Srabanti Chatterjee and Sauraseni Maitra on Sada Ronger Prithibi

The film’s plot advances with a young police officer investigating one such shelter little knowing about the dangers awaiting her as she disguises herself as one of the inmates to unearth the truth.
Srabanti (L); Sauraseni
Srabanti (L); Sauraseni

Filmmaker Raajhorshee De’s upcoming film Sada Ronger Prithibi explores the world of widows in Varanasi and how criminal masterminds exploit helpless women. The film’s plot advances with a young police officer investigating one such shelter little knowing about the dangers awaiting her as she disguises herself as one of the inmates to unearth the truth. Actors Srabanti Chatterjee and Sauraseni Maitra play pivotal roles in the film. We chat with these talented actors on a barge ride across the Hooghly river. Excerpts:

Tell us about the film.

Sauraseni: The film is not just important but very relevant in today’s times. The film will make the audience rethink certain things, some truths that we know of, but don’t really talk about. It also talks about a lot of unsaid wishes of women. So, this will be an eye-opener. Also, it has various layers. We have touched upon the stories of widows, what goes on under the garb of charity organisations or NGOs, the political pressure, and how widow sexual trafficking works.

Tell us about your characters.

Sauraseni: I play Olokkhi. She comes to Mukti Mandap (the widow ashram) and unravels the racket that goes on there. The character has so many layers that it is very difficult to pinpoint any one of those.

Srabanti: I play a double role — Shibani and Bhabani, and one of them is a negative character. Both are firsts for me. While Shibani is a widow herself and works for the welfare of widows, Bhabani, as you can see in the trailer, is the negative character.

How difficult was it to play a double role?

Srabanti: It comes with years of acting practice, but honestly, I was a little tense since I’ve never played a negative character before. Everyone has seen me playing positive, cutesy, bubbly characters, but I never realised that even I have a ‘Bhabani’ inside me. Shooting was a bit difficult at times. On many days it happened that we shot sequences that had both characters, on the same day…played one character, changed the look, and switched to the other character. Both the characters are completely different from one another.

How difficult was it to prepare for the characters?

Sauraseni: We all know how rapidly the number of sex trafficking cases in India is growing. We just choose not to talk about it. The characters that we played forced us to rethink these situations. Srabanti: Honestly, we didn’t even know many things that we came to know through the script. We rarely talk about widow trafficking. But how they are suffering, getting tortured and also as women how they are deprived of certain things, even in this era.

Sauraseni, you are paired with Rwitobroto again. How was the experience working with him?

It was very interesting because after Generation Ami released, Rwitobroto and I have always been looked at as a brother and sister, and director Raajhorshee De has broken that notion. While we were playing our roles in Sada Ronger Prithibi as Olokkhi and Sunil, it was rather difficult and challenging for both of us because our chemistry is very much like siblings.

Could you share some anecdotes from the shooting?

Sauraseni: People say that handling women is difficult, they’ll fight, but on the contrary, since there were only a few men, we really enjoyed!

Srabanti: We really had a great time shooting in Varanasi. Every evening, we headed out to try local dishes like litti chokha, lassi and chaat, and the crew had to repeatedly call us to go back to the shoot. There was no end to our gossip sessions. The daily picnics almost became primary.

Sara Ronger Prithibi releases today

Pictures by Pritam Sarkar

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