Even as actress Bidita Bag is preparing for the release of her first Bollywood film From Sydney With Love this week, she is all shaken by memories of a recent village attack, where she witnessed the fury of a mob who mistook her for being a Maoist or a Naxalite.
While renowned filmmaker Prakash Jha, who is directing his next movie Chakravyuh on Naxalites, has stated that he has met them over the years, Bidita went through a terrifying experience of a more dangerous kind on the sets of a Bengali film called ‘Chokher Pani – Tears of Nandigram’!
Recalling her horror, the actress says, “I was shooting for this Bengali film in the sensitive Nandigram village in West Bengal some time ago, when a group of very unruly people thought that the unit comprised of armed Naxalites.”
“The villagers started shouting – ‘
ke naam par logon ko hathiyaar chalane ki training de rahein hain’
(‘These people are providing combat arms training in the garb of a film shoot’). Before we could explain anything, a wild rumour spread and suddenly a mob emerged and started attacking the unit members,” recalls Bidita.
The actress remembers seeing agitated people chase others with swords and even burning nearby houses in a mindless riot, as she ran and hid inside a rice field to save her life!
Bidita’s publicist Dale Bhagwagar adds, the actress told him, she was too shaken, witnessing such animalistic violence and that even the local police and media termed her a Maoist. “Bidita felt helpless and traumatized in the village. But luckily for the unit members, she did not give up shooting for the film,” he remarks.
As the situation calmed down, the actress is reported to have completed the shooting schedule under police protection and safety assurances by The Rapid Action Force (RAF); the specialized wing of the Indian Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).