After Rani of Jhansi, Kangana Ranaut is all set to play another notable woman from the past. Kangana will morph into Bengali theatre legend Binodini Dasi, better known as Noti Binodini, for a Hindi film to be directed by Pradeep Sarkar.
The script has been penned by Prakash Kapadia, who wrote the script for Devdas and Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior. Sarkar is known for films like Parineeta and Mardaani.
Born and raised in Kolkata, Binodini emerged as the most famous stage actress of 19th century Bengal. In a career spanning 12 years, she played over 80 roles including those of Sita, Draupadi, Radha, Kaikeyi and Motibibi. Her mentor was another theatre legend, Girish Ghosh. Binodini was also a memoirist, her book Amar Jiban being a testimony to her extraordinary life.
Rituparno Ghosh’s Abohomaan: Ananya Chatterjee as Binodini
At the centre of Rituparno Ghosh’s 2010 film Abohomaan is the relationship between an artist and his muse, which the filmmaker explored through three time periods. One of the story arcs deals with the dynamics of Binodini’s (Ananya Chatterjee) relationship with her mentor Girish Ghosh (Sumanta Mukherjee).
In another track, filmmaker Aniket Majumder’s (Dipankar De) ‘affair’ with actress Sikha (also played by Ananya Chatterjee) finds a resonance in Binodini’s affection for Girish Ghosh. With this nuanced portrayal of the contours of the bond between a mentor and his apprentice, Rituparno raised the bar really high for anyone attempting a film on Noti Binodini. Abohomaan fetched Ananya Chatterjee her first National Award for Best Actress.
Dinen Gupta’s Nati Binodini: Debasree Roy as Binodini
Debasree Roy slipped into the titular role in the 1994 film Nati Binodini directed by Dinen Gupta, which had Dilip Roy as Girish Ghosh. The cast also included Prosenjit Chatterjee, Anup Kumar and Sumitra Mukherjee.
The film depicts the struggles of Binodini Dashi, a girl born in a brothel who is introduced to stage performance by Girish Ghosh and the sacrifices she made as she devoted herself to theatre. Binodini’s encounter with Ramakrishna Paramhansa is a turning point in the film where she decides to never go back to her old life. Debasree Roy’s graceful portrayal brings the theatre legend to life on screen.
Srijit Mukherji’s Lawho Gouranger Naam Re: Priyanka Sarkar as Binodini
In Srijit Mukherji’s upcoming film Lawho Gouranger Naam Re, Priyanka Sarkar plays Noti Binodini. Actor-politician Bratya Basu has been cast as Girish Ghosh, while Parambrata Chattoapadhay will be seen as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the 15th century religious reformer of Bengal.
Kamal Mukherjee's Binodiini - Ekti Natir Upakhyan: Rukmini Maitra as Binodini
Binodiini - Ekti Natir Upakhyan, to be directed by Ram Kamal Mukherjee, will follow Binodini’s theatre career and tell the story of her rise to fame at a young age. Rukmini Maitra will play Binodini in this period piece being presented by Dev Entertainments Venture.
In a teaser poster unveiled by the makers, Rukmini was seen as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, a character that Binodini played on stage. This biopic will be shot by cinematographer Modhura Palit in Bengal and Benaras, and will release on the Bengali New Year in 2023.
Noti Binodini on the small screen
A TV show based on the life of Noti Binodini aired on the channel Aakash Aath in 2019, starring Swagata Sen in the lead role. It focused on the struggle of a lone woman to make a mark in a man’s world. The show begins when Noti Binodini joined theatre under the mentorship of Girish Ghosh. At a time when women were expected to remain within the boundaries of the andarmahal (inner sanctum of a house), Binodini carved a niche for herself on stage despite stiff resistance from the moral guardians of society.