Jun 9, 2011

Lisa Ray set to dazzle Toronto with Taj

If she wasn’t an actress, Lisa Ray tells Suhaag that she’d be a writer. But that will have to wait; there’s just too much to do for the Toronto based actress who’s mainly known in India for  her sexy turn as Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s muse in the music video “Aafreen”. Already  well known for her advocacy  for cancer and stem cell medicine, Ray is also a business-owner. Her  Moksha Yoga studio opened  in Brampton recently.

Lisa Ray in Taj - Photo by Sid SawantRay, who has been practising yoga for years says that, “I believe Moksha Yoga helped me become a ‘Cancer Graduate’. I believe in the practise for its healing aspects and overall benefits. In the Moksha community we say: calm mind, fit body, inspired life. I have two great partners: Paris and Annette and we have created a beautiful space for people to come in and experience the benefits. I have loved bringing Moksha Yoga to Brampton!”

Moksha’s mantra of ‘inspired life’ certainly parallels Ray’s most recent project Taj, a dramatic dance theatre production from Lata Pada’s Sampradaya Dance Company premiering at the Luminato Festival on June 10.

On the cusp of the world première of Taj at the Luminato Festival, Lisa Ray tells Suhaag.com about her current project, and her future plans.

Suhaag.com (SU): After all that you have persevered through with regards to your health, what was it about a dance-theatre production that appealed to you to choose as your first acting project after treatment? And why Taj?

Lisa Ray (LR): This is an opportunity to translate one of the world’s most enduring love stories in the sacred space of the theatre- what’s not to love about this opportunity? Lata Pada is the extraordinary driving force behind this project and her passion was infectious. I’m working with Tom Diamond, Kabir Bedi, Kumudiniben: all luminaries in their fields. John Murrell- one of Canada’s foremost playwrights has written the script. And Luminato has commissioned the project. And working on stage is the most reliable way to ignite a performer’s creative juices. On top of everything- I get to work on my home turf. All the ingredients are there.

SU: What have been the most enjoyable and  challenging aspects about working on Taj?

LR: I look forward to getting up in the morning and showing up at rehearsals so much, I fear I’m having too much fun at times! Working with Tom and Kabir has been so stimulating. And retelling this epic story- from the perspective of an old man and his daughter, has been a profound experience. I play Jahanara, the eldest daughter of Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan. She gave up her life to look after her father after he was imprisoned by Aurangzeb his own son. It’s an epic tale which encompasses the depths of human feeling and emotion. The most challenging aspect? Commuting to Mississauga for rehearsals!

SU: What is it like to work with two great artists Kabir Bedi and Lata Pada?

LR: It’s an extraordinary opportunity to absorb and learn.

SU: Currently you are working on a dance theatre production, what have you learned from working on this kind of project?

LR: My role involves acting- we have talented dancers who are performing the dancing segments. I have thoroughly enjoyed this atmosphere of collaboration.

SU: After an audience watches Taj, what do you want them to take away after leaving the theatre?

LR: Tom Diamond, our director, shared a ‘word of the day’ with us the first day of rehearsal. The word is ‘creolise’. Broadly speaking it means, taking local and foreign elements and creating something new and exciting. That best describes what we are attempting with ‘Taj’ and in a way its the best word to describe Toronto!

SU: Do you have any plans to work on a project in Bollywood in the future?
LR: I recently completed work for a 6 part TLC series shot in India which goes on air  in July. So I have been working hard in India. It  is a great project and took four months to film. I’m open to the next phase of my career and waiting for a great film project.

SU: You have modeled, you’re an actress of great versatility, and now you’re a business-owner as well. What’s next for Lisa Ray?

LR: So many wonderful things on the boil. I will continue to challenge, stretch myself and also try to be of service. My advocacy for cancer and stem cell medicine is well known and I will continue to support a number of charitable efforts. Balance is important- I love my work, but I love my life as well. My relationships are what feed me.

(Source: Suhaag.com / Safa Zaki)

(Photo: Sid Sawant)

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