By Tanushree Dutta | Opening Doorz Editorial | October 24, 2017
To provide for those who mourn in Zion—to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
They say ignorance is bliss; in that case awakening must be painful. Tanushree Dutta once had the world at her feet. Miss India Universe 2004, fame, fortune and Bollywood offers by the dozen. Then the lights went out… or in her case, came on. Read on to find out more about the actress who suddenly went off the radar and is now based in the US. Content. Secure. More importantly, wiser because of the One who walks with her…
Tanushree lays bare her brokenness and flight to victory. She shares her story with openingdoorz.com, with the world… because she believes in Celebrating Life!
My story is nothing different from the countless stories you might have read before; yet, it has an eternal quality to it. It always has the same end: Grace and resurrection!
My story begins with Grace…
My story started with Grace. Born in a small town (Jamshedpur), to simple middleclass parents, I was taught the virtues of simple living and high thinking from an early age. Dishonesty and disobedience were cardinal sins in my household and were not taken too kindly by my extremely strict Mother. My Father was kind and compassionate and indulged us by overlooking our childish discrepancies but Mom ensured we were always in check.
My parents taught us that being an intelligent, talented, hardworking, good person was a way to succeed in the world. Helping others and being patient, polite and well-mannered were keys to success and happiness. I lived by these lessons as a teenager and a young adult up until I was thrust into the ‘real world’. I was shocked to discover that intelligence and self-assuredness in the grown-up world is perceived as arrogance. Politeness and good manners are perceived as weakness and an invitation to be walked over. Patience is perceived as lacking seriousness towards ones vocation. And lastly, I realized, no one is really bothered about how good or talented you are and how hard you work! Add to it the fact that like crabs in a bucket everyone is out to claw the other out for their two seconds of fame!
Throughout my life I have felt the presence of Grace upon my life like an invisible force: some call it God, I call it love. Moving to Mumbai from Pune [where I was doing my high school and from where I started modelling], was a turning point in my life. Armed with several prestigious modelling assignments and local beauty pageant crowns I was ready to conquer Mumbai. In a way I did that a year later when I won the Miss India pageant (2004). A proud moment for me, as I represented India at the Miss Universe 2004 contest in Quito, Equador, and was placed in the top 10!
After the international pageant, while my pictures were still plastered all over major Indian cities, I started getting Bollywood film offers. Cakewalk again. I signed a few early films that were offered to me and switched over from modelling to films effortlessly. Acting came naturally to me and I loved to dance and express myself: modelling had taught me not to be camera shy. Add to it my looks and the next new star was born!
So far, so good!
Mumbai and Bollywood, a Handbook for Dummies…
There must be a handbook called Mumbai and Bollywood for Dummies, which I did not get a hold of before settling into my new life. Shockers ahead…
I soon started seeing the dark side of fame and fortune I had easily gotten used to. I would be utterly confused when people who on my face would try to get very friendly with me (much to my amusement), behind my back would call me names, try to discredit and dishonor me. Dealing with unprofessional attitude of my co-workers (fake friendships, lies and deceptive attitudes of close associates) was now a new way of life. I had to learn to navigate through this maze and somehow cope with it.
I tried to see the world through my rose-tinted glasses with my ostrich head because reality sucks! Now, not all of my experiences were negative of course and there are great perks of being rich and famous. I came across all kinds of people in my life: the good, the bad, the ugly, gracious and ungracious and I tried to take it all in my stride. But when you are an early twenty something young, idealistic yuppie girl (all flowers and ponies and romance and sunshine) real life hurts sometimes and as humans, the negative has a lasting impact more than the positive!
I faced manufactured controversies structured to promote films by downgrading me as an actor and as a human being. I’ve faced public insult and humiliation at the hands of erratic and unbalanced co-workers because I didn’t conform to their ideologies or massage their ego. I’ve been dropped from films and not given projects because I refused to get pally with ‘powers that be’ in Bollywood. I was even attacked by an angry mob once, for standing up for my dignity! The worst blow was the judgmental attitude that women in general receive but a young actress faces almost on a daily basis in a country like India.
The pressure was too much. Personal life was a chaos as the moment I became famous I was no longer looked as a human but a freakshow trophy everyone wanted to possess and parade around but no one loved because no one ever tried to see through the gloss to know who I really was.
And no one perhaps ever will because it’s hard for most humans to see through the veil of appearances and look at the soul of a person. Love in this world is just an illusion I soon came to realize along with the truth about people closest to me. They say ignorance is bliss; in that case awakening must be painful! In my case even ignorance was never bliss because I was intuitive and instinctive by nature. Deep inside, I always felt like an outsider in this world never really fitting in. My awakening was realizing that I was never supposed to fit in anyways.
You would ask how Jesus walked into all this?
And then, I encountered Jesus…
You know, there cannot be a worse state to be in than a state in which there is no motivation left to go on in life. The same happened with me. When all hope is lost and the road ahead looks dark and after trying all possible paths to healing and wholeness, I realized my heart would probably remain broken from all the disappointment and disillusionment I faced. I turned to Jesus Christ.
My sensitive, dying soul needed a Saviour!
It was an encounter with God back in 2009 that was the turning point in my life. When at the age of just 25, the reality of life had started hitting me and I was coming to this sad and sorry realization that in this world all is not what it seems to be and that I was ill-equipped and unprepared to face this world on my own, that I was damaged emotionally, scarred psychologically, broken in spirit and had no strength whatsoever to stand up again in the face of persecution that had become my normality, I saw a bright light!
This was where I was at when I met Jesus and He asked me to walk with Him. I thought an old friend from another world had come to see me. It felt authentic, it felt nostalgic, it felt like real love and it felt like home.
After this supernatural encounter and even before this, I had had many dreams, visions and supernatural or spiritual experiences; too many to recount but leading me to enquire more. From an early age, I had developed an interest in all things supernatural and spiritual. Naturally, my curiosity got the better of me and it took me further down the rabbit hole as I began experimenting with new age spiritual organizations, practices and methods to find salvation from this existential crisis I was experiencing.
Most of them were genuine and provided temporary relief but no lasting solution to the gnawing sense of restlessness and need to find lasting answers to my life’s most pressing questions. Even in the spiritual realm, there is truth mixed with delusion and one needs discernment to sift through the hay to find pearls. No harm in a little delusion; just that it wastes a lot of time and you only go round in circles, never really reaching your true goal of finding yourself in a peacefully happy place.
Now begins the ridicule…
Seeing and hearing about my about turn from a glamorous Bollywood actress and upcoming Star, to going on the spiritual path, many laughed and scoffed at me, calling me a failure saying I had lost my mind. I’ve asked myself this question several times questioning not only my existence and purpose of my life but also my very sanity in times of doubt. So to all those people who are having a field day speculating whether I’ve lost my marbles or I’m onto something profound only time will tell. But it has felt like slow death in many ways. Letting go of everything that at one point was dear and familiar to me, to walking on new territory, rediscovering possibilities life may have for me.
My quest took me to newer places, to experience new outlooks which have helped me heal. No one comes out of this life unscathed but I’m hoping that one day I can parade my scars as battle wounds like a warrior does. This battle of life has been tougher that I ever imagined. I know now what it feels to be truly human. And from this has come a profound desire to help others who are struggling at coping with the challenges of life and hence I share my story today. The point of all this being: if I can survive, so can you or anyone else.
With Grace comes resurrection power…
As a footnote, I would like to add that I’m hoping for a resurrection and divine restoration of all things, just like Jesus, after crucifixion, was raised from the dead by Divine Grace. I’m hoping that mine will be a story of great victory and great love. I’m hoping that from the ashes of my life and career will emerge a great phoenix that soars above everything to reach the heavens above. That is what Jesus gave me: Hope and hope is what I’m holding him accountable for.
He asked me to believe and I did; so not me but actually Jesus should be held responsible for all this because I walked with Him away from everything because He asked me to, because He said that God has plans for me. Because He said that I will find great love and great fulfillment. Because he appeared as a luminous light during my darkest hour. Because I believe in that ‘Living Light’ that appeared to me in 2009!
Nowadays, I wonder if that was a dream or this reality that we all think is real is actually one big collective dream!
Moving to the United States…
I moved to the United States in June 2016, prompted and guided by the Holy Spirit to start a new life in a new environment. A move that had been in planning for many years but I procrastinated for a long time. I continue to cash in on my Bollywood fame here and am frequently invited as a celebrity guest, judge, performer, presenter and speaker at Indian community events within continental US. I’m in talks to be a part of few other local Television projects here as well.
I’m now going slow, unsure just like I was once before, but with greater faith and experience of life behind me. Let’s see where life leads me this time. I feel like Alice in Wonderland sometimes but then I remember the promise of resurrection and I press on forward. What do I want? Where do I want to go? Who am I to become… only God knows. I’m alive and well and that’s what matters the most.
And because of Grace, this story doesn’t really end here, there is more to come: “You shall live,” thus God spoke!
All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances. And one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages. At first the infant; mewling and puking in the nurses arms.
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