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Mumbai: Amrita Rao is returning to films with "Thackeray" and the actor believes with changing dynamics in showbiz, she is ready to experiment.

The actor became the epitome of 'the girl-next-door' in early 2000s with films such as "Ishq Vishq", "Main Hoon Na" and "Vivah".

Her last cinematic outing was 2013's "Satyagraha" and she did musical drama "Meri Awaaz Hi Pehchaan Hai" for the small screen three years later.

Rao said she turned down many big Bollywood projects as they did not meet her selection criteria.

"It has been a journey of sacrificing big films because I was not comfortable with the on-screen requirements. Trends change, on-screen demand of actresses change. Cinema is a slice of reality. You have school and college kids being intimate and marriage is not even in question and that is what they show in cinema. 

"That kind of requirement of the character did not suit me. So I had to let go of those big offers with a heavy heart. The directors respected me and understood that I had certain restrictions which were sacred to me," she told PTI in an interview.

The actor plays Meena Thackeray, wife to late Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray (portrayed by Nawazuddin Siddiqui) in the film.

She said the makers approached her to play the role as they believed that both the women have a "pure" image.

"I have earned that image in the industry. Playing a mature role was challenging for me. I have played the girl-next-door and then to portray this part, where my character spans from a 28-year-old to a 60-year-old, was not easy," she said.

And now Rao wants to be part of something edgy.

"Discussions are on. I want to do something that I have not done before like a thriller, murder mystery or suspense film. I would love to play a negative role...

"Due to digitalisation, work opportunities and avenues have changed so much. Directors typecasting actors is passe," she said.

In 2016, the actor tied the knot with radio jockey Anmol and focused on her personal life.

Rao said she had hinted at the hiatus before implementing it.

"I was not making presence anywhere... There are some actors who surrender themselves to the industry. I have always been a family person," she added.

In a comment on India's #MeToo tsunami that has crossed the boundaries of the film industry since last September, the actor said influential people would try to get their way, but "accepting it or not" will always be a choice. 

"It is unfortunate when I hear about the #MeToo cases. There are girls and guys here who are ready to grab opportunities at any cost. People should respect themselves and their values," she said.

Rao said she was "blessed" to never experience harassment.

She believes it was because she became a star early on in her career despite being an outsider. 

"I had a wonderful entry into films without being a star kid. And you can't plan such things. My journey has been different. I arrived and I became a star so everybody was on their best behaviour with me. I have stuck to my personality, I have not done anything that is out of my personal zone," she said.



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