Nicole Kidman only talks about Deepti Naval's saree at 'Lion' premiere in New York

Updated: Dec 02, 2016, 13:36 IST | Shaheen Parkar

Hollywood actress Nicole Kidman couldn't stop discussing Deepti Naval's six yards at the New York premiere of Garth Davis' Oscar hopeful drama, 'Lion'

Former US President Bill Clinton, Dev Patel, Sunny Pawar, Nicole Kidman and Deepti Naval; (right) Kidman; (right, top) Naval
Former US President Bill Clinton, Dev Patel, Sunny Pawar, Nicole Kidman and Deepti Naval; (right) Kidman; (right, top) Naval

When culture aficionados say India's heritage is a head turner, they are bang on. Last week, Hollywood star Nicole Kidman couldn't take her eyes off a black Chanderi saree with a broad gold border that actress Deepti Naval had draped for the New York premier of Garth Davis's Australian-American-British drama, Lion, a film that's turning into a conversation starter on the festival circuit. The actresses are co-stars in the film.

Nicole, who was dressed in a floral Rodate dress and Olivier Theyskens shoes, and carried an M2M bag, was keen to know about the 'fabric', says Deepti. "I chose a black and gold silk Chanderi by Sanjay Garg for the red carpet, and Nicole kept admiring it. She was rather fascinated, and asked about the designer. Interestingly, apart from the film, we spoke at length about the saree!"

Nicole Kidman and Deepti Naval
Nicole Kidman and Deepti Naval

About her role
Last seen in the Arjun Kapoor-starrer Tevar (2015), Deepti plays a social worker at a Kolkata orphanage, who helps unite the protagonist with his family. The film is touted to be an Oscar hopeful and is based on the book, A Long Way Home, by Saroo Brierley. The Nicole Kidman-Dev Patel-Rooney Mara-starrer is inspired by Brierley's own life. It's the story of an Indian boy adopted by an Australian family, and his search for his real parents using Google Earth. "He is reluctant to leave, but I coax him to allow his life to be altered," says Deepti of her character.

Meeting Bill Clinton
The premiere also saw the presence of former US President Bill Clinton, who Deepti says was kind to attend given "the tension post the recent elections". "He met each one of us and discussed our experiences of making of the film. I saw people in the audience gushing over him. He also spent some time speaking to Saroo (on whom the film is based) and his Australian foster parents, who were present at the screening."

Deepti was approached for Lion by Mumbai-based casting director Tess Joseph, "but it was director Garth Davis, who was keen on casting me," she says. "He emphasised that the role was crucial to the film as it triggered the turning point in little Saroo's life. I shot for my scenes in an old heritage building in Kolkata. When I first met Sunny [Pawar, who plays little Saroo] on the set, I thought, 'My God! Look at that face! Where did they find him?' Garth worked very closely with both of us and that was a lovely experience."

Deepti does not share screen space with Dev Patel, but his younger character, played by Sunny. "I met Dev after I had wrapped up my Kolkata shoot. He is such an animated human being," she says of the British actor of Indian origin, who became a popular face among Indian audiences with Slumdog Millionaire.

On the film's Oscar chances
"It certainly deserves an Oscar. The film leaves you choked. It is a heartwarming experience. There is this whole thing about adoption. Nicole also talks about it (she and ex husband Tom Cruise have two adopted children, Isabella and Connor). As for my own experience, I can relate to the subject since I too am mother to an adopted child (daughter Disha with ex husband Prakash Jha)."

Man behind the drape

Sanjay Garg, the designer behind the saree, says the piece belongs to his very first collection dating back to 2008.

"While the border is silk, the weft is cotton, which makes it drape beautifully around the body… it has a right balance between border and base," says the Delhi-based designer known to have made the Benarasi and Chanderi fashionable, with more than 450 craftsmen on board. Deepti, we hear, owns quite a few of Garg's creations, that are known to be conversation starters and have fans among the swish set.

When mid-day called him, Sanjay was surprised Nicole Kidman had inquired about his design. "For me, it's not about reaching out to America, but to customers in say, Nagpur. Design should offer solution, appeal to everyone without taking an elitist approach."
Shweta Shiware

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