The film Swastik Sanket, which releases on January 21, is based on the best-selling Bengali novel Narak Sanket written by Debarati Mukhopadhyay. In the film, directed by Sayantan Ghosal, Rudrani (Nusrat Jahan) is invited to London by her publisher to inaugurate the international edition of her book on cryptography. She meets an elusive man, Schumacher, who requests her to decrypt the puzzles left behind by her grandfather — clues that can lead to a cure for cancer. While Rudrani, along with her engineer husband Priyam (Gaurav Chakrabarty), takes on the challenge, what she doesn’t realise is that she is getting sucked into a pool of dangerous international conspiracy. A The Telegraph chat with Nusrat....
What made you say yes to Swastik Sanket?
The plot of the film made me say yes. The backdrop sounded so interesting to me, it had a lot of history, geography, maths (smiles)... Hitler, Netaji, and two Bengali characters who live in present time and somehow get into trouble and how they resolve the mystery going back in the past. We are living in pandemic times and we have included that in the film.
You have said that Rudrani is one of your favourite characters. Why? Tell us more about Rudrani? What makes her so special?
Rudrani is very special to me and I have tried to portray her as she has been written by Debarati in her novel. Rudrani is a very simple girl... she has a very sweet and kind side to her. She is very passionate about cryptography. And she wants to resolve certain issues by using her passion. That’s how they get into trouble. To save humanity, they go into the past to resolve a problem in present time. She is a tigress, she is fearless... she breaks down like any other normal human being but she gets up and fights till the end. She likes taking risks... and she is very observant, intelligent and knowledgeable and I find her one of the most glamorous characters because of her intelligence. That’s her best accessory.
How was the shoot experience in London? Did you get time to sightsee?
It was pretty cold there. We had to follow a lot of rules since we were shooting during a pandemic. The overall experience was lovely. I didn’t get time to go sightseeing since we were shooting vigorously from morning to night... we had to do a lot in a small period of time. Nobody has shown London in the way we are going to show in this film... we have shot in real locations... a bunker that has been turned into a museum. We have shot there. We got to learn so much... the locations were amazing.
Nusrat in Swastik Sanket, releasing in theatres on January 21.
How was it like working with Gaurav and Sayantan?
Let me talk about Sayantan first. He comes up to me with the script and I ask him, ‘How old are you?!’ Because I thought how can a young guy like him direct a film of this huge scale?! (smiles) I had not seen his earlier work but I knew that he was doing really well. After working with him I realised that he is one of the most hassle-free directors in today’s time. He is very clear-headed and he effortlessly takes care of every minute detail which is important to the film. He tells the story in a beautiful way. He is a good storyteller.
I had worked with Gaurav before in Crisscross. He is a very sweet co-actor and very serious when it comes to work. Both of us would be moving around with the script always. This film demanded a lot of homework... and a lot of seriousness and focus was required to play such characters. We have tried to bring about the innocence, the friendship that they have in a relationship. They are college friends who get married. They have each other’s back in the whole film and together they take up the challenges... they face everything together. They share a sweet relationship where Rudrani is the strict one and Priyam is a little jovial. I feel people are going to like this pairing.
What would you say is the best part about Swastik Sanket?
The best part is that it has all the elements that a Bengali movie-goer will love to watch. There’s Netaji in it and Bengalis have a special emotion for Netaji. Bengalis love history, Bengalis love mystery and we have it all in this film. Swastik Sanket is crisp, smart and very trendy in today’s times. I’m hoping that it’ll be a trend-setting film. It is relevant in today’s time. It’ll keep people thinking what will happen next and keep them at the edge of their seats.
The film dives into history. Did you get to learn new things while doing the film?
I got to learn a lot of new things. I had to do a lot of research. I had to remember every particular year and incident. The audience will get to revisit chapters of history via my dialogues and explanations. It has been an interesting learning process for me.
Your debut film Shotru released in 2011. You have completed a decade in the movies. How do you look back?
In these 10 years I am thankful to my audience that they have always been beside me. They have seen my films, they have seen me evolve with time, they have seen me taking up different characters in recent times. They have been really supportive. My last performance as Smita in Dictionary was really appreciated by people and the critics. From the time of remake films to my music videos to more content-driven cinema, they have always been there beside me. That’s what matters the most.
What do you think was a turning point in your career?
I really do not know what was the turning point in my career. I have done so many films... maybe initially I was not serious with acting, I was new to the trade, new to the industry... like an youngster I was enjoying the glam show, the stardom thing. But slowly with time I understood that this is my work and I am falling in love with it. I started getting serious with it, and that is the time when realisation struck me hard. And that was probably the turning point of my career.
A decade in films later, what’s your take on choosing a script now?
I am glad that this phase is coming up with a lot of good scripts but for me time management is something that needs to be taken care of. I would prefer spending more time not pushing myself too hard. I would only take up films or do characters that are really challenging for me, that challenges me as an actor, that makes me feel that it is worth my time.
Would you like to act in web shows? What are you looking for in a script?
Of course, as an artiste I am open to working in web shows and OTT platforms provided it gives me that kind of a challenge that I would like to be a part of. If someone comes with an amazing script that I have not done before or a concept that immediately has my heart or my attention then why would I not be a part of it.
Tell us about your latest music video Nach Mayuri Nach? How was it like working with Baba Yadav?
It is always nice working with Baba, we have done a lot of work together ... it took me back to those times when we used to do dance numbers and add a little more glam and colour to our lives... it was a good opportunity for me to put on my dancing shoes. I am thankful to the whole team for bringing up Mayuri and it is reaching out to a huge number of audiences. I am thankful to them. I am glad people are liking it.
Do you have questions for Nusrat? Tell firstname.lastname@example.org