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The edge of reason

Two years back, Bollywood actress Sarika had slipped into a black robe and held up a crystal star, posing as a wiccan, in Sacred Evil. For Parapaar, wiccan high priestess Ipsita Roy Chakraverti is facing the camera herself — sometimes playing out her real-life accounts, sometimes responding to queries from viewers and revealing a secret or two.

Commissioned by ETV Bangla, Parapaar is a TV series based on Ipsita’s mystical journey and her close encounters with the paranormal. A dramatised story will air from Monday to Friday; on Saturdays, she will interact with the audience through phone-ins related to the story.

“I had reservations when I was approached for Parapaar because it’s important to convey the philosophy and atmosphere in wicca in the right way. But I feel it’s time to reach wicca to the masses, and since Bengal is the place where the Mother Goddess Durga is worshipped, it’s important that misconceptions about Dakinividya are shattered. People should know who a daini is and what she does,” says the resident of Southern Avenue, who was branded a daini before being acknowledged as a healer.

“The serial may interest viewers to learn more about the eastern and western cults of the mother goddess. Besides, I believe healing can also be done through the electronic media,” says the wiccan who has been training a small group of Calcuttans in her craft.

Keeping the rural-urban audience in mind, the topics taken up in Parapaar include witchhunts (“which is still widely prevalent in the rural areas”), deja vu, dreams, out-of-body and near-death experiences.

Parapaar is a reality show in the true sense, it’s not just another supernatural show. We will explore unexplained situations and things that people often come across in their lives,” says director Avijit Banerjee, who had made the popular soap Aastha for ETV Bangla.

In the first story (Woman in Red, taken from Ipsita’s book Sacred Evil), which went on air on Monday, Chandreyee Ghosh, not Ipsita, plays the wiccan protagonist. “Chandreyee is Manasi, a student of Ipsita. Along with the dramatisation of a true story taken from Ipsita’s life, we will also track Manasi’s spiritual quest and personal life,” explains Banerjee.

Ipsita’s autobiography Beloved Witch provides the framework for Chandreyee’s character in Woman in Red, which will run for 20 episodes. As a student of this pagan branch of magic and learning, Chandreyee wears mostly black and uses several wiccan tools.

“I was always interested in the supernatural and witchcraft as a child. I had a vague idea about wicca but I didn’t know how wicca can do good to others and how it can enhance one’s concentration until I did this serial. A subject like this needs to seem authentic on screen and I loved the way Parapaar has been shot. I am shown using the crystal ball, the athame and the Tibetan singing bowl, and all the props are genuine,” says Chandreyee.

Parapaar will be aired Monday through Saturday at 10pm on ETV Bangla.

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