Bandit Queen on the tube

After being on air for more than half a year, daily soap Phulwa, inspired by the life of dacoit-turned-politician Phoolan Devi, has finally found an actor perfect for the part of the Bandit Queen. The Colors daily has leaped forward by a couple of years this week. Child star Jannat Zubair, who played the kiddie Phulwa (inspired version of the late Phoolan), has made way for actor Sargun Mehta, who will now be seen as a full-fledged dacoit with guns and bullets on the prime time show.

The actor, unlike the kid star, didn’t get to visit Chambal Valley, (Phoolan’s old hunting ground) and shoot her introductory sequence there due to technical reasons.

“It doesn’t matter now. I’m happy to have started on this show. There’s a lot of pressure because I’m stepping into Jannat’s shoes. She established Phulwa as a character,” says Sargun, last seen as the lead in Geeta Ka Dharmyudha on Zee TV. “I hope I can deliver because the show’s momentum changes with actors essaying key characters. Besides, there were too many actors auditioned before I was finalised to play the dacoit. So, I better live up to it.”

In order to play Phulwa convincingly, Sargun not only studied the body language of other popular Indian lady dacoits, but also underwent strenuous physical training. For her entry shot, she was covered with muck from head to toe for over 12 hours.
“My training isn’t over yet. I still have my rifle shooting classes. I learnt horse-riding, have practiced running around on boulders, jumping in a river with stones on the riverbed and wading through mud,” smiles Sargun, adding that ever since she reported on the sets at Film City, Goregaon, there hasn’t been a day when she didn’t have stunts to perform.

The actor was tempted to watch Seema Biswas’s performance in the film Bandit Queen by Shekhar Kapoor.

However, she eventually dropped the idea because she wanted to play the part her way: “I’m human. Had I watched Seemaji’s emulation of a similar character, I’m sure I would have failed to give my personal touch to Phulwa. Watching Bandit Queen was the first thought that came to my mind. But it was best not to.”

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