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Manisha Koirala on Her Stardom: I Felt Like an Automaton Reduced to Being a Pretty Face


After successfully battling cancer six years ago, actor Manisha Koirala has penned the most personal details of her eventful life—her stardom, downward spiral, cancer diagnosis and emerging victorious—in her autobiography Healed: How Cancer Gave Me a New Life.

Revealing how she was miserable at the height of her acting career, she writes in the book, “Even though the world was at my feet, I soon started feeling the misery of existence. I became wretched. I think it was during the shooting of Laawaris (1999) that I felt the pressure getting to me. I had been working non-stop till then. I was tired of this routine of getting up, putting on makeup, going out for location shooting, returning home exhausted and being constantly ‘on the go’.”

Discussing the toxicity of working non-stop even if it is in exotic countries with famous people, she adds, “Was I enjoying getting up at unearthly hours? Was I ecstatic about visiting so many countries? Was I appreciative of all these opportunities? No. I felt like an automaton, reduced to being a pretty face. I think that’s when my mind began to get toxic. Emotionally, I began to go into reverse.”

Koirala says she took to alcohol to numb herself, take her mind off shoots. “If I was on a diet, it would be vodka. I remember my ex-boyfriend once telling me that I had no sense of balance.”

Soon, her unhappiness started to show in her work and her choice of films. “I didn’t appreciate my work. I simply didn’t like it. Somewhere, in a contorted way, I began wilfully doing the wrong things. To spite myself, I chose the wrong films. I began feeding my ego. I insisted on being the central character, even if it was in a B-grade film. At that point, I did not even care who the director was. Getting a central role mattered more than anything else,” she writes.

However, Koirala says ever since she beat ovarian cancer, there has been a radical shift in her approach towards life and other things. On the professional front, she was last seen in Rajkumar Hirani’s blockbuster film Sanju and Netflix’s Lust Stories.

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