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Rahul and Priyanka

A lesson in love, rather than a Rizwanur-Priyanka rip-off. That is how Raj Chakraborty is trying to position his debut venture, Chirodini…Tumi Je Aamar.

The Shree Venkatesh film releasing in August has more than a few points of confluence with the tragic tale of love that played itself out in Calcutta last September, but the 33-year-old filmmaker is wary of courting controversy.

“It’s not a controversial film and we are not cashing in on the Rizwanur-Priyanka tragedy,” Raj is quick to clarify. “There are many such incidents all over the world but the Rizwanur-Priyanka tragedy has been highlighted and blown out of proportion.”

So what is Chirodini... all about? “My film is a teenage love story. About a girl of Class X-XI whose father and uncle want her to become somebody in life. But she falls head over heels for a para garage mechanic. They both take a decision that leaves her family in a state of shock and triggers a series of incidents,” says Raj.

And, er, what does all that (down to dad and uncle) immediately remind us of? “Oh God!” laughs Raj. “See I am not denying that my film is loosely based on the Priyanka-Rizwanur case. It’s a real story and there are glimpses of the tragedy. But it is also about all those teenagers who make mistakes; who don’t know what to do when they fall in love. It will be a lesson for youngsters to not get carried away, when in love. It will also be a lesson for the older generation.”

The film launches two newcomers: Rahul and Priyanka (!). “We didn’t just take her for her name,” laughs Raj. The plot hangs on Pallabi (Priyanka), a teenager who feels those first flutters when she meets Krishna (Rahul), the garage mechanic. They fall in love and take a drastic decision that changes their lives forever.

The film was shot last year, in Calcutta, Siliguri and Visakhapatnam (a song sequence). But why was it was all so hush-hush? “Actually we didn’t want to talk about the film then as the story is sensitive. Besides there are some marketing strategies too. Plus, we didn’t want to reveal the two new faces.”

The new faces were found after extensive auditions and then Rahul and Priyanka were put through a 15-day workshop before shooting began. “They are brilliant. Their screen chemistry is awesome,” exclaims Raj. “And all the others have done a very good job. There’s Tamal Roy Chowdhury as Pallabi’s father, Geeta Dey, Sujit Dutta…”

The promos on air show Priyanka prancing around in towel, setting tongues wagging about the film being bolder than usual. “Well, it is a bold film,” admits Raj. “If the audience accepts it, it will be a trend-setter in Tollywood. There isn’t just the towel shot. There are some tender, steamy moments too. But there’s nothing vulgar. My film is for everybody.”

On playing Pallabi:

I was doing the Zee Bangla mega serial Khela when Rajda (Chakraborty) called me and offered me Pallabi. I think it’s the perfect launch for me. I play a pampered rich girl whose dad and uncle have underworld connections. I could relate to the role because I am almost her age (17). I consider myself lucky to have bagged such a meaty role. I portray a character with lots of shades in my debut film, which is great.

On the towel song:

I think I have been bold enough in my debut film to do a song wrapped in a towel. But I knew about that while reading the script and there was no problem while shooting the song.

On Rahul:

Rahul is a great co-star. I have known him for a long time. I am very comfortable working with him. He is very sincere and dedicated.

On the Priyanka-Rizwanur angle:

I don’t deny that the film has glimpses of Rizwanur-Priyanka. But it’s not only their story. It’s about all those young boys and girls who fall in love and then take a drastic step.

On being Krishna:

Do I even need to say that it was a dream debut for me? Playing Krishna is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But I had to work very hard. Though I play the hero, I have done nothing heroic. I mean I didn’t get to beat up five baddies, didn’t wear good clothes, didn’t look good, didn’t sing and dance around trees. On the contrary I had to grow my hair and keep it uncombed, wear a torn shirt that had grease and petrol stains teamed with a cheap rubber chappal and a dirty bearded look. There’s only one dream sequence where I wear proper clothes. Plus, Rajda made me switch from cigarettes to bidi and sleep on the floor in my hotel room. At times I used to feel very angry, but after watching the film I felt all that is worth it.

On Priyanka:

I respect Priyanka and she is my favourite actress. She has done a very good job. We share great screen chemistry and are friends off-screen.

On the Priyanka-Rizwanur angle:

I don’t think it’s Priyanka-Rizwanur story. It could be anybody’s love life gone awry. I live in Bijoygarh Refugee Colony and there are many such incidents which haven’t been glorified, so a lot of people don’t know about them.

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