Actor Tillotama Shome, fondly remembered as Alice from Monsoon Wedding, makes her first mainstream film appearance in director Dibakar Banerjee’s Shanghai. She plays Dr Ahmedi’s (Prosenjit Chatterjee) wife, Aruna Ahmedi, a character inspired by Vinita Kamte, whose husband, a police officer, was killed during the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai.
Dibakar says about Tillotama’s character, “Aruna Ahmedi is perhaps my favourite character in Shanghai. While he (Dr Ahmedi) is on the road charming millions, she stays at home fighting legal cases that she thinks achieves more than her husband’s public histrionics.”
Shome, on her part, is in awe of Dibakar and his work. “Dibakar has a way with conjuring up a character, analysing the ramifications of a scene, and it all comes pouring out of him during the rehearsals and before the scene,” she says, and adds, “He is also an uncompromising realist. On my first day of the shoot, we finished a rather emotional scene. He patted my back and said, ‘Good work. Let’s just hope it stays after the edit.’ I could have punched him.”
Shome admits that preparing for this hard-hitting role was a challenge. “He (Dibakar) asked me to prepare for my role by observing Vinita’s public appearances, where she is stoic and unemotional, despite dealing with a huge personal loss. That was a great entry point for me into preparing for Aruna,” explains Shome.
Any future projects? “I’m going to start work on Q’s (maker of Gandu) Bengali film, Tasher Desh, and then I will play the lead in Anup Singh Batla’s film, Qissa, opposite Irrfan,” says Shome.