The Healing: Manisha Koirala in conversation with Sanjoy K. Roy
‘Health is Wealth’ assumes vaster dimensions when heard from a supreme star who has lived through the sentimental quote. And when such a story is candidly narrated with assurance and humility, the audience can get drawn into an intimate sense of reality that can be both intimidating and encouraging.
‘Healing’ is the poignant life story of Bollywood actor Manisha Koirala, as she shares the highs and lows of her life, her career and her battle with ovarian cancer. The compelling presentation was perhaps one of the most personal and reflective sessions of JLF Houston, as the famous actress portrayed her celebrated life and shared it with the listeners, in an unpretentious manner. Born into an illustrious family of leaders and politicians, raised in luxury, sheltered as a princess without the struggles and vicissitudes of the commoners, she reached the pinnacle of fame as one of the most sought-after and highest award-winning Bollywood actresses. Unlike most who have to strive and hustle to enter a field like movies, and in spite of some apprehensions of a Koirala girl getting into a field of some questionable repute, Manisha was invited and accepted by Shekhar Kapur, one of the prominent directors in the industry. And with her stunning looks and inherent theatrical spark, she shot up to the acme of acting through role after role.
But malady struck her in a flurry, crudely and mercilessly. It was a sudden deviation, a swift, shifting of gears from superstardom to struggle for survival. The trip from gleaming movie scenes to the Sloan Kettering operating room, eleven hours of an elaborate surgery, the agonizing ordeals of chemotherapy and its cruel aftermath, and eventual recuperation reclaiming her life, were aspects enumerated by Manisha in her naturally outspoken manner. As she endured through shock and disbelief, switching from hope to hopelessness, her eternal optimism, a sheer defiance against being a victim, and an attitude of accepting defeat with dignity were perhaps her eventual saviors, in addition to abundant, endearing family support. She mentioned a particular incident where a cyclist on the road recognized her, and encouraged her to beat her nemesis and get back to life, as she was treading Mumbai streets with hesitation, hiding her baldness and her depleted beauty. That moment was a revelation for her.
Her forthright answers during the interview by Sanjoy Roy revealed the frailty of humanity, and a reality that through her optimistic approach and perseverance, Manisha Koirala overcame the ultimate challenge in her life. Whether ‘The Emperor of all Maladies’ helped her to discover the indomitable resilience in her or if her inherent, robust temperament got her over the dreadful illness is for up to the readers to surmise.