at all a ‘today’ film. It took me a long time to come to terms
with myself after I peeled off the make-up of Basanti, Sushmita Sen
tells V. Ananth
WHEN Kalpana Lajmi approached Sushmita Sen with the offer to cast her in Chingari, she grabbed it by the collar. "It is amazing that both Kalpana and I believe in Durga. Chingari is my tribute to my goddess through my profession. Even before Kalpana narrated the climax of the film, I told her that I was ready to shoot for the film." says Sushmita Sen.
According to Sushmita, Chingari
isn’t at all a ‘today’ film on any count. "Even when I
agreed to be a part of the project, I asked Kalpana whether she was
sure that I was suitable for the role of Basanti, the hard-core sex
worker and she said that she would work on the role. What I liked
about her as a director is that she told me that it did not excite her
to cast an actress only according to the image of the actor."
How did she prepare herself for the role? "To get into the skin of my character, I listened to Kalpana and put on koyla, kajal and Johnson baby oil all over my body to get the tanned rural look. When I was ready I did not have the guts to step out of the make-up van. Though I felt I looked strange, Kalpana assured me that I looked Basanti every inch. I had to work a lot on becoming Basanti from Sushmita and also vice versa. It took me a long time to come to terms with myself as Sushmita after I peeled off the make up of Basanti."`A0 `A0
Sushmita confesses that after essaying the role, which disturbed her as a person off the screen, she fell headlong in love with Basanti. "My mannerisms also changed. I got goose pimples when the climax of the film was shot even though I am a part of the scene only as an actress. Never in my career have I experienced physical as well as mental exhaustion as much as I did while essaying the character of Basanti. It is indeed strange but true that every time Basanti got a slap, I as Sushmita used to feel the pain. Every time Basanti was touched, I, as Sushmita, felt I was being humiliated."
Admitting that it was
tough to play a character with which she couldn’t identify herself,
Sushmita states that an actor should never attempt a film like Chingari
because the feeling of getting disgusted with her lasted a long
time after she had completed the shooting of the film and headed back
home. "Personally I do not subscribe to whatever Basanti does
because I am a woman who believes in standing up for one’s rights
and fight against the system if it gangs up against you, especially if
you happen to be a woman."
The worst aspect of working in Chingari, according to Sushmita Sen, was that she had to shut down her own self-belief. She adds. "It is a fact that you cannot lie through the camera. We know how to disassociate with the emotions, yet my own self-belief as a woman turned into a state of vulnerability. I felt Basanti was getting into my space and I was getting violated when I performed. If Mithun Chakraborty who plays the village priest Panda touched me more than a finger, it used to disturb me though I knew that our job is to just act and not become the character, which we are playing.
Chingari isn’t at all a feel-good film. Though Kalpana has not shown the sexual overtones but only suggested them subtly in her own style, at times, as Basanti I felt naked at places."
Right now Sushmita Sen,
besides awaiting the release of her first ever international project Karma
Confessions & Holi with Naomi Campbell, Rati Agnihotri, Suresh
Oberoi and Deepal Shaw as her co-stars, is busy with Abbas-Mustan’s
next film starring Saif Ali Khan and Fardeen Khan, Richard Gere’s Expat
etc, besides a film with David Dhawan and Tanuja Chandra’s Rockin’
in which she plays the role of a rock star. —MF