Popular cine star Vidya Balan launched the promotion of her upcoming film, Begam Jaan, in the Jharkhand capital Ranchi taking a ride in an auto driven by a female driver from Birsa Munda Airport to her hotel.
Accompanied by director Srijit Mukherjee, producer Mukesh Bhatt and other costars, Balan arrived in Ranchi in the afternoon and dodged the crowd at the arrival gate by boarding an SUV.
However, a little away from the airport, she got down from the SUV and boarded a pink auto with the owner, Silwanti Bhagat, in the driver’s seat. Around 20 pink autos, all run by women, had come to the airport to receive the cine star.
It was a moment filled with nostalgia and suffused with emotions for the women auto drivers as they got the invite from the makers of the film to participate in the film’s promotion parade. The excitement was palpable among them since morning as they cleaned their vehicles came neatly dressed ignoring their daily passengers.
“Yesterday (Friday) we got a call from a person speaking on behalf of Mahesh Bhatt, the popular director, inviting us to attend the promotion rally. We couldn’t say know as it was a lifetime opportunity to give a ride to film stars from Mumbai,” said Renu Devi, president, Ranchi Pink Auto Association.
She recalled how last year, Mahesh Bhatt rode a pink auto while in Ranchi and announced that he would make a film on them.
The Pink Auto Association of Ranchi was formed on February 4, 2014, with a cluster of women hitting the road with their pink colour autos to storm the male bastion. These women auto drivers became popular among passengers in a very short span of time. For Mahesh Bhatt, it was a unique experience riding the pink auto.
In order to promote their freedom on wheels, he decided to associate them with Begam Jaan’s promotion tour. He kept his promise on Saturday.
“She (Balan) is very sweet both in her looks and words,” said Silwanti, cherishing the rare moment. “I couldn’t believe my eyes when she ran and got into my auto. It took time for me begin the conversation and she treated me very well through the three-kilometre-long drive,” she added.
Begam Jaan was extensively shot at Nandini village in Dumka where a huge set was created for the film’s shooting. Balan and the entire crew spent a few weeks in the far northern district and were impressed by the scenic beauty of the place. While returning after the shooting got over, she sang paeans to Jharkhand’s huge potential in filmmaking and had promised to return soon during the film’s release.
The film is slated for release on April 14. Balan plays the lead role of a brothel’s madam set in the backdrop of late Indian independence period of 1948.