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- Published 16.07.12
If you thought Paoli Dam had already pushed the “bold” envelope with Hate Story, watch out for this one. Tolly’s “inhibition-free” actress is all set to slip into the sexy two-piece number of yesteryear’s cabaret dancer Miss Shefali!
To be directed by Gulbahar Singh, Cabaret Queen is based on the ups and downs of — and, of course, the various men in — Miss Shefali’s life, just like the late soft porn star Silk Smitha’s career formed the base for The Dirty Picture.
Singh, who had earlier made Abaidha with Debasree Roy in 2004 and won a National Award for the documentary Anukaran, is excited about taking up such a subject for his comeback to Bengali films. “I had read about Miss Shefali in a magazine a long time back and thought of making a film on her. She was a renowned cabaret dancer of the ’70s. She also did two films — Seemabaddha and Pratidwandi with Satyajit Ray. Our film, though bold in treatment, will focus on her struggles and also the men in her life,” Singh told t2 from Mumbai, where he is busy with the post-production of his film Ek Rani Aaisi Bhi starring Hema Malini.
After her bold and brazen outing in Vikram Bhatt’s Hate Story, Paoli was looking for “something meatier” in Tollywood. “There are a lot of offers, but I chose Cabaret Queen because I thought it would be very challenging to portray someone who had such a fascinating life. I’m also jittery because I have to perform five cabaret numbers!” Paoli told t2.
Sunita Bhattacharya of T. Sarkar Productions, which is producing Cabaret Queen, is prepared to face comparisons between Cabaret Queen and The Dirty Picture. “Of course it’s a controversial subject and Paoli will be compared with Vidya Balan. Let’s see.... Actually we are doing a film after a long gap (their last productions were Sandip Ray’s Kailase Kelenkari and Tintorettor Jishu) and unless the subject was interesting we didn’t want to do it,” Sunita said.
Paoli feels the parallels between Silk and Shefali don’t hold ground. “See professionally, Silk Smitha and Miss Shefali were very different. Silk was the star of C-grade films, while Miss Shefali was a cabaret dancer. Apart from the men and the ups and downs in their lives, nothing is really similar. Plus, I think playing Miss Shefali will be far more challenging because she is alive and I will sit with her to discuss my role before we start shooting,” she said.
“After so many films, I want to play characters that will add value to my CV as an actress. I am doing the modern version of Deep Jwele Jai (1959, starring Suchitra Sen). Then there’s a mainstream masala movie, opposite Indraneil Sengupta,” added Paoli, who’s in talks with Vikram Bhatt for another Hindi film.
Cabaret Queen will go on the floors in November. “We will have extensive workshops and the script is being written many times over because we have to fictionalise a lot of it,” said Sunita.