Simone shoots in Soho. Picture by Aranya Sen
Simone Singh loves Calcutta, but does Calcutta love Simone Singh? Yes it seems, or else city filmmakers wouldnt have sought her out from the litany of actresses looking for work in Bollywood.
The petite actress was in Calcutta two winters back to shoot for Arindam Nandys Via Darjeeling. The film bombed at the box-office but the spunky Simone is back in town to test the Tolly waters with Ashoke Viswanathans Hindi film with an English title, The Diamond Murders.
Simone may have never heard of Ashoke Viswanathan before but the tongue-tingling food and architecture of Calcutta were enough to bring her down.
I want to try out some good home-cooked Bengali food, which I havent had in a long time. My mother was a Bengali and its been really long since I had good Bengali food. Last time, I was here to shoot for Via Darjeeling for only five days. I didnt get time to look around or try out the cuisine here. This time I want to gorge on phuchkas. I will also try out some authentic Bengali cuisine at ITC The Sonar Calcutta, says Simone, with a sparkle in her dark eyes.
I enjoy shooting here. I wont say how different it is from Bollywood but people here work at a different pace and share a personal rapport, which is slightly different from that in Mumbai, she continues.
While her co-stars Priyanshu Chatterjee, Rajit Kapur, Raj Zutshi and Victor Banerjee are yet to join her on the sets, Simone is enjoying her time as Anisha.
Anisha is the central character in The Diamond Murders. The plot revolves around her family.... I didnt know about Ashoke until he offered me the script. He had sent me the screenplay and I found it very intriguing, says Simone, in between shooting for a song-and-dance sequence at Soho.
Sukalyan Bhattacharya has done the choreography and Simone is pleased with the moves. Its got flamenco. The steps are nicely done and very contemporary, she says.
The Diamond Murders is inspired by an Arthur Conan Doyle story. Ashokes father N. Viswanathan has written the script.
Ashoke chips in with a few details.
I was trying to do something a little ambitious and wasnt sure if I could pull it off. The Diamond Murders is a murder mystery on the surface but I will also explore the realms of fantasy, which would appeal to children because they are my target audience. In fact, after this film I am making Raju Narayaner Kirti for children, featuring children, he says.
The Diamond Murders is about Anisha, a nightclub crooner who receives a diamond out of the blue one day. This leads to a century-old story about hidden treasures. Simone has a very intelligent face and I needed Anisha to look like her. Simone comes across as a very tough person, which suits her character.
Produced by Unilux Films, The Diamond Murders will also be shot in Shillong, Agra and Mumbai. Bickram Ghosh has composed the music for four tracks.