Joined: 29 August 2010
In Bedi's pleasure house
"I used to feel proud of my height. Now I am falling short." Mohit Raina shakes his head as he leaves the shooting floor. The lead actor of Sahara One's serial Ganga kii Dheej, which airs Monday to Thursday at 10pm, had just stood face to face with Kabir Bedi, and found himself falling short. Bedi, who is making a comeback on Indian television, is playing Raina's father, a despotic zamindar.
Raina's realisation is as much about his physical stature as his acting skills. "I am scared of making a mistake in front of him," he says. No wonder when the cameras roll, he requires the least number of retakes.
Leena Jumani is still to share a frame with the man who would soon be after her in the story. She is happy to run around as Pakhi, a village belle. "In every episode you will see Pakhi run at least once," says a production hand, "She runs through forests, mountains, village roads'." All the action should be natural to a character whose introductory shot was a dive into a waterfall, shot in Karnataka.
Asked about the waterfall, Leena shudders. "We went during the monsoon when the flow was the heaviest. In one shot I was to speak my lines standing waist-deep in water. The current was so strong that I was tied by a rope so I wouldn't be swept away. Yet, on every second line, I would break off with a jump ' there were fish nibbling at my feet!" giggles the 20-year-old Leena, who traded in online shares in Ahmedabad before hitting Mumbai.
Now she belongs to a village where every marriageable girl has to pass the purity test by a tantrik ' a woman who walks like a man. "I picked up the gait from a documentary on sadhus at Kumbh Mela. They walk as if there is a force driving them. I am also speaking in a deep voice to match up to Kabir Bedi's baritone," explains the veteran actress Ashwini Kalsekar, playing the role of Mahamai.
But it is not easy. After chatting with a friend over phone during a break, she returns to speak her lines in a normal voice, and the director yells: "Mahamai ki awaaz ko kya hua?" "Oops," she gulps.
Neither is it easy to justify what her screen persona does ' failing the good-looking ones so that their marriage is called off and they get delivered to narak ka dwar, from where no girl ever returns. The narak actually is the zamindar's pleasure house. "The zamindar is blackmailing me. I am being forced into this," Kalsekar argues, adding that in real life she is a feminist.
The village, of all places, is said to be in Bengal! How Bengali is the serial? "I have seen Devdas a few times," chirps Leena, flaunting the extent of her research.
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