Interview: Actress - Singer ILA ARUN on Basheera in West is West and More

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Ila Arun as Basheera in West is WestWashington, DC / Mumbai, March 16, 2013 (Washington Bangla Radio): The very versatile Indian actress and singer Ila Arun chats with Sayantanee Dutt of WBRi in an enchanting interview about her internationally acclaimed film West is West, where she brilliantly portrays George Khan's (Om Puri) first wife Basheera living in Pakistan, her singing and acting careers and much more.

The Bengalees in our audience will also celebrate Ila Arun's love for macher jhol, mishti doi, rosogolla and even chocchori. Do not miss her flawless Bengali speech in parts of the interview!

Arun talks in depth about her role in West is West - a film which is essentially about the agony and ecstacy of being a woman. Basheera (picture at right) is an abandoned wife of George Khan who migrated to England leaving her behind. She has lived 35 years dreaming of a better life while her husband goes and makes another life for himself complete with another wife and children. George brings his son from his 2nd marriage home to Paksitan after 35 years, and soon his British wife Ella Khan (Linda Bassett) also arrives in Pakistan. In one well-acclaimed and striking scene in West is West,  Ella and Basheera meet. Basheera does not speak or understand English, and Ella likewise for Punjabi - but they still somehow communicate and empathize with each other's situations. This scene has been much talked about, and generated tears - many have said this scene reflects their own stories. Arun recalls a woman from Brazil who was crying at the screening of West is West in Doha film festival, and expresses gratitude for director Andy De Emmony and producer Leslee Udwin for understanding the trauma of many Asian women, or generally for women world-wide for that matter. "My silence spoke everything in the film - a great role for any woman - any actress - to play", says Arun, who goes into much more depth describing Basheera as you will hear.

Watch "West is West" Film Online.

WEST IS WEST is the sequel to the internationally acclaimed and successful film “EAST IS EAST”, a ground-breaking film which broke down cultural barriers in the UK and around the world. The first break-out multiplex hit film which dealt meaningfully with cultural diversity.

WEST IS WEST is now available for download to own or streaming on demand for rent for very little money - click here to download or watch this wonderful film >

West is West in actually shot inside the Indian side of the border with Pakistan, in Punjab near Chandigarh where the language and culture is indistinguishable from the other side. "The land is same, the fields are same, the people are same", says Arun, lamenting at the artificial delineation by politics.

Arun has known Om Puri for a long time - she was studying at the National School of Drama at the same time Om Puri was a student there. A prodigy of Shyam Benegal and Govind Nihalani, Om Puri is also a true Punjabi who cannot hide his feelings, says Arun.

Arun also talks in depth about her experience working with celebrated directors like Rajkumar Santoshi, Ashutosh Gowariker, Shyam Benegal and Govind Nihalani. One of the things she points out about great directors is that they all are very sensitive and respectful of their writers and actors and value their contribution. "When working with such directors, you learn not only how to act, but how to live life", says Arun.

As you know, Ila Arun is also a renowned Rajasthani Folk singer. Her next album is ready and releasing soon.

Ila Arun is also no stranger to us here in Washington, DC - she has delivered a lecture and demonstration at the Smithsonian.

Linda Bassett (left) as Ella Khan and Ila Arun as Basheera in West is West

Sayantanee DuttAn ardent recitation and elocution enthusiast, RJ Sayantanee Dutt lives in Fremont, CA and writes and anchors Pashchimi's popular Bangla radio show "Robibarer Ashor" on Radio Zindagi 1550 AM broadcasting in the San Francisco Bay area. Some of her wonderful recitation recordings have been featured on WBRi available on-demand in this post

Article by Supratim Sanyal, Washington, DC.