After Rituparna Sengupta’s noteworthy performance in Srijit Mukherji’s Bengali film Rajkahini (2015), many thought the director would also cast her in his Hindi debut Begum Jaan. So, it obviously raised many eyebrows when Srijit roped in Vidya Balan to play the role. Now when the film has failed to make a mark at the box office, while the Bengali film was a hit, the whole Rituparna-Vidya issue is in news again. Srijit points out that as Bollywood was new to him, he was determined to not repeat himself.
“Begum Jaan was a new journey that I undertook. So I was not looking forward to repeating any elements of my old journey. Not just Rituparna I didn’t even repeat any other actor from Rajkahini. Although the plot points and the number of characters are same, the background of each of these characters is different, the arcs of each of these characters are different, and the milieu is different. There is also a contemporary twist in Begum Jaan. Given all these differences I wanted to explore everything afresh,” says the National Award-winning director.
Srijit’s decision of casting Vidya did upset Rituparna. The Bengali actor was even quoted as saying that she had no idea that the director had someone else in mind for his Hindi film. However things were resolved, and Rituparna was even seen promoting the film. “Rituparna is cooperative and understanding enough to not give importance to such things. She is a close friend,” he adds.
Srijit was upset when Rituparna didn’t receive a National Award for her performance in Rajkahini. “I sincerely thought she gave it all and totally broke herself for the role. So, I was disappointed when she didn’t win a National Award for it. But that doesn’t mean her performance was any less. Whenever there is a role worth her talent I would definitely work with her again,” says Srijit, who is known for his Bengali films such as Autograph (2010), Hemlock Society (2012) and Chotushkone (2014).
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