Born on April 4, 1972, in Toronto, Canada, Lisa Ray grew up in Trudeau-era multiculturalism as her father is Bengali and her mother is Polish. Being half Bengali, Lisa Ray spent her early childhood in Kolkata. She has fond memories of the city. (All pictures courtesy/Lisa Ray's Instagram account @lisaraniray)
Before starting her career in Bollywood, Lisa Ray has spent a decade shuttling between India, London, Paris and Toronto. While she was a sought-after model in India, she simultaneously studied acting in London.
Lisa Ray first came to public attention when she appeared in an advertisement for Bombay Dyeing wearing a high-cut black swimsuit in the 1990s opposite Karan Kapoor.
In 1996, Lisa Ray appeared in Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's Afreen Afreen. Her breath-taking beauty grabbed eyeballs.
In the same year, she made her acting debut with Tamil film Nethaaji. However, her career in the Tamil film industry did not take off and Lisa never tried her hands later.
Five years later, in 2001, Lisa Ray made her Bollywood debut with Mukesh Bhatt's Kasoor. She was paired opposite Aftab Shivdasani and very few know that Lisa's voice was dubbed by seasoned actress Divya Dutta.
She later tried her hands in the Telugu film industry. Lisa starred in Takkari Donga (2002) which also starred Mahesh Babu and Bipasha Basu.
In 2002, Lisa Ray starred in Bollywood/Hollywood, a Canadian rom-com, directed by Deepa Mehta. She was paired opposite Rahul Khanna and the duo's song 'Rang Rang Mere Rang Mein' became very popular.
Lisa Ray likes to take risks and says she enjoys playing unusual characters. "Anyone who has looked at my acting choices over the years, not only in India but abroad, would recognise that I'm a risk taker and I enjoy unusual characters. It's in my blood -- I don't have the capacity to just play safe. I had to leave India in the early 2000s to find interesting content in independent films. Now the content I enjoy watching has been planted and is beginning to take root in India," she said.
At this stage of her work life, she doesn't take on work out of need. "I want to be a part of something that stands for something: for change, for authentic characters and storytelling. And for fun! I've been fortunate over my career to work with strong female directors like Deepa Mehta, Shamim Sarif and now Anu Menon."
After Bollywood/Hollywood, Lisa Ray collaborated with Deepa Mehta for films such as Cooking With Stella and Water (a critically acclaimed film).
In 2009, Lisa Ray was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the white blood cells known as plasma cells, which produce antibodies. A year later, she announced that she was cancer-free, after a stem cell transplant.
Lisa Ray likes to call herself a cancer graduate after surviving the disease. She said that she never feared over her looks after chemotherapy sessions.
Lisa believes her appearance is not a source of insecurity for her. "When you are fighting for your life, everything comes second. And then when you are better, you realise how much energy and time we waste in life thinking about insignificant things. My appearance is not a source of insecurity. I have shaved my head for 'Water' and I appeared on the cover of a magazine bald. It's not a big deal," Lisa said in an interview.
On being looked at as an inspiration for the youth, Lisa Ray said, "So many people supported me when I went through cancer, prayed and sent me messages. The least I can do is pay it forward. It is so important to speak openly about cancer and reduce the fear factor. I am humbled and hope I can continue to serve in some small way."
Lisa has also been involved in drawing people's attention towards girl child rights around the world, apart from initiating a number of fundraisers and campaigns for multiple myeloma. She feels women cancer patients are stigmatised in certain sections of society.
Lisa Ray made a comeback in Hindi filmdom in 2016 with Ishq Forever. Did you know? Lisa Ray was given real guns for the action scenes in her comeback film, Ishq Forever? She was later seen in films like Veerappan and Dobaraa.
Lisa Ray has also dabbled in poetry. Sample this one she posted on Instagram, "Give it away. My heart whispers... No. They do me the kindness to not say, 'You fool'. But my shoulders are narrow built. Neither fortune nor pain can rest here"
Lisa Ray has even started posting poems under the moniker @protestpoet. She had revealed in a an interview with mid-day that she read Dickens and Dostoyevsky before her teens. Herman Hesse and Camus spoke to her teenage existentialist angst.
In 2018, Lisa Ray had announced that she is penning her life story for a memoir, which will be out in the summer of 2019. She will be publishing the book with HarperCollins India.
Talking about her memoir, she said, "I am both nervous and excited about the publication of my memoir. Writing my story has transported me through a myriad of experiences and worlds, and the emotions of a life lived close to the bone."
The yet untitled memoir promises to be an unflinching and deeply moving account of Lisa's nomadic existence: her entry into the Indian entertainment industry; her relationship with her Bengali father and Polish mother; movie sets and the Oscars with her nominated film "Water"; her battle with eating disorder; being diagnosed with multiple myeloma; her spiritual quest; and the heartaches and triumphs of her journey.
In 2018, Lisa Ray surprised everyone with the news of becoming a mother of twins through surrogacy.
"I've been working on my memoir for a long time and, after the birth of my twins, it feels like my third baby... It's hard to tell your own story authentically without unwavering support. I hope this will be the first of many more stories I have to share," she said.
Lisa Ray, who wed management consultant Jason Dehni on October 20, 2012, revealed the reason she opted for surrogacy and not the traditional way of carrying the babies in her womb.
She said in a statement, "Having been diagnosed with multiple myeloma (a form of blood cancer) in 2009, which requires me to be on a lifelong dose of medication, pre-empted the possibility for me to carry children myself. Fortunately, technology has progressed where there are choices and new possibilities for having children."
She further added, "My husband and I decided to pursue surrogacy. India was the obvious choice. We consulted a reputed fertility doctor, but a week before we could begin, India outlawed commercial surrogacy. We were crushed. While I understand the pressing need to regulate the industry and prevent exploitation of surrogate mothers, it was a case of literally throwing out the baby with the bath water. But, I was determined. My husband and I were advised we could continue the process in India and that there were 'ways'. But we did not want to bring our children into the world under a cloud of uncertainty."
She named her daughters Sufi — the mystic — and Soleil — the French word for 'sun'. Lisa refers to the duo as Souffle.
Recently, Lisa Ray was seen in the web-series 'Four More Shots Please!'. She said she started her career at the young age of 16. Now at 47, she wants to prioritise her health and balance her life. "Work is great but I hope you know by now I do other things besides acting," she said.
Here's wishing a very happy birthday to Lisa Ray!
It's Indo-Canadian actress Lisa Ray's birthday today. Lisa, who was last seen in web-series 'Four More Shots Please!', is now a mother of two. But looking at these pictures, that Lisa shared on her Instagram account, it's hard to believe that she turned 47 today. Don't you agree with us?
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