My three husbands are darker than me, says Mahima Chaudhry
Dark Chocolate, a Bengali film inspired by the sensational, as-yet unsolved murder (the case is currently being investigated) of 24-year-old Sheena Bora, is ready. Directed by Agnidev Chatterjee, it stars Mahima Chaudhry and Riya Sen. Chaudhry will portray the role of Ishani Banerjee, a character based on murder accused Indrani Mukerjea while actress Riya Sen will essay Rina Bardhan, a role inspired by Sheena. Victor Banerjee (media baron Peter Mukerjea) will be portrayed by Sudeep Mukherjee. The film will be dubbed in Hindi and released in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Bangladesh apart from Kolkata and release on Feb 19. Here, the screen mother-daughter duo talk about shooting for the film based on one of the most sensational cases of our time.
The plot is based on the premise: Can a mother kill her own child? If I hadn’t read it in the papers, I would have found the story over-the-top and not possible in real life. I have heard about infanticide, but having grown, nurtured and provided that child financial support, if the mother reaches a point where she can’t tolerate that child, it’s something to think about. The film doesn’t really solve the mystery, so it’s fuzzy. The story is like chocolate, which people can’t resist and yet leaves a bitter taste in their mouths, but they still crave it. Agnidev came to meet me in Mumbai and said, ‘It’s a story of a mother suspected of killing her daughter and is loosely inspired by the Sheena Bora murder case.’ I said it’s very interesting and far easier for me to do than wear chiffon sarees and dance around trees. I asked him to give me a couple of months to get myself regimented into a diet and workout. He said that would defeat the purpose as he wanted me to look simple and not even wear makeup.
He wanted the audience to wonder how an ordinary girl could have had so many lovers, so many people falling in love with her, how she got lucky, what was so special about her. I got up and hugged him! He said if I said yes, I would have to come to Kolkata in two days and start shooting. My first scene was the interrogation. I speak Bengali, so the language wasn’t a problem. Also my character travels from Assam and Mumbai to Kolkata, so apart from Bengali, I also speak in Hindi and English. I guess I can say now that I debuted in a Bengali film…
The story had to be told
If I hadn’t read the true story I would have told my director to cut off some scenes as they look so unreal. I had just two days to prepare for my role. It was a story that needed to be told. It’s very tough playing a real life character in a controversial story. Yes it’s dark, but I am not the only dark character in the film. As the story unfolds you will see my three husbands are darker than me. I come out looking light grey and not dark when the film gets over. What was tough was that it’s the first character that I have not understood but just played blindly according to the director’s vision. Being a mother myself (she has a daughter) I just couldn’t be convinced why she did it. I don’t want to know the motive or understand or live the character or do method acting! It’s just a story which has never been told on cinema so I agreed to do it. I am not convinced there can be a woman like that… There can be no motive big enough for a mother to kill her child.
She must have gone through some evil stuff to make her like that. While accidental murder is different this one was a planned one. How can there be so many evil people amongst us? It’s ironical. I had done a reality show Jalwa Four 2 Ka 1 for the 9X channel which was then owned by Peter and Indrani.
The film drained me
In real life stories like this you can’t give your own inputs —the only one person who controls the story is the director and where he wants to take the story or play it up. You can’t bring in your own take as you already know so much. The film drained me… It’s not a good feeling to play characters like this. You start feeling who should I trust now? These are the same evil people from your society moving around you. I met a lot of people in Kolkata who said Sanjiv Khanna is a wonderful, well-spoken man. They all said, ‘How could Sanju have done something like this?’ They would refer to him so fondly and called him Sanju. In the film my characters are presumed to be evil, they are not who we think they are, so the audience will think could I have done it?
Riya plays my daughter in the film and she was a lot of fun. Her sister Raima and mother came on the sets and the Sens were a riot. It was very good to hang out with them. Some scenes like the hacking scenes which we shot in Shantiniketan made me feel very depressed and Riya and I would feel yucky doing them while shooting them in a remote jungle but she always cheered me up. Riya is a very pretty girl and we got along very well.
Riya Sen on playing Sheena Bora
Dark Chocolate is a Bengali movie inspired by the current Sheena Bora murder case. I signed this film at the last minute, a day before I flew out to London and Washington for a film festival. The director made it clear that no one was given a script and he would write the scenes as the shoot progresses. My character was inspired by Sheena Bora but apart from her photographs I had nothing else of her personality to take with me to the set. So it was all improvised. I’ve just played myself as I don’t know much about Sheena personally. I also essay the role of a character inspired by Indrani Mukerjea at an earlier stage of her life. The film has certain scenes which are inspired by the Sheena Bora case but it’s not based on it. We shot the film in Kolkata, Bolpur and Shantiniketan. I’ve done my own look and styling in the film. I didn’t have much time to get into that aspect as we started shooting just seven-eight hours after I returned from America so I just kept it very casual and simple. I’ve played myself in the film but obviously with a little twist to it. It’s tough playing a real life character and acting in a controversial story. While shooting for most scenes I was overwhelmed as the characters I play are very bold and complex ones. I became quite close to Mahima who portrayed my mother/sister in the film. She’s an excellent actor, stunning woman and very intelligent. Sudip Mukherjee is a brilliant actor too. I learnt so much from both of them.
Posted by Konima Choudhary
on January 19, 2016. Filed under Bollywood
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