Actress Moushumi Chatterjee says she is fortunate to have been cast in a full-fledged role in Aparna Sen’s next film Goynar Baksho (Jewellery Box), which she feels has done justice to her age. The 59-year-old actress, who enlivened the screen by portraying sweet next-door girls in both Hindi and Bengali films, says the role in Goynar Baksho has increased her appetite to do ‘good’, ‘meaningful’ work.
“Unlike Aparna Sen’s earlier film The Japanese Wife, where too I played the role of an old aunt immersed in her own world at a remote Indian village, here I am partly real and partly imaginary,” Moushumi said.
She said she would be privileged to be a part of any next Aparna Sen project as well. “May be only a director like Aparna Sen can think in an out-of-the-box fashion on such an issue, weaving the tale of a girl around a jewellery box,” Moushumi said.
She said she had relived her Balikabodhu days during the shooting for the film which is based on a short story by leading Bengali novelist Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay. Moushumi regretted that big ticket producers and directors in Bengal hardly considered her for their projects in the intervening phase after Uttam Kumar starrer Ogo Bodhu Sundari which was released decades ago.
“I don’t believe in PRs. Everybody knows how I am. My works will prove. Tell your directors why can’t they consider me for a role befitting my age?” she asked.
The actress was floored by Bengali film Bhooter Bhabisoyt which has set a benchmark in the comic genre and is being remade in Hindi. Aparna said her film Goynar Baksho could be considered a metaphor indicating the changing status of women in society.
“The film which covers three generations of women, indicates how the situation and position of women keep changing with the jewellery box at the centre. Jewellery used to denote the economic independence of women at one time, called ‘streedhan’,” Aparna said.
When asked about Moushumi, she said, “What can I say about Moushumi? She has just wonderful comic timing. I have been planning to cast her for long.”
Set up in the period of Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971 and hinting at the Partition angle, the film uses, what Aparna described, ‘magic realism’ with the time and social developments serving as reference points.
“I have sought to retain the fantasy element by incorporating unrealistic elements and it is my first film with special effects,” the director of genre-bending films like 36 Chowringhee Lane and Mr and Mrs Iyer said.
“As a director, I have tried different things in this film, something I’ve never done before,” said Aparna.
Goynar Baksho also stars her daughter Konkona Sen Sharma, who will be seen playing Somlata, the demure bride. Talking about the performance of Konkona, Aparna said, “Koko internalises the script and always comes up with an original and very unconventional performance. I couldn’t conceive Somlata the way she has brought it to life, but her portrayal is not weird.”
“I had a talk with Shirshenduda and told him that I need to make necessary changes in the story. He agreed,” Aparna said.
The movie, produced by Venkatesh Films, has a star cast of Saswata Chatterjee and mainstream Bengali film’s top female lead Srabonti among others.