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Envy surrounds me in a thick, relentless fog as I sink into a lounge sofa. Eyes across the room are tinted an unforgiving green because of the woman across my table, the dazzling Nandana Sen.

Much as the actress may hate to admit it, headline attention has -- so far -- come her way largely because of her stellar family tree, her parents being Bengali writer Nabanita Dev Sen and Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen.

Currently, she is working on changing that, and the year will see her in varied avatars.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Black is her first Bollywood release, and she's very excited. She calls it "a pathbreaking film, both in terms of content and style." After waxing on the obvious merits of working with a "totally brilliant" director like Bhansali and co-stars like Rani Mukerji and Amitabh Bachchan, not to mention the original concept, Nandana sounds most excited about one specific reason for working on Black:

"As an actor, what made it really memorable and a valuable experience was the fact that I had to learn sign language for it. I always wanted to do that, and this film gave me the opportunity to!" Nandana learnt sign language for four months before Black commenced, and has kept up with it since.

"It was a breakthrough as an actor. I feel it would be a valuable experience for all actors to go through, to learn to express themselves with their body rather than words. We tend to rely on words too much." She started learning to sign when in college, but was forced to pick between that and Spanish, and a strong love for Latin American literature ensured the scales tilted in favour of the latter.

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Text: Raja Sen | Design: Uday Kuckian

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