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The doll’s house
- Anjan Dutt will explore the supernatural with a story by Ipsita Roy Chakraverti

Bollywood actress Sarika, Tollywood filmmaker Anjan Dutt and wiccan high priestess Ipsita Roy Chakraverti have come together to make a film on the supernatural.

Anjan will direct The Loving Doll, a tale from Ipsita’s short story collection Sacred Evil, in Hindi with a smattering of English. Sarika plays the central character of a middle-aged woman obsessed about losing her looks.

The story revolves around a married couple beset with personal problems, triggered by a doll owned by the wife.

Sacred Evil, the book’s title story, had earlier been made into a film, starring Sarika, by Abhigyan Jha.

“After the film Sacred Evil, I have been approached by several directors for another film but the inspiration was not there. This time around there was a synchronicity — Sarika phoned me to ask if I was thinking of another film. She has long wanted to play the woman in The Loving Doll.... Then I happened to see Madly Bangalee and liked Anjan’s work very much. I think he has the touch to be able to handle the subject of The Loving Doll. So I contacted him and he was very interested in the project. Though he works in a very different genre from mine, I think there is an empathy between his work and mine,” says Ipsita, who has turned the story into a script, changing the location and adding more characters.

While the story takes place in a posh south Calcutta locality, the film will probably take off in the misty hillside.

Dutt feels The Loving Doll is, in a way, an extension of what he will be dealing with in his next project, the Byomkesh Bakshi film Adim Ripu. “In both these films, Adim Ripu and The Loving Doll, I will explore the darker side of human nature.... I had never thought of doing films on the supernatural but after discussing the project with Ipsitadi, I am very excited,” says Anjan, now working on the story and the script.

“The author is the most important when I make a film. Here, it’s even more so because the story is something Ipsitadi has experienced in her life.”

The cast, apart from Sarika, is yet to be decided. Though the healer in The Loving Doll is Ipsita, the film may or may not have her playing herself. “It’s the director’s prerogative. We will do what is best for the film,” says Ipsita. “We haven’t thought about it yet,” adds Anjan.

The paranormal

The Living Doll is an account of a ‘haunted’ doll that Ipsita was given during her career as a healer.

“I still have the doll and I look at it often. And its glittering blue eyes seem to challenge me whether I have the courage to take her on. So I thought of turning the story into a script,” laughs the wiccan.

“The woman in the story is on the verge of a nervous breakdown because she is afraid of losing her charm and with that of losing everything. In a way, the doll is an externalised entity of what is within the woman. The doll slowly becomes a presence in the couple’s life and a hurdle between the husband and the wife,” she explains.

While translating Ipsita’s experience on to the screen, Anjan wants to keep the psychological perspective in the foreground.

“I want to make it very clear that it is not going to be a Mahesh Bhatt kind of ghost story. Neither will it be like The Exorcist. I am thinking on the lines of What Lies Beneath, Rosemary’s Baby and Psycho,” says Anjan, who feels the film can be an in-depth study into a mid-life crisis arising out of growing old.

“In order to be forever young, we are going in for cosmetics and plastic surgery, basically going anti-nature.... I don’t know whether this film will end up as a medical thriller or a psychological thriller, but I think it’s going to be complex, intriguing and, of course, believable. I see it as a conflict between nature and anti-nature,” he says.

For Ipsita, Anjan’s approach is in sync with the spirit of the subject. “My work as a healer has involved the psychological and the supernatural.... Besides, I think this is a topic that will interest the young generation. I find more and more young people drawn to the new rationality — mysticism,” she says.


what Sarika says:

The Loving Doll has been in the pipeline for quite some time. Both of us (Ipsita and she) thought it would be interesting and we were looking for a director. The story offers various possibilities of layering the character I am playing. With this story, I think I can explore something that I haven’t yet.

Ipsita has chosen Anjan and she wouldn’t make the wrong choice. I am watching Anjan’s films and he has worked with some of my friends.

Ipsita and I had earlier done the film Sacred Evil, where I had played her. After meeting her, I discovered what she was connected with and it was a very enlightening experience for me. But unfortunately we couldn’t capture this magic in the film. But you know it is good to fail once in a while (laughs). It makes you more careful.

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