An interview with Tisca Chopra on her book ‘Acting Smart’ and a giveaway

TiscaSo, the lovely Tisca Chopra surprises us yet again, and this time it is a completely unexpected role we see her in, that of an author. Her book, Acting Smart, is the newbie’s guide to entering Bollywood, replete with anecdotes and advice, tried and tested tips from insiders in Bollywood, written in a fabulous conversational, witty style that makes it a breeze to read.


So here, without much ado, is a short q&a with Tisca on her book.

Starting off with the obvious one, what motivated you to write this book? Did you see a need for a book like this?

I don’t think anybody’s made more mistakes than me in the business. I fell and fell hard on my nose many times and had to find ways of righting the wrongs. Or start from scratch again. Often I wished for some basic pointers and then I figured there were none. So that was how it began.

How did the writing bug bite you? And why non-fiction to begin with? How long was this book in the writing?

Everyone in my family was fairly surprised when I decided to ‘act’ professionally. There was a common understanding that I would be a writer of sorts or a journalist like Christiane Amanpour. I have always had a great interest in reading fiction and playing fictional characters but no talent for writing fiction. My husband has that gift, but I can write the factual in an interesting manner. Also the film business is full of so many quirky people and such screwball scenarios.
I was at it, writing this book for about four years. Every time I thought it was done, I had fresh insights from new co-actors, each shoot just threw up so many anecdotes. At some point I had to say.. Ok, that’s it.

You have peppered the book with amusing anecdotes and practical advice, all based on your experience in the film industry as well as that of other established folks. How did you sift through which anecdotes you would use and discard from the lot you must surely have gathered?

Oh well.. where I felt it would offend anyone I’ve kept names out, but I was amazed how candid my fellow actors and directors were about the experiences they have had. Anil Kapoor for example shared his experiences with such genuineness that I have kept that recording just to listen to it later and motivate myself. Anurag Kashyap and Imtiaz Ali were a hoot to interview. They spoke about the common mistakes actors make. The wealth of experience that Shabana Azmi brought to the book is unbelievable.
Actually, I had a blast writing ‘Acting Smart’ because I got to spend so many fun evenings making new friends. And learnt so much in the process about the inner workings of the lives of so many splendid creative minds.

What is the main take away you want anyone who reads this book to have?

First, they need to have fun, I did not write anything that would constitute a work of great literature. I am not looking to win the Booker or any other writing award. Secondly, the aam aadmi has so may questions about films; FAQs such as what happens to the clothes after shooting, don’t you get bored doing take after take, why does it take so long to make a film and finally of course, does the casting couch exist? And finally, for aspiring actors it’s a sort of tell-all from the mouths of many excellent professionals- Shabana Azmi, Anil Kapoor, Boman Irani and many others. So it should hopefully serve as a basic guide.

Are we going to see more books from you? How is the author cap fitting for size?

Early days yet, so I don’t really know how the cap fits. However, I have always been promiscuous with my ambitions, I want to do many things and I am glad that the book is out of my system. So are my friends actually, because ever time I’d had enough of them, I’d have the perfect exit – I’d lock myself away and surf the net, while pretending to be a serious author.
Now I want to make a film.

And finally, who are the authors you love, the books on your bedside, the books you return to over and over again?

I am a self help book addict & ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ is on my bedside. As also a stack of Asterix & TinTin. I also loved ‘The God Delusion’, ‘Blink’ & ‘The Outliers’.
I loved reading your book Kiran, can’t actually wait for your next!

And wait, we have more, *drum rolls*. A giveaway. The most interesting question posed to Tisca in the comments section of this blogpost will receive a personalised autographed copy of the book. Quick, ask her your questions. The giveaway closes on Feb 28 and Tisca will choose a winner in the first week of March.


About Kiran Manral

Kiran Manral published her first book, The Reluctant Detective in 2011. Since then, she has published eight books across genres till date. Her books include romance and chicklit with Once Upon A Crush (2014), All Aboard (2015), Saving Maya (2017); horror with The Face at the Window (2016) and nonfiction with Karmic Kids (2015), A Boy’s Guide to Growing Up (2016) and True Love Stories (2017). Her short stories have been published on Juggernaut, in magazines like Verve and Cosmopolitan, and have been part of anthologies like Chicken Soup for the Soul, Have a Safe Journey (2017) and Boo (2017). Her articles and columns have appeared in the Times of India, Tehelka, DNA, Yowoto, Shethepeople, New Woman, Femina, Verve, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Conde Nast Traveller, DB Post, The Telegraph, the Asian Age, iDiva, TheDailyO and more. She was shortlisted for the Femina Women Awards 2017 for Literary Contribution. She is a TEDx speaker and a mentor with Vital Voices Global Mentoring Walk 2017.
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35 Responses to An interview with Tisca Chopra on her book ‘Acting Smart’ and a giveaway

  1. Nischala says:

    Kiran – Loved this interview as I’m a fan of Tisca. Thanks for posting!
    Congrats Tisca on your book. I love your acting and honestly believe you are a phenomenally talented, beautiful and awesome actress :)… these words in your interview struck a chord with me “I fell and fell hard on my nose many times and had to find ways of righting the wrongs”. I’m wondering in Bollywood or otherwise is it critical to right the wrongs always? May be sometimes the wrongs are right for us. Also is it harder in Bollywood to right the wrongs because of the way the industry is, i.e., a lot depends on public perceptions (general public and industry-walas) and that is the hardest sometimes to change. Good luck for your book and everything else in life..


    • tisca says:

      Thank Nischala! Yep, public perception is hard to change but harder still is to change ones own… since having gained acceptability it’s hard for actors to venture into new terrain and risk losing what positioning they already have – T


  2. Khan Mukhtar says:

    Dear Tisca Chopra,what could be your ratings when your talents are counted as an actress, a TV artist an model a house wife a mother and now as a budding author and which one will you like the most to act as? With warm regards


  3. BlogwatiG says:

    Dear Tisca,

    Firstly, congratulations on your debut as an author. I am quite looking forward to reading ‘Acting Smart’. Kudos on the apt title, too.

    From a ‘heroine’ (Platform) to an onscreen mother( Taare Zameen Par), you made a transition which many would not have. Yes, it was an Aamir Khan movie, but, what I am talking about is your decision to alter your ‘life path’. God knows, we have actresses who shudder to play the role of a ‘mother’, where the protagonist was a child. Yet, you did it and your desperation tugged the hearts of the nation. You also have freely dabbled in television and theatre, now books.

    My question to you is this. Do you think media is waking up to well etched characters, irrespective of the medium? Or is it just a marketing eyewash?


    • tisca says:

      Thanks Blogwati.. great question! Sure the media is waking up, they don’t have a choice but to. As more nuanced films start doing well at the multiplexes and raking in the moolah, the media pundits will stand up and applaud. As in Lunch Box, Queen etc.
      P.S. Love your nom de plume!
      – T


  4. Bandra BOW says:

    Kiran – i have only one question for you – when is that next book of your coming ?


  5. aditi says:

    Hi Tisca,
    Simply love the way you act and would love to read your book.I wanted to know whether the actors about whom we always hear that they are the kindest…with a heart of gold from almost everyone associated with movies but we see them get away with atrocious behaviour…which picture is true ?because I could never understand how a kind helpful person can be so rough and cruel ?


    • tisca says:

      Dear Aditi, actors are people too, they have their good and bad days. The media has a party time when an actor messes up. Thats all. – T


  6. Sri says:

    Hi Tisca

    In the year 2013, we saw mass movies like Chennai Express and Dhoom make a lot of money despite the critics not liking them..but we also saw some lovely movies like the Lunchbox and Ship of Theseus get a lot of appreciation…two great actors Irrfan Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui came into the limelight last year…Do you think the Indian audiences have become more discerning? Will they ever reject a dumb movie even if it has big stars in it? Does content matter even today?


  7. aastha jain says:

    Hey mam,

    Did reading your husbands book motivate you to write ‘acting smart’ ?? Did he help u in the writing process???

    Lots of love to u.


  8. Mohit Mehta says:

    You are niece of famous author/columnist Mr. Khushwant singh, any inspiration/talk from him about writing?


    • tisca says:

      Of course… always the best, Khushi uncle, he inspired not just via his writing but by the way he lived- honest to the bone. RIP Khushwant Singh


  9. Sue says:

    A lovely interview K, and I’m looking forward to reading the book now.

    My question to Ms Chopra. is related to that last little throwaway sentence at the end about a possible movie she wants to make: are you looking to write and/or direct? I’m a fan of your acting, so I would look forward to a movie you’d written or directed etc. All the best with the book.


  10. Avelino Dsouza says:

    Dear Tisca,
    Which actor you think you MISSED out on to include in your book,which could make your book ACTING SMART….more smarter and intresting. Wish you all the best for it…you touch the sky…aur TAARE ZAMEEN PAR ho! And within 24 hours I own the book “AS”….ASap.


  11. Indu says:

    Lovely interview , K . I am a big fan of you both 🙂

    My question to Ms.Chopra would be – I am a big fan of both Christiane Amanpour and Ms.Chopra. How about Ms.Chopra directing and essaying the character like Christiane Amanpour in that said movie? The more I think about it, I think she can essay the role the best.


  12. dipali says:

    Sounds like a terrific book. I have always loved Tisca Chopra as an actor- she is amazingly credible in every single role I’ve seen her in.
    Weird question: Did you think your character needed to die in 24?


  13. viral shah says:

    I am sure this book will be termed as “dummies for entering bolywood.” Sure to read it.


  14. @tiscatime Hi Tisca. 🙂 What is your favorite film that you have made? I’m from Philippines, hoping to have a copy of your book. 🙂


  15. Kiran Manral says:

    Everyone, thank you for your patience, Tisca will decide her winner soon.


  16. tisca says:

    Hi..the fantastic K has asked super questions and all of you have added to that.. am choosing Blogwati, Nischala and Sue for a signed copy of the book. Am trying to reply to most of your questions..



  17. Life Begins says:

    First of all Thanks to you Kiran for letting us know more about Lovely Tisca through this wonderful interview.

    Tisca – I have loved each one of your characters till date and I absolutely loved you in 24. I watched the whole series in last 2 weeks and i cried and cried in the scene where Mrs. ATU chief died. Please let miracle happen and come back in next season. (I secretely believe that will happen)

    I am looking forward to reading your book(s)

    No question for you ..Be the way you are!


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