Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Maa Kaali won’t face backlash as it talks about Bengalis: Raima Sen


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Indian actress Raima Sen‘s upcoming film, Maa Kaali, has created a chatter point with its striking poster which has a reference to the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act or CAA. In the backdrop of the poster release, IBNS-TWF correspondent Souvik Ghosh catches up with Raima on the film, where she plays a woman affected by the 1946 Calcutta Killings… Excerpts… 
Q. Maa Kaali deals with an issue which is rarely talked about. What was your initial reaction when you were offered the script?
A. The initial thought was whether the film was going to be controversial or not because I live in Bengal where I may have had to face repercussions. But I was inspired by the makers to become the face of Bengal where such an incident has happened. The makers urged me to educate people with what had happened in the past. They wanted a face of Bengal to make her the backbone of the film. So I felt lucky to be a part of a film which will go down in history.
Q. Since you have a film background, did you consult your family members before opting for the role?
A. In fact, my mother was there whenever the director and producer flew down to Calcutta (Kolkata) for meetings. My father was also present. Of course I have consulted them because of the subject of the film. My father always motivated me to do it and look at it from an actor’s perspective. Upon seeing the poster of the film, my parents were satisfied. To be honest, this is a very relevant film for the contemporary world. A lot of people don’t know about the Direct Action Day, Noakhali movement. To be very specific, people of this generation do not know about the incident by and large. It’s always good to do a film which is relevant, historical and impactful.
Q. Going by your recent choice of films, many would claim you are rooting for propaganda projects. Did that cross your mind?
A. I know. When I did The Vaccine War, people called it a propaganda film but in reality, it was of course not. It was about vaccines. I am yet to get feedback for Bastar (Bastar: The Naxal Story, Raima’s latest film), which has just been released. I have received a lot of hate emails accusing me of doing propaganda films despite being Suchita Sen’s granddaughter. But I have also received praises for the film The Vaccine War. People should watch a film first and then judge.
Q. To be very specific, your role was a negative one.
A. Yes, absolutely. But people judged it even before watching. I am okay with constructive criticism provided the audience has watched it. But so much hate comments even before a release doesn’t make sense to me. Moreover, I am not affiliated to any political party so whatever film I am doing, it’s purely because I am an actress.
Q. Since the poster came out at a time when the CAA implementation happened and that too ahead of the elections, do you apprehend any backlash?
A. Initially, I was skeptical, particularly after seeing the poster. But now after meeting some of the people at the top, I don’t think there will be any backlash. I don’t think Maa Kaali will be banned like The Kerala Story. My film is just supporting the Bengalis and talks about Bengali families which went missing.
Q. Tell us about the poster, which seems different.
A. It’s very different. I was like ‘wow’. I have probably never got such a lovely film poster before. I felt like this was the ideal poster for me.
Q. Did your perspective towards CAA change in the course of the making?
A. No. Actually CAA has been incorporated at the end. In the film, my character at the age of 80 is explaining how CAA is important and it will help to mete out justice.
Q. How was it working for Bastar: The Naxal Story?
A. I am yet to watch the film! I didn’t get to watch it yet. I will probably go to theatres soon to watch it.
Q. On a different note, you were seen doing yoga in a recent Instagram post. Is yoga a new thing in life?
A. It is a new thing in my life. I have been a gym person all my life but I have chosen yoga post lockdown. I think yoga is great for mental health, internal and external health. For me, it’s only yoga for now.
(Photo courtesy: Instagram/Raima Sen) 
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