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‘My gift to Bengal’
Jaya Prada

When actress-turned-MP Jaya Prada decided to become a producer, she turned to Tollywood. Ashoke Viswanathan’s soon-to-release Sesh Sanghat has been produced by her Rainbow Jayaprada Entertainmentz. A t2 chat with Jaya...

What’s your role in Sesh Sanghat?

I play Raji, a village belle who fights the feudal lords. The subject is very contemporary because women in our villages fight against the lords everyday. Raji emerges as the saviour of the rest of the women in the village. The film carries the message that a woman’s rights must be protected.

So far you’ve mostly played a demure housewife...

Yes, but not anymore. I have transformed personally. I have become more aggressive. I am exposed to politics and therefore I am more confident, well-read and knowledgeable. The change in my personal life will now reflect on screen. Sesh Sanghat is the first film where I am not playing a docile housewife or a weeping mother or a good sister. Now I want to play aggressive roles, because as a member of Parliament I want to work for the society. I would never like to quit films for the simple reason that I have been able to connect with people because of my acting career.

Why did you become a producer with a Bengali film?

The Bengali film industry is booming. When I decided to produce a Bengali film, a lot of people told me that I shouldn’t be putting money on a regional film. People move to Hollywood after Bollywood and I moved to Bengal! But the people of Bengal have always supported me and showered me with so much love. And I am very attracted to Bengali culture. My first Bengali film was Ami Shei Meye with Prosenjit and at that time the unit had made me feel so comfortable. Sesh Sanghat is my gift to the people of Bengal. I will continue doing more Bengali films if I like the scripts.

Acting, politics, production... how do you manage so much?

I am playing too many roles now (laughs). I am a politician, a member of Parliament, a producer and also a dancer. I do shows and I also do ad commercials. Production is a vast task. It’s tough but with age comes maturity and I have years of experience behind me.

Why did you choose Ashoke Viswanathan?

Ashoke is an intellectual director. I was very comfortable working with him. Sesh Sanghat is a turning point in my career. Till now people know Jaya Prada as the docile, simple girl next door. But Jaya has transformed and Ashoke is responsible for that. Here Jaya is a fighter. The rest of the cast... Chiranjit, Sabyasachi (Chakraborty) and Jackie (Shroff) have supported me. Since I am not too good with action scenes, Chiranjit gave me the josh to fight!

What else are you busy with?

I am doing Amrapali, a ballad, and we will bring it to Calcutta in April.... I am planning to produce another Bengali film. I would love to work with Buddhadeb Dasgupta and all the big directors of Bengal. I was supposed to do a film with Dada (Buddhadeb) this September but I couldn’t start it due to some unavoidable circumstances. Maybe Dada is a little angry with me, but I will ask him to rethink. I was busy with Parliament. Such things happen, there are crises in human life. I couldn’t concentrate on the script. I will try and pacify him.

I have already missed one opportunity. The great Satyajit Ray had offered me a film! He had read out a script to me and had called me to his place. He was such a warm person. But the film didn’t happen. I won’t let the same thing happen between me and Dada.

KN

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