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She is also cagey about disclosing the name of "this humungous, prestigious international film" that she had to refuse because her dates for Gandhi, My Father were blocked.

"That is something I lost out on and feel tremendously sad about, but besides that, the kind of roles I am getting is wonderful and I am in no hurry."

Neither does she feel that good actors are being bypassed by commercial Hindi cinema. She reasons that there is still a very distinct line between commercial and the other kind of cinema. Moreover, the confidence of a filmmaker hasn't yet reached a stage where s/he feels a not so popular actor can carry the film single handedly at the box office.

"There are a lot of mainstream heroines who are ready to go experimental now, so directors obviously want to play safe and bank on a star like Kareena Kapoor in Chameli or Raveena Tandon in Satta."

"But it is definitely working out too. Directors are banking on Irrfan which is great because he is a super actor. Konkana is incredible. Rahul Bose works very well."

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Photograph: Jewella C Miranda

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