Actress/Model/Theater Artist/ Passionate Cook
A Beautiful Enchanting Illusion. Maya.
This feisty ethereal beauty has a free spirit that is both alluring and endearing. She has the innocent charm of an exquisite flower that instantly draws you to her. And cross my heart I do not exaggerate.
I have seen this young teenager (she was barely thirteen when I first met her) blossom into a diva who is as humble as she is level headed.
Behold the dazzling beauty with a warm captivating smile, Maya kalsi.
“ So Maya what does your name mean?” I officially declare the interview open.
“ Ummm Maya means illusion. It means I can appear and disappear whenever I want”
She laughs like a mischievous child snapping her fingers for effect.
” Wow I wish I had such a gift too.” I join in.
“ I think Maya or illusion means fantasy. Everyone creates their own idea of a fantasy. It’s their perception of something which is not what it really is”
That’s very deep.
“ It’s a very magical name because everyone has their perception of me too but people don’t really know what I truly am. Even my close friends and those who know me from long don’t really know the real me” and she breaks down into peals of naughty laughter.
“ Undoubtedly a mysterious enchantress ! That’s what you truly are”
She winks at me prompting me to believe my words.
I ask her to tell us something about her interests and passions.
“ Oh! There’s a whole lot of them”
Why am I not surprised? “ I wonder aloud.
“ I love nature and swimming and cooking and by profession I’m a model and an actress though I prefer acting and theater more…”
I don’t have to prod her anymore as like a true actress she’s crossed over to the dream world of glam and glitz and it all pours out from within the depths of her heart..
“ I love my work. The whole glamour part of it , the dancing, the singing ,the clothes, the glitter, the hair, the make up … I love all of that. “ her eyes sparkle illuminating her palpable passion.
“ I also love to cook …I love mixing different ingredients and experimenting, creating new recipes..” she reveals coming out from her dream world .
“ And what is Maya’s signature recipe?”
“ Pasta Al fungi in white sauce” she doesn’t hesitate to answer this one.
I move on to the next question but not before self inviting myself to a treat of the delicious sounding pasta al fungi.
“ So how did you get into this world glitz and acting? How did you get your first break?”
“ Well Goa is very close to Mumbai and a lot of people from the Entertainment Industry and Bollywood come here to look for new faces and actors and even foreigners and there’s a whole lot of them here in Goa.”
“ I got my first assignment when I was nine . They were looking for foreigner kids for a Ginni and Johny advertisement, they spotted me on the beach and took my interview along with some others. And then I got a call from them a few weeks later informing me that I’d been selected!”
“ Wow getting your first assignment at the age of nine is commendable. So how was your experience ?Tell us more about your first stint with the glam world.”
“ It was all so very exciting. We were flown down to Mumbai in first class. We had nice hotels and we could order anything we wanted from room service ! and I had my own little private van …It was fun and so glamorous.” I can almost feel the thrill, the excitement of the nine year old getting a taste of the good things in life that too on her own merit.
“ I was in paradise and from that moment when I had my make up on I turned to my mom and said,” Mamma this is what I want to do for the rest of my life!” she laughs at the memory.
“ Prophetic words indeed “ I admire her confidence. Most of us don’t know what we really want to do even half way across our lives.
“Tell us something about some of the work you have done as a model, and as an actress. “
Her transformation from a bubbly ,carefree teenager to a serious pro is all too visible as she talks about the body of her work.
“ I’ve done a three month workshop with Sonia Jafar (a well known choreographer who rose to fame with the show jhalak dikhlaja) there were other instructers also who taught us acting and we did a theater play at kala academy called ‘ Raaz’.”
“ Do you think that theater is more difficult as compared to acting in a movie?” I’ve often heard stage artists saying so. I interrupt her midway.
“ It’s definitely more challenging when you are doing live theater .You need all your creative juices flowing as when you are on the stage you have that one performance and you have to perfect it at the first go, there are no retakes.”
“ True that and also the artists need to form a connect with the audience which I’m sure is not easy”
“Absolutely ,you need to involve them completely and improvise as well.”
“ Tell us more about your work”
“ I’ve also starred in two bilingual movies with dialogues in English and Konkani, both Goan productions . “ she informs us.
“One is Mogaan which is a love story between a foreigner and a local beach shack owner . I play his love interest and the plot is about what happens after I enter his life.”
“ The other is the movie MMS which is based on the true story of a local girl in Goa and the havoc unleashed in her life because of social media. It takes on a very relevant and sensitive issue of our times and tries to educate young people about the dangers of social media and technology and how it can be misused.”
I make a mental note of the movies and promise to see them.
“…and I’ve also done a few small roles in Bollywood movies like Mango, We are Family,.”
“ What about modelling, your second love, the first one of course being acting?”
“ Well I do a lot of photoshoots for a lot of designers specially those based in Goa.We have a lot of western designers here as well.”
“ I’ve worked with Monty Sally, Sparsha Deshpande,Ven and Katya Mermaid..”
“ So have you walked the ramp as well?”
“ I have, but I prefer doing photoshoots. In fact I’ve only walked the ramp thrice , once when I was starting out as a model and two other times where I was the show stopper” she clarifies.
“But it’s acting that is my greatest passion” she reasserts and professes her love for acting.
“ Are you planning to take some classes for acting specially for brushing up your Hindi diction…specially if you want to make a dent in Bollywood?” I ask, pointing out the natural accent she carries owing to her half British lineage.
“ Well yes I’m planning to move to Mumbai where I’ll be taking up some acting courses as well as concentrate on learning Marathi and refining my Hindi.”
She sure has clarity and determination which is an asset in this profession as well as in all others.
(Hey have I told you this interesting bit about Maya’s mixed lineage yet? Guess not.
Maya’s mother, Bhagvati Nath is from Britian . An exceptional painter and an outright naturalist, she made India her home when she married Maya’s father and came to live with him at Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh where they ran an ashram together.
(The gifted and truly talented Bhagvati merits a feature of her own and we shall surely have the spotlight on her fascinating and inspiring life story.)
“ Do you feel like a foreigner in India? Do you feel more of an Indian or more of a British?” I suddenly ask Maya, curious to know what she thinks about her mixed roots.
“ I feel I’m international. I cannot truly say that I’m an Indian or a foreigner because I’m a little bit of both.”
“ I grew up in Goa with friends and neighbours from all over the world surrounded by different languages and different cultures across the globe.”
“ I don’t have the specific beliefs of an Indian and I don’t have the specific beliefs of a Westener. I’m a unique combination of both which is very special. I don’t want to even classify myself as either one of them.”
“ But I love my Indian roots and have a very strong connect with my country. At the same time I admire Western culture as well. So I’d like to take the best of both the worlds.”
“ Have you encountered any problems on account of being a young girl growing up in India specially on account of your fair skin or otherwise?”
“ Ah yes! Unfortunately everyone has a very wrong impression of Goa being a place where you party and do drugs and where the girls are easily available…which is a far cry from the reality.”
And then she goes on to recount the harassment faced by women, specially foreigners on the beaches of Goa that amply highlights the typical Indian male mindset
“ It’s very annoying and disgusting when men stare at you unabashedly when you are at the beach. I dread to wear a bikini anymore now. If you are in the water, these lechers wait for you to come out and will keep waiting not taking off their eyes from you once. And when you give up and do come out they run their eyes over your body like an X ray machine. It is appalling. Our friends from abroad who are not used to such behavior carry a very poor impression of our culture back home.”
“ It’s also difficult venturing out alone. If I’m on the bike I keep getting called on, I’ve become immune to remarks like ‘hey sexy’ now”
“ So how do you deal with it?”
“ I’ve simply learnt to ignore them like they do not exist.”
That’s another important issue, we women have learnt to ignore eve teasing which only emboldens the men. But it’s too risky to take them on too, for who knows they might retaliate with an acid attack or worse. Girls are still so vulnerable in our country and don’t know how to tackle this menace.
“ I will never travel alone in India , even though I really want to explore, it’s simply not safe. This kills the spirit of adventure in women.”
“ Do you think it’s important for women to pursue their skills and talents? What would you like to say to them?”
“ Everyone should experiment and discover what they are passionate about and what makes them happy for in the end we are really by ourselves. If we are bored or miserable then it means something is not right and it should not be so.”
“ You have only one life and it should be a beautiful one”
Her thoughts are as beautiful as her.
“ What do you think about thebitches platform?”
“ I think it’s a fantastic idea which gives young people like me, creative ones, artists, writers a wonderful platform to be known and seen by others, support each other, know about the amazing women in our community and to form connections. Together we can do amazing things as a community.”
“ Women rule. Girls rule. And together we can do something great. And you have my full support”
Support is the very hallmark of thebitches and I thank Maya for her unconditional and dedicated support for this initiative .
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