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Bangali Bips
Bipasha Basu at the Hyatt. Picture by Aranya Sen

She had left the city many winters ago as an upcoming model trying to make a mark in Mumbai. This December, Bollywood star Bipasha Basu is back home to shoot for her first Bengali film with Rituparno Ghosh. Produced by Big Motion Pictures, the tentatively-titled Shob Charitro Kalponik also stars Prosenjit, Jisshu Sengupta and Pauli Dam.

A t2 chat with Bipasha...

What do you play in Shob Charitro Kalponik?

I am the protagonist Radhika, who returns to Calcutta after the death of her husband Indranil (Prosenjit). She is also in search of her roots. Here she connects with a photographer, Shekhar (Jisshu Sengupta), and Nanda’r Ma, her husband’s domestic help (Sohag Sen). Radhika goes through a lot of emotional turmoil and the film traces her journey.

Do you identify with Radhika?

Yes, in many ways. Like Radhika, I am coming back to my roots. And I knew that if I wasn’t like her then Rituda wouldn’t have chosen me.

When Rituda approached me for the role, I was aware of the intensity needed to play Radhika. She is much older than I am, so it was important to understand her and her relationship with others. It is extremely challenging, but I was guided beautifully by Rituda. I have watched a couple of his films, but now I want to watch them all.

What is your look in the film?

Radhika is very traditional despite staying away from Calcutta. So I wear ethnic saris, chunky jewellery and a big bindi. I also have long hair. The look is very ethnic Bengali.

How is it working with Rituparno?

Rituda is very clear about what he wants from his actors. He knows exactly how they should dress, walk, talk and emote. He knows his characters too well. Rituda also knows how to deal with the emotions of each character.

And being paired opposite Prosenjit? He was a star when you hadn’t even started your career...

It is great working with him; he is a perfect gentleman and is very sweet. I never felt I was working with him for the first time.... I have worked with Amitabh Bachchan in Aetbaar and before shooting I thought I would faint on the sets, but everything went smoothly and I cherish the experience.

Why didn’t you do a Bengali film for so long?

Actually, it was long overdue. I have been wanting to do a Bengali film for the last three years. Talks were on with Rituda but I had other commitments and I couldn’t adjust my dates. I found the role of Radhika very inspiring and I hadn’t started shooting for my forthcoming films yet, so this was the perfect time.

It’s not that I have to take out time for a regional film. As an actor, I can’t draw comparisons. A film is a film irrespective of the language. Tomorrow I might do a Tamil film and enjoy it equally well. But yes, since I am a Bengali, doing a film in my mother tongue is a pleasant experience. I am enjoying every bit of it.

What happened to the Buddhadeb Dasgupta film?

Don’t even talk about that. That film was never meant to happen.

Is the Tollywood work culture very different from Bollywood?

No, not at all. Tollywood is equipped with good infrastructure and I have been very comfortable. We are shooting in air-conditioned studios. The people are nice, my co-stars are friendly. I am getting along very well with Pauli (Dam) and I have taught her how to keep fit. Now she hits the gym every day.

Other films you are busy with...

Race is my next release. It’s a thriller with Saif Ali Khan, Akshaye Khanna and Katrina Kaif. Then there is the arthouse film Pankh, where I play the alter ego of a young boy. I will start shooting for a Siddharth Anand film under the Yash Raj banner.

(Which Bipasha film do you like the most? Tell

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