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Regular-article-logo Sunday, 26 May 2024

I was dying to do an action film: Bidita Bag

Bidita Bag on her upcoming release, The Sholay Girl, her first action film that is a web biopic, on “Bollywood’s first stuntwoman” Reshma Pathan

Saionee Chakraborty Published 05.03.19, 02:10 PM
Bidita Bag

Bidita Bag Picture by Pabitra Das

There is something about Bidita Bag. She calls it “stubbornness”, the don’t-give-up attitude with which she has survived Bollywood. In town to shoot for a Viacom18 Motion Pictures web short for Srijit Mukherji, the Santragachhi girl chatted with The Telegraph on her upcoming International Women’s Day release, The Sholay Girl, her first action film that is a web biopic, directed by Aditya Sarpotdar, on “Bollywood’s first stuntwoman” Reshma Pathan, for Zee5.

You get to have the word ‘Sholay’ in your CV now! How did the film happen?

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It’s a difficult emotion to explain. My film has a Sholay connect... a film so iconic in Indian film history. I feel I am part of Indian film history. This film will also go to many film archives. I think the Zee5 people saw me in Babumoshai Bandookbaaz and loved it and they were looking for somebody who looks a little different and has good acting skills... also looks like Reshma Pathan.

I fit the bill. Reshma Pathan had the height and body of a heroine and I somewhat resembled her during her younger days. She is around 65 now.

When did you shoot for the film?

We shot in a very short span of time in February. So within a month we’ve shot, dubbed and done post-production and are delivering it! It’s less than two hours and premieres on Zee5 on March 8.

It must have been hectic...

It was really hectic. It is an action film. Din e der theke du minute er beshi footage paoa jai na. We shot in a two-camera setup. We shot all over Bombay— Naigaon, Mukesh Mill, Film City.

But you love challenging roles...

Always. I was dying to do an action film. I have trained in martial arts and I do yoga regularly.

How did you approach the role?

I hardly got any time to prepare. I prepared on the set. It demanded a lot of mental strength. My martial arts training came in handy. I had randomly approached a couple of people practising on the Juhu beach a couple of years back. I wanted to see if at my age I could still take it up. Usually they say you have to be a lot younger to do it. I was pretty good at it. The language I speak is Mumbaiyaa.

Did you speak to Reshma Pathan?

I did and she is in love with me. Though she had a separate make-up van, she would come and chill with me in my make-up van. I would pick her up every day and she would hang around in my room. Chhayar moton uni aamar shathey chhilen. She has done stunts for Rekha, Dimple Kapadia, Durga Khote too. She is still active. Her acting debut was Rohit Shetty’s Golmaal.

This film is about some high points in Reshma Pathan’s life. She was very strong. She had to fight with her family and society. No one was really aware about this profession. There were heroines who treated her well and some not so well. She loved doing stunts and also she needed money badly.

The trailer starts with the famous tanga scene from Sholay...

She was badly injured during that scene. The scene where the tanga takes a tumble was not part of the script. It was an accident and the director decided to keep it because it was very nice.

Now that you have played a stuntwoman, what do you think it entails?

Risking your life, but no one really appreciates that.

This film is about some high points in Reshma Pathan’s life.... Men used to do all the stunts. It wasn’t easy to break in. She was so brave. She didn’t know whether she would go back home alive. Now she does it for her passion. It was great working on the film

Bidita Bag

You’ve had your share of struggles too. What about Reshma’s life inspired you?

That she is unbreakable. Eto strength ekta mohilar ki kore hoi?! Men used to do all the stunts. It wasn’t easy to break in. She has even done stunts with tiger, bull and horse, completely learnt on the job. She was so brave. She didn’t know whether she would go back home alive. Now she does it for her passion. So, it was great working on the film. Though prochur maar kheyechhi and from different camera angles...! (Laughs) But action gives you a different high. Balancing is the trick and you have to take your co-star into confidence.

You are exploring the web space...

My focus is not web, but they are experimenting a lot with different kinds of content. It’s evolving. The reach is great. Earlier web meant going to Goa and canning slapstick and sex scenes. Bouma was my first web work (on Voot, co-starring Paran Bandyopadhyay and Rajatava Dutta), a 10-minute short film (a comic take on patriarchy), based in the 1960s, adapted from a Roald Dahl short story. We shot it in Calcutta.

And you are back in Calcutta to shoot another web short...

Srijitda (Mukherji) is doing a web series on Satyajit Ray’s short stories, adapted to today’s times. I shot with Kay Kay Menon for a couple of days.

Srijitda has a different perspective. Many didn’t like Nirbaak, but I liked the way he handled it and loved some parts of it.

What is coming up next?

Teen Do Paanch with Shreyas Talpade will release and another web series called Bhaukaal for Applause Entertainment. Harman Baweja is the producer and it has Mohit Raina. I think finally my time has come.

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