Classic comeback

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 4.06.04

Two ladies swishing silk and georgette and a tall dark gentleman from National School of Drama, Delhi. Anjan Das’ Iti Srikanta slated for a Friday premiere is a quaint mix — Bollywood actor Reema Sen as Rajlakshmi, Adil as Srikanta and Soha Ali Khan as Kamallata.

On Thursday, the film’s cast, crew and technicians gathered at Tantra for a sneak peek into the period piece, reading out extracts from the script alongside a screening of some clips from the film.

The star-spangled evening started off with director Das explaining his decision to film Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s charismatic fictive character.

“Several films have been made on Srikanta but all these had mainly dealt with specific chapters from Srikanta, the novel. I wanted to present the complete man — his inner conflict and turmoil over the two women in his life, torn between a baiji and a vaishnavi,” said Das, who thinks the crises faced by Srikanta are still very relevant. Iti Srikanta is “possibly the fifth celluloid” adaptation of the novel.

“But I was a little apprehensive about handling the content. I knew my form had to be perfect to present the characters that had been etched so well in the script,” Das added.

Giving a glimpse of the lines penned by Shantasree Sarkar and Rajarshi Roy, a script-reading session followed with Soha and Adil.

Flashing the smile made famous by mother Sharmila Tagore, Soha read out the scene where the two meet in ‘her’ Bengali.

“The film is precious because it’s my first and also because I have always wanted to do a Bengali film. Playing Kamallata was very challenging. I respect her spiritual wisdom and serenity. I want to be like her. Shooting in Santiniketan was fun too,” chirped Sharmila and Tiger Pataudi’s youngest daughter.

For stage actor Adil, who had met Das quite by chance at a Delhi film festival some two years ago, playing Srikanta was “wonderful and difficult” at the same time. “I was a bit daunted by the fact that the role had been essayed by Uttam Kumar before,” he admitted.

Getting under the skin of Rajlakshmi proved challenging for Reema, too. “I am more used to the song-and-dance scenes. But the director helped me understand the role,” said Reema.

To set the tone for the period film ambience, tabla exponent Bikram Ghosh wove some Hindustani classical pieces, a kirtan and a Meera bhajan into the background music. Several raagas have been used to reflect the moods of specific scenes. “No experiments, no digressions here,” read the letter which Bikram had sent for the occasion.