Original Begum Jaan Rituparna Sengupta upset that Vidya Balan was director Srijit Mukherji's first choice for Rajkahini
Rituparna Sengupta, the star behind the Bengali version of Begum Jaan starring Vidya Balan is not only shocked that her Rajkahini director, Srijit Mukherji always wanted Vidya Balan to play the lead role in both the versions of his film, but she is also confused about why he mentioned it. Apparently, Srijit hadn’t discussed that he had initially thought to make Begum Jaan, a bilingual, with Vidya Balan in the lead.
In fact, the director specifically approached Rituparna to play the role. Even when she was doubtful about pulling it off, he trusted her to make the role work for the film. In an interview to DNA she said, “I am not aware that he had wanted Vidya in Rajkahini, too. Or why he’s saying that today. We were in talks about doing a film together for the longest time. Srijit had told me that he would come to me only when he had a role which matters. I was in Delhi attending an event. When I checked my phone, I saw it had 10 missed calls! He called again and said, ‘I have got something very exciting for you. I asked him to wait for me till I returned and the moment I reached Kolkata he was at my home, ready with the script and concept.”
So Srijit had also told her that ‘she would have to take out all the feminism in herself’. She said, “Srijit was very confident that I could pull it off. I asked him if he really thought I could do it. Srijit said that I had to take out all the feminism in me. It was a role that required a lot of mental and physical prepping. I was very fascinated by what he offered me and though it was a big challenge for me, Srijit tutored me very well. Begum Jaan was such a very different zone for me. After the filming was complete, I got immersed in voice modulation. I had to shout my lungs out into the microphone and then dub for it to get that hoarseness in my voice. I would get exhausted and lie flat on the ground for some time and Srijit would say, “Take a break and come back”. That’s the regime I went through, so when I missed out on the National Award, I was really upset and disappointed. This role was one-of-a-kind and for regional films like Rajkahini, the National Awards is the only place you can compete with Hindi films. But I am a strong-willed person and I am sure there will be another time…”
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The actor confesses that she was hurt initially, and took to the social media to talk about this. She explains that Begum Jaan was one of the toughest characters that she has played so far and pointed out that no one could trivialise the hard work that went into making this film. She said, “I am quite empowered that way. I can own things in my own way. I own my character Begum Jaan in me. Nobody will forget Rajkahini’s Begum Jaan. Who was the first and second choice doesn’t matter! I have a deep regard for my director and am aware of what the film has done for me, so there are no complaints. But there is a lingering feeling of disappointment… Had I got the National Award for it, I would have been happy. The amount of pressure, hard work, love and passion I put in the film, the battle I fought to get into my toughest character till now, was not trivial.”
She was also insisted that her performance and interpretation cannot be compared to that of Vidya Balan. “I am sure she has also interpreted Begum Jaan in her own way and will make it her own character but you can’t compare the two,” she said.