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Swastika unplugged

You are busy with a lot of films all of a sudden. What was the reason behind the lull before and what has changed?

Yes, this year I am doing meaningful work. I have a lot of offers... meaty roles where I can prove my worth. I want to focus on work, work and work! In the next five years, I want to see myself ahead of where I’m now. Right now, I am dubbing for Mainak Bhaumik’s Maach Mishti ‘N’ More, Debaditya’s 8ta 8er Bonga Local, Saugata Ray Burman’s Tabe Tai Hok, Raj Mukherjee’s Roope Tomay Bholabona and Anjan Dutt’s Abar Bomkesh. Anik Datta’s Bhooter Bhabishyat and Subrata Sen’s Nondinee are ready for release.

I guess the lull in my career was due to the two relationships I’ve had. My first relationship made people think that I was a very commercial heroine. My second relationship made people think I was game for ‘different’ films. During my second relationship, I got a lot of offers of films which were not commercial at all. So people were confused. Then Bomkesh Bakshi and Buddhababu’s (Dasgupta) Janala released, which confused people even more. Everyone thought, okay, she had a break-up, so she won’t do commercial films and will only focus on meaningful cinema, and the offers stopped coming.

I had done about seven-eight commercial films with Bumbada (Prosenjit) and he too was switching to a different kind of cinema. And then a lot of young actors like Dev and Soham came in and they were being paired with new heroines. People assumed that I wouldn’t do films with Jeet, which resulted in me slowing down a little. But all that has changed now and there are lots of good offers.

Which film do you think brought about the turnaround?

I think Bomkesh Bakshi [directed by Anjan Dutt], even though I had a small role [of bar singer Shiuli] in the film. Also, the huge success of Bye Bye Bangkok last year. My role in Janala, too, was appreciated. I think people started seeing me beyond my relationships.

What kind of roles do you want to do now?

Something that I have not done before. Difficult things... maybe a dangerously unstable character. Something like Charlize Theron’s in Monster.

Are you okay with playing bold characters?

Yes, but it’s still very difficult for me. There are a lot of bold scenes in Tabe Tai Hok and I had to be very careful because after watching the film the audience might feel, ‘Oh my god, she is a bitch!’ In Nondinee, there’s a sensational rain song sequence. The postures (involving Swastika and Dibyendu) haven’t been tried on screen before... some are very erotic.

Will you ever go nude for a role?

If I ever go nude for a film, I would do it in such a way that people would relish it instead of loathing it. I would check whether the scene is really important, how it’s going to be shot and whether it’s going to be a part of the film and not edited out and only be seen on YouTube!

What’s next work-wise?

I am doing a film with Srijit Mukherji. It’s a damn good script. I am also doing Mainak Bhaumik’s next film called Chaar Dewal, based on a novel by Suchitra Bhattacharya. Talks are on for two films with Arindam Sil, of which one will be directed by Abhijeet Dasgupta. Then there’s a film with Anjan Dutt.

A lot has changed on the personal front too. You’ve bought a flat and are planning to move out...

In Nondinee, there’s a sensational rain song sequence. The postures haven’t been tried on screen before... some are very erotic

Yes, I have taken up a 2,000-plus sq ft flat in Ranikuthi. It’s still under construction. I want to have a small office there.... I have been staying with my parents for a long time. And though they are very liberal and never object to anything I do, at times I feel like having a place of my own where I can call my friends over. Plus, the pleasure of owning a home of my own.... At times I just want to be with myself, maybe read a book in a corner. All that I can do here of course, but sometimes you need to be alone, you know. But it’s also a nightmare because I am so used to being with my parents! My mother takes care of all my things. She knows where the most important document or the safety pin is. Also because I am a bad cook! So I am not 100 per cent prepared. Also, Mani (daughter) isn’t very keen. I am apprehensive of the fact that once I move into the new house, my daughter will be alone most of the time. As it is, we don’t meet often. Now that she is back from her hostel in Bangalore for good, I want to spend as much time with her as possible.

What kind of a relationship do you share with her?

Friendly, very friendly. You know, kids nowadays are so smart, they know everything.

And no plans to get married?

I am not looking at marriage now, no way. Work is definitely my priority. I wanted to have a career and for that I have sacrificed a lot of things. As a woman, too, I have sacrificed a lot. I sacrificed a relationship because I wanted to have a career. It was a huge thing for me to say yes to work and no to a relationship. I have been able to successfully make a place for myself on my own in this industry. I am a different person from what I was two years ago. I really think being in a relationship and being committed and looking ahead to a future with a man is bullshit. I have lost interest. Love, marriage, making babies are all bullshit. It doesn’t excite me anymore.

So, you are single now?

I have a lot of people to talk to. If I want, I can go out with a different man every night and there are so many who want to but I’m not interested. You know I go out with men and then they talk about the same idiotic things. And if I go out with someone more than twice, they assume that I am interested and things go in the same old direction.

You don’t miss someone steady in your life?

There are a lot of bold scenes in Tabe Tai Hok and I had to be very careful because after watching the film the audience might feel, ‘Oh my god, she is a bitch!’

No, because it doesn’t work out after a while. And then I crib about why I shared so much with that person. Nowadays I don’t want to invest so much time in a relationship. With those that I do, I know they are going to be there for me forever. I don’t want to get involved with anyone who will cash in on my popularity. Besides, you don’t have to be in a relationship to love someone. You don’t need to be committed to someone to be intimate with that person.

How does your daughter react to all this?

Mani hates the idea of me getting married and having another baby, though previously she was okay with it. She reads the newspapers, sees my friends (boyfriends) with other people and asks me, ‘Okay, so you had a break-up!? What was the issue? So you fell in love with someone else or he fell in love? You left him or he left you?’ Very straight, blunt questions. Sometimes when I shoot for a marriage sequence and go home with my make-up on, she hates it. She tells me, ‘Ma please remove the vermilion, you look ugly with it!’ She keeps telling me, ‘Ma, I don’t want you to cry and feel bad about it because either you leave them or they leave you!’ I know I am answerable to her for a lot of reasons.

But you seem focused only on your work now...

Yes I am. I wasn’t always so ambitious. Life has changed me. So just because I have a guy in my life who has his own priorities, I can’t go on changing my priorities and my identity for him. I was the kind of person who wanted to get married and have kids. Life had just the opposite in store for me. I have changed myself and now I take my career seriously.... I fall in love and then the man wants me to change. I am sorry, I can’t keep changing my priorities. Now I can’t see myself in the kitchen, raising kids. I am not that type anymore.

Why do you think your past relationships didn’t work out?

They just didn’t work out, for whatever reasons. The issues were different each time. Sometimes career came in between, sometimes the person concerned didn’t want me to do what I wanted to. Despite all these issues, I have had very meaningful and long relationships in the past, which have made me a stronger individual.

And how many relationships have you had?

Post-marriage, two. Relationships, not flings (laughs)!

And lots of flings?

That’s something I keep having! You can like so many people for so many reasons.

We don’t see you partying. Have you become a good girl?

No! Bad is in, being good is so boring. Actually, I am too busy with work. Besides, every party that I go to, people are so curious to know about my love life. I want to come back home to my daughter. I am in a relaxed zone now. I no more have any issues with my ex-es. There’s no bitterness about any of the men I have had a relationship with. Filmi parties are about the same people talking about the same issues.