alike, we all have our vices and we share a balance of being good and bad which is still keeping this planet alive. Of course, we are not doing much when it comes to global warming, but it's tough because there are way too many issues in the world.”

However, her personal struggles were quite different from what she had to portray on screen, says Somy. “I was a spoiled 16-year-old brat living in a five-star hotel, playing scrabble with the staff and getting them fired. Films just happened to me, someone who had absolutely no inclination to learn or act or even try to get rid of her inhibitions, it still shocks me how I pulled off playing a lead with the biggest stars of the Hindi cinema. I mean to work with Chichi, Omji, Naseer, Prem uncle who was in Raj Kapoor movies, and Shakti, who is the complete opposite of his portrayal in films. He was a great friend and always encouraging just like Mithunda. So, call it luck, fate, destiny, or meant to be. We will never know!” she says.

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