Actress Sushmita Sen is currently neck deep in the pre-production work for her ambitious English film Jhansi Ki Rani, which she says is a homage to a woman she admires tremendously.
Making a period film is not an easy job as it involves a lot of risks but the actress is unperturbed.
However, she is ensuring that all the homework is done carefully.
You seem to be totally consumed by the idea of making Jhansi Ki Rani.
You bet! My interest isn't just professional but also personal. By producing Jhansi Ki Rani and casting myself in a role that I've cherished for ever, I'll be paying homage to a woman I admire tremendously.
And how is your project progressing so far?
So far so good. I think we're on the right track. For me Jhansi Ki Rani is the only raison d'etre at the moment. But then the world doesn't come to a standstill for the sake of one's passion. I will continue to fulfil my other obligations as an actor.<b1>
You are the sole producer of Jhansi Ki Rani?
Yes absolutely. My company Tantra is the producer. And there's no fear of falling from my high horse because Rani of Jhansi rode across the horizon fearlessly. If I'm making a film on the life of a fearless woman I'd better be fearless. This woman inspires me like none other.
The truth is whenever you create something, there's bound to be risks, financial and creative, involved. When have I ever been afraid of taking risk?
Any fear of failing with a female-centric film?
None whatsoever. Please remember I started with a woman-centric film (Dastak). Sure, my recent films Chingaari and Zindaggi Rocks revolved around me and they didn't work at the box office, whereas a film like Main Hoon Na where I had, at the most, an extended cameo, brought me tremendous appreciation.
But do I stop going by my instincts because of commercial failure? Or do I try to see where I've gone wrong, correct myself and move ahead on the path I've chosen? That doesn't really need an answer, does it?
Jhansi Ki Rani is not the kind of film that you shoot over two months, release and forget about it. It's a film about history that hopefully will have a history beyond the average lifespan of a film.
And about the director?
Frankly, I'm still not decided on that. We've a few names short-listed. They're all filmmakers with a track record for an epic vision.
So what steps are you taking to ensure that Jhansi Ki Rani doesn't go wrong?
I'm making sure we're doing our homework very carefully. Once we go into production I don't want to be caught in any kind of uncertainty. Neither do I want to be an interfering producer. I want to put everything in place as a producer so that once we start shooting I'll focus only on the acting.
How long have you been prepping for Jhansi...? <b3>
A year-and-a-half. It's my dream project. And life for me has always been about living out my dreams. I feel Rani of Jhansi isn't just a source of inspiration for me but also very relevant to our times. When I went through her story and read about her interaction with friends, family and enemies I realised sometimes you need to look at the past to know what mistakes you don't make in the future.
What would be the film's language?
It'd predominantly be in English. Since a majority of the characters would be British, English does seem the logical language. My Jhansi Ki Rani would be a totally global film. Anybody who wants to get inspired will want to see it.
Finally, Ketan Mehta is also a planning a biopic of Jhansi Ki Rani with Aishwarya Rai.
I'm very happy for both of them.