Interview: Gracy Singh, Sayali Bhagat, Govinda & Subhasish Mukherjee on SAMADHI Bangla Movie: Preview, Story From Shooting Floor

By Mousumi Sarkar / WBRINN

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Kolkata, June 19 (Washington Bangla Radio): With the resurgence of Tollywood, it is being seen in new light and is attracting Bollywood actors to be a part of it. One such example is “Samadhi”, and first time producer Pintu Mandal is producing a dramatic triangular love story. Deepankar Senapati and Deepak Sanyal are directing the film jointly.

Gracy Singh in Kolkata
Gracy Singh

Interestingly, this brings together Bolly actors Govinda, Gracy Singh, Sayali Bhagat along with popular Bangladeshi actor Ferdous Ahmed who is quite popular in Kolkata Bengali film circuit too on the silver screen. Govinda, who has been not doing too many Hindi films nowadays be making his debut in Bengali movies in Samadhi as a policeman. Gracy Singh – the ‘Lagaan’ girl, who left the audience charmed with her subtle performance, will be seen playing a village girl in love with the male lead. Ferdous Ahmed plays the lead in love with a city girl. Sayali Bhagat, the former Miss World, plays the city girl and is expected to add glamour and a bit of extra spice to the story.

Sayali Bhagat in Kolkata
Sayali Bhagat and Firdous

Washington Bangla Radio reached the shooting sopt at Durgapur and witnessed the action unfolding under the spotlight. It was another shooting day for the cast and crew of Samadhi – actors going through their scripts, make-up men and women moving in and out of the vanity van, camera man arranging the camera, positioning and repositioning it, choreographers showing the moves while the crowed observed everything.

Sayali Bhagat was spotted as soon as we entered the set. Dressed in a traditional lehenga that, she waited for her shot. When asked about her reaction when she was offered the role, she had to say, “I was looking for one good opportunity to work in a Bengali film. In fact, two months ago I and my mother visited Kolkata. As she is very fond of poetry, she has also made a compilation of poems in which a few of Rabindranath Tagore’s poems are also included. She sent them to Thakurbari and Shantiniketan. Through that time I was influenced to work in Bengali films”. She then adds, “By the stroke of luck after two months I was offered this role. I thought this was a very good opportunity and especially when I read the character I was more convinced that I must do this. I am very happy that I am doing this film”.

The eyes twinkled as she spoke, well aware of the eyes speculating her adjusting in the Bengali film industry. She is honest to answer, “As I am not quiet familiar with Bengali language, I couldn’t have the opportunity of watching Bengali films but I like to read Bengali scripts. I have watched several Bollywood adaptations of Bengali movies. I have watched a number of films of Rituparno Ghosh. I liked Chokher Bali very much. I do have an understanding of Bengali movies”.

Govinda in Kolkata

Her jewellery adorned hands gestured and tried to emphasize her words. When asked about her homework to adopt the Bengali accent, she spontaneously answered, “I pick from the regular conversation around me. Even though I cannot answerback in Bengali, I have asked everyone to talk to me in Bengali. I can understand the language and by the time the film gets ready for dubbing, I think I could be able to dub for myself. I love learning new languages. I have done Tamil and Telegu films.  A Punjabi film of mine will also be releasing soon”. Asked about her communicating with Ferdous, she is quick to answer, “He talks to me in Bengali and I reply him in Hindi”.

Govinda in Kolkata

When asked about her character in the movie she readily discloses, “I play a college girl in the movie that has a mix of traditional and modern values. There are shades to her character and I love it. It is her journey to find her roots”

As she spoke with unhindered spontaneity Ferdous Ahmed Dressed up as a Lord Krishna emerged with Subhashish Mukherjee.

Ferdous was led to the set to deliver his shot as we caught up with Subhasish Mukherjee for a brief conversation.

Question: What is your role in the movie?

I am playing a very challenging role here. The character name is Shambhu. The role is of a servant of the female protagonist’s father. He is serving the family for a long time. He plays a very crucial role at the most sensitive juncture of the film.

I take the characters very seriously and try to modify acting along the requirements of the character.

As you are so much involved with the character. Do you carry any hangover back home?

Only alcohols give me hangovers not roles.

[Every one bursts out laughing]

It happens often that I recollect and repeat my dialogues and scenes subconsciously when I am at home and suddenly discover that I could have done a particular shot better. They are basically self review and analysis of the shots and character I play.

How is your experience working with the three Bollywood actors?

Till now we haven’t done a scene together. I have only shared a very small screen time with Sayali Bhagat but it was too small to interact.

You are sharing screen with three very popular stars. Do you think Bollywood stars can add more entertainment quotient to Bengali films? Does that provide an advantage?

It is an absurd idea. Only the presence of Bollywood stars cannot drag a movie to success. It can only compliment it, if the inclusion goes along with the storyline.

As we waited for Govinda to arrive on the sets, we caught up with the gracious Gracy Singh and engaged her in a short chit-chat.

WBRi:  Your debut film you played a village girl and again while you are debuting in Bengali film you are playing a village girl. Do you love playing village girl?

Gracy: No no, she is a combination, she is both. The village girl that I played in Lagaan was different and the girl I play here is different. Though she is from village but she is educated, she has modern values. She is a present day character and thus is far different from Gauri of ‘Lagaan’ a village lass of pre Independent India. My character in the film depicts modern day’s Meerabai”.

WBRi:  How are you picking up the Bengali?

Gracy: It’s a very beautiful language and very easy also. I pick up from the normal conversations and follow the mannerisms around.

WBRi:   How frequently do you watch Bengali films?

Gracy: I do but not very regularly. But I do like to watch a lot of Bengali films like Satyajit Ray’s films and other old Bengali films.

WBRi:   Can you name one?

Gracy:  Charulata. I was planning to do this film. Someone was remaking this film and had a preliminary talk with him. But it never took a flight.

WBRi:   How did the connection with Bengali film happened?

Gracy:  I was planning to do a Bengali film for a very long time but the right script was not coming along my way. Then this story and the character came at the right time.

WBRi:  You have been in Bengal for quite some time. Have you tried any Bengali food? Which one did you liked?

Gracy: I am a vegetarian and a very strict vegetarian. But I have tried the sweets. I liked them. The “mishti doi”. Once I reach Calcutta I will try some more.

WBRi:  You seem to have a magic touch to movies you do. Lagaan was such a success followed by ‘Munna Bhai MBBS’ and ‘Gangajal’.

[Shyly says] Thank you……..I am lucky that my films were highly successful. But at the end of the day it’s a team work that makes a movie successful.

WBRi: As an actor did you have any wish to work with any particular director from Bengal?

Gracy : I love the work of Satyajit Ray, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Aparna Sen and Ritu da. It’s unfortunate to loose such talented people forever.

As the sun began to mellow down declaring a soothing evening, Govinda arrived in a black suit sporting the sunshine smile. His absence from the silver screen for a long time has made this event even more important. He is making a comeback to his audience in a Bengali film. One of the most popular actors of his time who has the same fan following and appeal to the audience. This could be very well understood from the reaction of the gathered mass on the first glimpse of their Hero no.1. “I have received a lot of love and the attitude of Bengal has been very warm every time such that I feel like my own land and I have a right over here. I salute the wonderful people of this land and wish to receive the same throughout. I would like to do more and more work over here and entertain the people”. He further adds, “I am doing this film for Pinu ji because I like him, he is a very nice person by nature. I have worked in the film industry for 29 years but I did not work in Bengali films, so as now I have come I want to work everywhere. I am loving it and enjoying every bit of it. If I ever disappoint the audience just let me know it and I will surely rectify it, I want to give them back the love that they have ushered on me”.

Govinda, the star attraction  met the press at last.

As he is making his comeback to the film industry we could not resist but ask him about his brush with politics and his withdrawal from it. He answered with ease and with convincing honesty, “I have taken myself away from politics, I have learnt a lot from politics and I am very thankful for the lessons. I want to work well and be punctual. I don’t like keeping people waiting. I have been to Durgapur previously and received the same love and affection”.