Rajlokhi 2.0: Indulge catches up with Tollwood's next It girl, Jyotika Jyoti, ahead of her debut
This year’s most awaited debutante has nothing to prove - she’s already one of the most accomplished names in Bangladesh, has worked with multiple national award-winning filmmakers, and has a resume featuring astounding theatre cred and over 200 sitcoms. But that’s not to say Jyotika Jyoti isn’t anxious about her Tollywood debut. Rajlokhi O Srikanto, which premieres this month is the hotly anticipated screen adaptation based on chapter one of the canonical Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay novel of the same name. Helmed by National Award-winning director Pradipta Bhattacharya, the film is a rebellious urbane take on the literary work, and has Jyotika playing Rajlokhi or Pyaribai, opposite Ritwick Chakraborty, who plays Srikanto.
Tell us a little about how your first Tollywood project came about
I was in Kolkata, working on a short film in 2015, that was also my first time in the city. Two of my films were also being screened in festivals here, and that gave me the courage to take things further in the industry. We were staying at the SRFTI guest house, and our dinner arrived from a place called Puran Dhaka (which translates to Old Dhaka), and I found that intriguing. The food was incredible too. The next day we went looking for that place and we found out that the eatery was owned by Sujoy Nag, who was the brother of the acclaimed filmmaker Sanjoy Nag.
We got to talking and discovered we had a lot of common friends from Bangladesh. I remember I had told him I wanted to work here, and shared some of my work. We talked about directors who were doing good work in Bengali cinema, and he told me about Pradipta. A few weeks later I met Pradipto da at the Bangladesh film festival, and he briefly narrated to me the script of the film.
Tell us about your experience of the shoot
I was under quite a bit of stress because it’s a new industry and my first film, that too, with some really prolific names. And I would ask people on my set what they thought of my performance. They told me, “Etai to Rajlokhi, (you are the only Rajlokhi), we can’t think of anyone else in the role”. Pradipto had told me eventually that he would have cast someone from outside Bengal if not me. Interestingly, even the story of the film has a small connection to Bangladesh
The film is a really adventurous take on the classic
Yes, the novel is so widely read and almost everyone’s read it. Weirdly enough, I wanted to see the old screen adaptations of the novel, but was asked not to. I had read the novel many years ago, but I was asked not to re-read it for the film. I was asked to connect to this story and adapt it in my own way. To me, this Rajlokhi is more humane, and bolder. And she’s a struggler. Our script has a huge social relevance and the script is not just a one-dimensional love story, it is a reflection on the society as well.
How do you think Tollywood films are different from Bangladeshi films
I would say the difference lies in the storytelling. Tollywood is quite ahead in some aspects. What’s happening here now, is being attempted by many filmmakers over there, but they don’t always find the right support or the market. I also find Tollywood to be incredibly professional in its approach.