Vidya Balan starring film Begum Jaan directed by the National Film Award-winning director Srijit Mukherji and produced by Mukesh Bhatt, Vishesh Bhatt and Play Entertainment has been released on 14 April i.e. yesterday. Set against the backdrop of country’s partition with Pakistan in 1947, the story revolves around a brothel on the border that is under the threat of demolition. Vidya plays the lead role of brothel madam, who along with her girls is unwilling to give up on their house. This excruciating tussle to save their house is what the movie is all about.
It is a Hindi remake of Bengali film Rajkahini. The movie also casts, luminary actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Chunky Pandey, Ashish Vidyarthi and Ila Arun, along with Pallavi Sharda, Gauahar Khan, Rajit Kapoor and Vivek Mushran to name a few.
Since Vidya is known for taking up character-driven roles rather than running into big banner films that promise to collect well at the box office, Begum Jaan is just one more in the list. She in fact, to her role in the film, has to say that, “Begum Jaan is very different person from anyone I’ve known or played in my life.
What really drew me to Begum Jaan is that women often take time to come to terms with the kind of power they have, no matter how successful they are, but Begum Jaan knows her strengths well. Begum Jaan is unapologetically and unabashedly powerful. I found that fascinating about her. Even when you see a powerful woman, you will still see a softer side to her, but not her. She is unflinchingly powerful. That’s what drew me to her.”
As the trailer hits the audience, we were sure that CBFC had to be involved. Despite its A Certificate, there are a total of 12 cuts in the movie, without which the movie was a complete NO NO! Srijit argued that the role and the character demanded Vidya to use such coarse language, but the so called Sanskari scissors did their work, giving him a deaf ear.
Apart from the abusive language, scenes of communal violence in the bus along with a lovemaking scene in the movie are cut to half. A source said, “The CBFC found the pounding and thrusting which Srijit accentuated to show how sex is used to subjugate women, to be excessive even for an adult audience.” Though an adult viewership can decide for itself whether the sexual and political violence is excessive or not, CBFC left no scope. Other than this, Central Board of Film Certification also asked the makers of Begum Jaan to replace a few lines and words in the movie, because they seemed to offend the religious sentiments of the democratic India.
Apart from the Censor Board wrangle that the film faced, there was a consequential one left out. While travelling from an award function with the team of Begum Jaan, Vidya Balan was mishandled by a fan at the Kolkata Airport. As convivial as she is, she greeted her fans with a smile but little did she know that a barefaced man would, after repeated warnings put his hand across her in an attempt to take a selfie. She later spoke to media about the same stating, “When a stranger puts an arm around you, be it a man or a woman you get uncomfortable because they are intruding into your personal space. We are public figures, not public property.”
Other than the controversies that encircled Begum Jaan, the film managed to bag some good epithet too. The film was shot in Punjab, Delhi and Jharkhand. A substantial shooting took place in the latter in an attempt to draw positive buzz towards the state, in the order, Jharkhand also enrolled itself under the ‘most film-friendly state’ in the National Film Award scheduled in May this year.
Another plus point to Begum Jaan was the subsidy of 2 crores that was offered from the Jharkhand Film Technical Advisory Committee (JFTAC) along with its Chief Minister Raghubar Das declaring the film to be tax-free in the state.
“My onscreen character raises a very important question ¬– why are a woman’s action controlled by her father, brother, husband or son? So she decides not to allow anyone to take away her space, be it in terms of property or her physical self. The script and the story are really very different and attractive” – as quoted by Vidya Balan. Though being called a bad-ass for her role in the movie, Vidya is leaving no stepping stone left unturned.
And yes we thoroughly enjoyed the movie, have you booked your tickets to Begum Jaan?