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Since 1st March, 1999
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Heat and dust
(Top) Rituparna and Rajesh do their snake charmer act on the sets of Bedeni in Purulia’s Dungri; (above) Anjan Das explains a shot to Indraneil and Rituparna

About 20km from Purulia town, on the rock-and-pebble terrain of Dungri, director Anjan Das and his team are fighting the blazing sun to shoot Bedeni with Rituparna Sengupta, Indraneil Sengupta and Rajesh Sharma.

A huge circus tent has sprung up over 10 acres to form the backdrop to this film revolving around the sexual dalliances of a snake charmer’s wife.

Shoot begins early morning to avoid the strong afternoon sun but the heat has already taken a toll on the captain of the ship. “I am running a temperature and I’ve got dust allergy too. It’s very hot here but I wanted

this location. I couldn’t find such a vast stretch of rough land in Bolpur even after a lot of scouting,” says Das.

The leading lady, however, is unruffled by the heat and dust. Caked in layers of dark make-up and wearing heavy junk jewellery, Rituparna breaks into jhatkas and matkas with a smile just as the camera pans towards her.

“My character, Radhika, is a woman full of lust and desire. It’s very challenging to play this role. Besides, Anjanda made me swim in slush and I swallowed so much mud! The role needs me to utter a lot of expletives and I think I am becoming very unsophisticated,” she laughs.

Rituparna decided to co-produce Bedeni (with Heartbeatz) because of her role and the Tarashankar Bandopadhyay story.

“When Anjanda narrated the script to me, I jumped because it revolves around a profession which is almost extinct now. Plus, I want to do films based on literature. I’m awestruck by this story which was written at a time when women were forced to stay indoors. But Radhika is a rebel. She’s very determined, a go-getter... and that’s something I identify with her. Radhika is a lot like me,” reveals Rituparna, munching apple and grapes inside her air-conditioned make-up van.

The two men — Rajesh, who plays Radhika’s live-in partner, and Indraneil, a circus ringmaster who Radhika secretly desires — wait for their cues. “Ritu and I have been friends since our Paromitar Ekdin days.... Bedeni is a difficult film for me too because I have to walk barefoot on these hot cobbled paths,” says Rajesh.

Perched on a motorcycle, Indraneil says the ringmaster’s role is a “great” one to have come his way. “My strategy is to choose different kinds of films and here I play the owner of Pyarilal Circus. I’m learning a lot. Rituparna is a sweetheart!” he says.

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