She returns to her roots

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By Reshmi Sengupta
  • Published 23.10.05

Jaya Bachchan is returning to her roots. In her new-found role as producer, she is throwing her weight behind Rituparno Ghosh?s Antarmahal, a Bengali film with Mumbai stars.

Rituparno had initially financed Antarmahal, a 19th century period piece starring Jackie Shroff, Abhishek Bachchan, Soha Ali Khan and Rupa Ganguly, but later sold off the creative rights to AB Corp and Vasu Bhagnani. This marks AB Corp?s debut in regional films.

?The determining factor in choosing Antarmahal was Ritu (Rituparno). He is someone I am very fond of and have known him for many years. Also, the subject, which is typically Ritu. It?s very dynamic, different and interesting,? Jaya told Metro from Mumbai, adding that son Abhishek was just an ?afterthought?.

?Antarmahal is about women. It?s about oppression, but that is not restricted to women alone. The film was screened at the Locarno film festival and the audience there just loved it. In fact, they were depressed that the film didn?t get any kind of recognition in terms of awards. They found it very strong and hard-hitting, which the film is,? says Jaya.

And the erotic element that became a talking point at Locarno? ?Well, that element is inherent in the film?s subject. There?s a zamindar who wants an heir. So he uses his two wives and he also goes out to other women,? reasons Jaya.

More than how Antarmahal does the rounds of the international film festivals, the celebrated producer has her sights set on the home front. ?Most importantly, Indian audiences must see Antarmahal. The film looks very Indian, and the subject is very Indian? It?s also a very Bengali film,? feels Jaya, adding that ?three actors from Mumbai don?t make much of a difference? to how the audience would perceive the film.

Calcutta apart, AB Corp will simultaneously release Antarmahal in Delhi and Mumbai on October 28. ?And I would dare to release Antarmahal with English and Hindi sub-titles in multiplexes outside Bengal. Multiplexes are where not only parallel films, but also regional films are screened,? says Jaya, who will attend the Calcutta premiere along with Soha Ali Khan this Friday at Fame (Hiland Park).

As a full-time director, Jaya says she spends as much time as she can at AB Corp. ?And I would love to produce more regional films. But not down south, because it has a big market and its own producers. I think the Bengali, Marathi and Gujarati film industries could do with a little bit of help from outside producers. I am just getting to know the market as a producer, though I know it as an actor, and also learning to deal with the market more sensitively.?

Chetana’s Nirnay at the festival last year

Fourth innings

Here?s something for theatre lovers to look forward to next week ? a festival on the open-air stage of a housing complex.

To be held in two phases, the fourth edition of the Greenwood Park Theatre Festival, hosted by Bengal Shrachi Housing Development Limited, will provide a platform for theatrical talent from the districts.

The first phase will have groups from six districts performing over three days, between October 24 and 26, in the open-air theatre at Greenwood Park, in New Town, Rajarhat.

?Our focus is on the theatre groups from the districts as they seldom get to showcase their talents. This year, we have increased the number of participating troupes to six and a few coming from far will be lodged in the complex. This time, there will be street theatre too,? said Rahul Todi, managing director, Bengal Shrachi Housing Development Ltd, a joint venture between the West Bengal Housing Board and Shrachi Group.

?For the audience, we will create the environment of a theatre village, with food stalls and other decorations,? Todi added.

The groups will compete for three awards ? the Utpal Dutt Samman (Lifetime Achievement Award), the Tripti Mitra Samman (Best Production Award) and the Bijon Bhattacharya Smarak Samman (District Award).

The second phase will be held at GD Birla Sabhagar, on October 27 and 28. An audio drama and a stage performance of Pratham Path by Ramaprasad Banik are slated for October 27. The following day features the award ceremony and a performance by the winning group.

The six groups are Abhineyo from Howrah, Kompass from Coochbehar, Dakshiner Baranda from Kakdwip, Shilpayan from North 24-Parganas, Shantipur Sanskritik from Nadia and Rwitick from Behrampore.

Santoor exponent Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma will be in town to pick the best teams in the first phase. The jury for the final round is led by film-maker Goutam Ghose, and also boasts Rupa Ganguly and Satabdi Roy.

She?s a probashi Bangali, trained at NSD and recommended for Subrata Sen?s Bibar by Nandana Dev Sen. ?I am playing an upper-class call girl, who is straight forward and knows how she can get what she wants,? says Tannistha Chatterjee, shooting in a Ballygunge house. The sultry actress will soon be seen in Florian Gallenberger?s Shadows of Time and a host of Hindi films, from Strings with Adam Bedi to Divorce with Jackie Shroff. Picture by Aranya Sen