Reel meets real is a phrase often associated with Bollywood. Films such as Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, No One Killed Jessica or Mary Kom, inspired by real-life incidents, have not only managed to impress the critics but also set the cash registers ringing. However in the Bengali film industry, one generally doesn't get to see too many films based on real life.
This will soon change with debutant director Raja Banerjee deciding to make a film on controversial athlete Pinki Pramanik's life. Actor Kamalika Chanda (called Rinki in the film) will be essaying the role of the controversial athlete in a biopic called She, which hits the theatres on June 5.
Pramanik, an Asian Games gold medallist, was accused of rape by her live-in partner, who accused her of being a man.
The former athlete, who won silver in 4X400 m relay at the Commonwealth Games in 2006 and gold in 800m and 4X400m relay in Colombo, was arrested and had to undergo a gender determination test. Later, the Calcutta High Court dropped all charges against Pramanik.
In all these sporting events, Pinki had represented the country as a woman."The idea came to me when Pinki was arrested in 2012. Along with Plaban Basu (who wrote the screenplay and dialogues), we came up with the story. It's a story of a popular athlete who gets into a controversy and how the sprinter tries to come out of it," says Banerjee, who has earlier assisted veteran director Basu Chatterjee on the Byomkesh Bakshi television series and Abbas-Mustan on Baadshah (1999).
Even after repeated attempts, HT could not contact Pinki. The director, however, informs that he has already held a special screening of the film, She, for Pinki. "Pinki was in tears while watching the film. She has liked the film. But she also told me that she would have been happier had I contacted her before making the film. She didn't like the way I incorporated a lesbian relationship into the story," says Banerjee.Kamalika, who has acted in several Tamil and Bengali films, is excited about playing the former athlete. "Raja da had approached me to play the character of a supermodel in the film, who later accuses Rinki of rape. But I found Rink's character to be more challenging. I wanted to prove myself as an actor who can carry off both glamourous and non-glamorous roles. Also as a woman, I felt proud to portray the character," says Kamalika, who earlier acted in Bappaditya Bandopadhyay's Elar Char Adhyay.
Since Kamalika's character in the film is modelled on an Asian Games gold medallist athlete, the actor trained herself to look the part. "I went to the gym and exercised to get into the skin of the character. Personally, I wanted to meet Pinki before the film went on floors. But due to certain circumstances, it wasn't possible. So, I saw Pinki's videos and read her interviews. I modulated my voice too to sound like her," says Kamalika, who wants to meet Pinki someday.
The film also stars actors such as Rajesh Sharma, Shantilal Mukherjee, Tamal Roy Chowdhury and Ayeashaya Chatterjee.
The director says apart from West Bengal, he is also trying to release the film in Mumbai.