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City stage to foreign screen
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City stage to foreign screen


Ramanjit Kaur with Preity Zinta in Videsh

Stage definitely has its exciting moments but film she feels is creative in its own different way. Ramanjit Kaur, who has founded her own theatre group in the city called The Creative Arts, is the Calcutta connection in Deepa Mehta’s Videsh. Playing her first major screen role as the sister-in-law of Preity Zinta, the stage actress tells t2 about the challenge of playing a dormant character, working with Preity and performing in the play that has inspired several strands in the film.


How did Deepa Mehta happen to cast you in Videsh?

I’ve known Deepa from a very young age. She was a close friend of my director Neelam Mansingh Chowdhury whose theatre group I’ve been working with in Chandigarh for more than two decades. Deepa would often come to watch our plays and in 2007 she came to watch our play Naga Mandala in Delhi. It’s a play by Girish Karnad and was directed by Neelam where I was playing the lead role along with Vansh Bharadwaj. Deepa was very inspired by the story and the performances and decided to weave bits and pieces of the play into her story about a woman’s plight in Canada. The play tells the story of Rani who gets married to Shyama who doesn’t love her. He locks her up every night and goes away to another woman he’s having a relationship with. A blind woman puts magic potion in his food to make him fall in love but when it doesn’t work she throws it in the snake pit. The shesh nag drinks the potion and falls in love with Rani so he comes to her every night in the form of her husband. Deepa liked the duality of illusion and reality as a means of survival, which is mythological to a certain extent. She cast Vansh as Preity’s husband Rocky and called me one fine day and said “Raman, will you play Aman, Rocky’s sister in the film?” Without a second thought or even reading the script properly I said yes.

Yes, in 1995 Deepa offered me a role in Fire as the young Radha’s mother. It was a short role but a trigger-off point for Radha, played by Shabana Azmi, who was seen reflecting upon that moment with her mother thrice in the film. After this I never paid much attention to films and television shows but as a performer I felt the need to explore another medium beyond stage. So Deepa’s offer came at a good time.

Aman is the sister of the male lead called Rocky played by Vansh. He gets married to Chand played by Preity Zinta and I get to be her sister-in-law. I have two children and an unemployed husband (Gourrav Sihan). All my life I’ve done deep and passionate roles but this was very different. Aman speaks very little. Her circumstances make her accept life that is harsh.

We had a 10-day workshop in Toronto with Neelam Mansingh before starting to shoot in November 2007. From India there was Preity, Vansh and me and the rest of the cast were all television and film actors of Indian descent but living in Toronto. Neelam made us go through a lot of theatre exercises that helped us shed our inhibitions since all of us came from varied backgrounds — Preity is a film star, Vansh and me are stage actors and many of the others from television. We needed to fit in together and be like a Punjabi family for the audience to relate to it. In the film you actually see each character as just that and nothing more. With Deepa I learnt subtlety. She teaches you how silence can speak and how to be visible and heard with just your presence. We shot for one-and-a-half months in Brampton near Toronto. We were all there for the entire length.

With Preity it was real fun. She was also looking forward to how it would be to work with theatre artistes. She would need help with her dialogues in Punjabi and she’d share her technical knowledge about camera and lights with us. She’s a very chirpy girl, full of conversation and very very lively. She’d just lighten up the atmosphere. Yet her complete surrender to Deepa helped bring out the intense character she was playing. We had some very nice scenes together. It was a quiet relation about showing concern in grief and giving suggestions in one line. Even when domestic violence happens there’s an internal protest in me but my dependence prevents me from reacting.

Theatre is like a sandcastle. In films even a quiver of the eyebrow is caught on camera. You don’t get to feel the audience but it’s there for posterity.

I’m definitely open and since I live in Calcutta I’d like to start working with good directors like Aparna Sen and Rituparno Ghosh. I have just started reading and writing in Bengali as a part of my homework. I got offers from some new Tollywood directors but did not accept purely because I wasn’t convinced about the story or the characters. I’m waiting for Videsh to release and then I’ll have something to share with directors I want to work with.

Mohua Das


Source Link: The Telegraph, Calcutta
03-19-2009 08:56 PM
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RE: City stage to foreign screen

Deepa Mehta’s ‘Videsh’ release has been preponed


Deepa MehtaDeepa Mehta the talented director is back with a bang! ‘Videsh’ starring Preity Zinta and Vansh Bhardwaj releases in both Hindi and Punjabi and will now hit the theatres on 20th March ’09. Sanjay Bhutiani, CEO of BR Films, the co-producers, informed us that Deepa Mehta would be flying down from Toronto to Mumbai to join Preity in the promotions of ‘Videsh’. They will also be taking going on a multi-city tour to promote the film.

This maverick director who has time and again highlighted tragedies and travesty faced by women is now going to unveil yet another aspect of society which stays behind doors. The film has already released in Canada to an overwhelming response; with Preity Zinta winning the ‘Best Actress’ award at the Chicago film festival, and also getting nominated at the 29th Genie Awards which is the Canadian equivalent to the Oscars. -Sampurn Media


Source Link: Real Bollywood
03-19-2009 11:05 PM
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