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The veer Konna of Chittagong

While all eyes are on Deepika Padukone in Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey, the other girl in the Ashutosh Gowariker film has an equally important role. Meet Vishakha Singh who plays Pritilata Waddedar, the “veer konna of Chittagong”, in the film about Surya Sen and the Chittagong uprising of 1930.

What films have you done before this?

So far I have been busy with films down south. I did an amazing film called Pidichirukku in Tamil and a couple of out-and-out commercial films in Kannada called Housefull and Antharathma. I have also shot for a zany English comedy (The Genius of Beauty) as the main lead that was showcased at the Cannes film festival this year. But Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey is, of course, my biggest break.

How did you get that big break?

I had heard that Ashu sir (Gowariker) was making this film based on Manini Chatterjee’s book Do And Die. But I had never imagined I would get an audition call for it. I did my own research and went for the audition and after a month of waiting with much angst, I got an SMS from Ashu sir confirming me! I think it’s the first time an actress has ever been finalised on an SMS! And I was shooting within a week.

Did you know about the Chittagong uprising before doing your research?

I had never heard of Masterda. I remember reading just one line on the Chittagong uprising in my history text in school. I had no idea who Surya Sen was, let alone the mammoth contribution he made on that fateful night in April 1930.

Tell us a little bit about Pritilata and how you have played her...

I get to play the “veer konna” of Chittagong in the film. She is a very important member of Masterda’s team. To me Pritilata is akin to Jhansi ki rani! The more I read about her the more I was in awe of this young girl who attacked the Pahartali club at such a young age. I feel a lot of pride in sharing my birthday (May 5) also with this brave girl!

What was it like working with an eminent director like Ashutosh Gowariker in your first big Bolly film?

Working with Ashu sir has been one of my best experiences in life. The bar has been raised for me. I have always maintained that I am a great student under a good teacher and Ashu sir is a brilliant teacher! He is also a very good human being. He is one of the finest directors in the country and he still has the patience to get the best out of newcomers. My favourite line of his is: “Cut it! Ok!” That means the shot went well!

Will you continue to do regional films or will you concentrate on only Bollywood now?

I have done films in the past but nothing on the scale of KHJJS. No matter how talented you are, if you are not visible, it is all in vain. This film has given me the platform to showcase my creative abilities and I would like to pursue that.

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