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Setting social sensibilities

Yet another TV show deals with untouchables, we get a glimpse of what life is like on the sets of Bitto - thestory of a girl from lower caste who fights discrimination.

tv Updated: May 21, 2010 13:02 IST
Manali Shah
Manali Shah
Hindustan Times

An emotional scene is being shot when we reach the sets of Sahara One’s new show, Bitto. The shoot is taking place in a bungalow set-up —the Thakur family home. The enormous living room is complete with rifles on the walls, lamps, portraits, wall clocks and paintings.

In the same bungalow, in an inner room, Bitto’s home is recreated. The look is a complete contrast as Bitto’s family is shown to be very poor. The walls are mostly bare and there is hardly any furniture.

There is absolute silence in the room where the scene is shot. The mother is lying on a bed; Bitto and her older sister Rajjo enter the frame with some food. A few emotionally charged dialogues later, the director’s voice booms through a microphone. “Cut”, he yells.

The actors quickly put glycerin in their eyes and get ready to weep. The scene is enacted again and this time the director approves. “Wah! Toward the end of the scene, even my eyes welled up,” he jokes.

On the sets, the actors are all addressed by their character names. So, we hear lines like, “Ma, aap thoda left side par dekho yeh dialogue ke baad (Ma, please look to your left after this dialogue” and “Bitto, aap ka shot tayar hai (Bitto, your shot is ready)” doing rounds.

After a short break, they do the same scene again, this time for close-ups’ sake since they do not have multiple cameras to capture all the angles in one go. Black curtains, thermocol sheets and white screens are arranged and held up by the crew to get the
lighting right.

Between cuts, the make-up artist, who is always on the standby, comes forth and fixes someone or the others’ hair and make-up, while the cast peers into hand mirrors.

Under harsh lights, the actors wait patiently till the cameraman gets the focus right. Two people on a trolley camera go back and forth and finally, the shot is canned. But the same scene has to be enacted yet again, and this time the camera is in the opposite direction to capture close-ups in a different angle. We learn that this is the standard procedure and at times, actors may well have to enact a particular scene five or six times.

Meanwhile, the cast playing the Thakur family is ready in their grand costumes and sits chatting casually. We learn that the shoot for Bitto started nearly one and a half month ago. The shoot took place in Wai, near Nashik for the outdoor scenes and they have only just begun to shoot in Mumbai for the indoor scenes.

‘I know what it’s like to starve’
The show’s leading lady, Pallavi Gupta has learnt what it’s like to be discriminated against now

What is the premise of the show?
Bitto is set in a rural place in Uttar Pradesh. It is a story of how I, Bitto, a poor lower caste village girl stands up against society to fight discrimination and eventually wins. It traces her observations and experiences in the village.

Can you relate to your character?
I love my role and I can completely relate to my character. I know how it feels to starve and go to bed hungry now. We have mostly shot outdoors in Wai, near Nashik and it was a unique experience. Outdoor shoots have their own charm.

There are many shows on similar themes these days. How is Bitto any different?
Bitto is not just a story of caste discrimination. Here, every character has a story to tell. It is not just about the exploitation of people from a lower cast. Bitto does not get married in the Thakur’s family or anything of that sort. It is a unique show, and the characters are very different from what you see in other shows.

Do you think Bitto will help change mindsets of people who discriminate on the basis of caste?
Definitely. When people in villages see our show, they will realise that such practices are wrong. They will be able to relate to it.

What are your expectations from the show’s performance?
I am emotionally close to this show and I have full confidence that it will be a hit. Everyone on the show has worked really hard. The characters are quite interesting too. I have a feeling that it will work

How has your experience with your co-actors been like?
All my co-actors are nice. I am quite close to Vandana Lalwani (Rajjo). I am glad that I am getting a chance to work with senior actors like Waqar Shaikh (Thakur), and Maya Yadav (mother).

First Published: May 21, 2010 12:20 IST