Amrita Acharia comes home


Amrita Acharia arrived at the children’s shelter in Godavari on Friday morning wearing a pastel shawl with intricate woven patterns. When complimented, she replied with a smile: “This is Palpali Dhaka, we went all the way to Tansen to get it.”

Daughter of a Nepali father and Ukrainian mother, the Game of Thrones actress is in Nepal after 16 years on a journey to reconnect with her roots, and a long-awaited to visit the ChoraChori children’s charity she is involved with.

ChoraChori rescues trafficked Nepali children from circuses as well as victims of rape and abuse in India, giving them skills-training, rehabilitating them, and reuniting them with families when possible. Acharia helps the UK-based charity with fundraising dinners and other promotional activities.

After leaving Nepal at the age of seven, Acharia grew up in different parts of Europe and turned to acting. The HBO series Game of Thrones made her a household name seven years ago. She acted in the role of Irri, maid to the heroine Daenerys, in the show reputed to be the world’s most watched.

“People get killed so easily in that show, I was lucky to have survived for two seasons,” she laughs.  “That was so long ago, but it was a good start for me. It opened the door for me to work in other shows.”

Read also: Amrita Acharia in a charity drive

After that, Acharia appeared in many British and Norwegian productions, and is currently busy as a doctor in Good Karma Hospital. She doesn’t know whether her father, a real-life doctor, finds her take on the medical profession convincing. “He enjoys it as a show, but he is also aware of the artistic liberties we take,” she says.

Good Karma Hospital is set in Kerala, but filmed in Sri Lanka. It was while on location there that she was reminded a visit to Nepal was long overdue both to see the land she grew up in, and also to visit ChoraChori.

“I like how ChoraChori hosts children in a safe environment, provides them with education and skills, and makes them independent, and that is what drew me to help them,” she says. “A lot of people know me, and I want to use that fame to shed some light on the issues of Nepal’s children and the efforts by charities like ChoraChori to address them.”

On this trip, Acharia also trekked to Ghandruk, visited Butwal, Bhairawa, and Arghakhanchi to meet her father’s side of the family. She does not remember the Nepal of her childhood much, and her impression of this trip is that Nepal is a little busier, but otherwise the same.

Does it feel like home? “I have lived in so many places that I adapt easily,” she answers. “So I am always partly at home, and partly an outsider everywhere. In Nepal, I found there are still people who think of me as family. And that feels good.”

Raised in Britain and Norway, Acharia calls herself multilingual and multicultural, but has not been typecast as someone from a minority community in films. She says: “I don’t look like a typical Asian. I could be cast as anything, from Caucasian to Latina to Asian. So being of mixed race is actually an advantage for me.”

Acharia’s parents spoke to each other in Ukranian and Russian, so she lost touch with Nepali. But she says she enjoyed being immersed in Nepali everywhere on this trip. In Godavari, Acharia asked in halting, accented Nepali what the girls learnt in tailoring class.

She has never watched a Nepali movie, but says she is open to acting in one if she likes the project. “But I do not like my voice to be dubbed, so I must first learn Nepali,” she adds in English. “Maybe next time I can answer your questions in Nepali.”

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