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Suman no more a sex kitten

Suman Ranganathan is returning with the hard-hitting film, Devaki.

india Updated: Jan 04, 2006 19:07 IST

For Suman Ranganathan, it was a strong aspiration to play a real life character. Having been dismissed as a sex kitten, Suman returns to the screen with Bappaditya Bandopadhyay’s Devaki, based on a true story of a girl who was sold off for Rs 5000.

Initial reluctance: I was very reluctant to do the film. In fact, I did not even go for the audition. I thought, people would not accept me in such roles since I carry this sex symbol tag. Then, I got a call from the Devaki team and I was asked to meet them at the Mumbai airport with some photographs. I didn’t know what to do as most of my photographs were glam shots. But, Bappa is the key person. In fact, it was he who insisted that I did the film.

Justice to the role: I wasn’t confident if I could do justice to the role, as I had never played such a character before. I hardly have any dialogue. The accent is on body language. I had to learn how to walk like Devaki since that was the most difficult part. And I rigorously practised. There is a person in flesh and blood, and I had to portray this reality through my expressions.

Suman Ranganathan returns to the screens with hard-hitting film, Devaki. The film is based on a true story of a girl who was sold off for Rs 5000.

Challenging role: These are the kinds of roles that you love to do. It has a strong message. I really hope that the film makes an impact. In villages poor girls being sold off is a common phenomenon. And, there is a curse called child marriage, which is also rampant. While shooting in Birbhum I found an 11-year-old girl being married off to a 16-year-old. I was dumbstruck.

Interaction with the real Devaki: I met her at a press meet for the promotion of the film. I found her to be very shy. It is natural since she has suffered a lot. But, she is still lucky. There are so many girls who have been sold off and are still untraceable.

Working with Bappa and Perizaad: Both are good human beings to start with. Bappa truly understands his craft and is extremely passionate about it. Perizaad and I don’t have too many scenes together but I got to know here during the film’s promotional tours.

Happy with the result: It is a delight to know that Devaki has been appreciated in international festivals. As I have said before, I was a bit apprehensive about the film’s prospects. I have been typecast. But everybody gets bored of doing the same old thing. This was remarkably different.

Game for more such roles: Bengal and south India have a penchant for making strong women-centric films. I am game for doing more such roles even if they are in regional languages like Bengali.

Director’s note
I found Devaki Bai extremely spirited. She really liked the film but she maintained that it could have been cruder showing what exactly she had to pass through. She is from the Bhil tribe in Madhya Pradesh who was forced to marry an old man. But she eloped and fell in love with a Gulab Singh, a deputy forest ranger and later married him. However, she was caught after ten years and later auctioned in Pandhana, a sub-division of Khandwa district in Madhya Pradesh, on January 4, 2003 along with six other women, some of who are still untraceable. In fact, before the auction, she was made to stand with a stone for 72 hours while being sexually harassed. But her husband did not give up hopes and fought till the end to get his wife back. He contacted the DM and the story was later published in a national magazine. Such is Devaki’s spirit that she has not patched up with the persons responsible behind her pathetic state. They tried to patch up, but she has refused. Devaki is staying happily with her husband and son Vishal. The case is still sub-judice.

First Published: Jan 04, 2006 19:05 IST