National Award winner Srijit Mukherji’s Bollywood debut feature Begum Jaan will bring a renewed focus on the sex workers community, he said.
A Hindi adaptation of Mukerji’s critically-acclaimed Bengali outing Rajkahini, Begum Jaan sees Vidya Balan play a brothel owner in a story of survival set against the backdrop of the Partition. The film releases on April 14. “It will absolutely bring in a renewed focus. It’s a story of survival. They are human beings who have their code of conduct, they have families, they have relationships... it’s very unfair to discriminate against them or put them aside as marginal sections,” said Mukerji.
Mukerji also refuted reports that said Vidya interacted with sex workers in Kolkata’s Sonagachi red light area to prepare for her role. “It has been wrongly reported. In 2011, I had made a film called Baishe Shrabon during which I had shot portions of the film in Sonagachi. That is when I got exposed to the lives of these people and I got to talk to few of them so when I was making Begum Jaan, I incorporated the knowledge there,” he explained.
As for now, Mukerji has five Hindi films and two Bengali films in the pipeline. “Out of the five, couple are remakes of my Bengali films Hemlock Society and Chotushkone. I am waiting for the actors to come back,” Mukerji added, declining to comment further on the future projects.