The private release of a film doesn't make me insecure or vulnerable...- Chitrangada Satarupa
– By Farhad Dalal
Year 2022 has been a breakthrough year for Chitrangada Satarupa. But before the year ends, she is back with another release of her film Devi Aur Hero. In an Exclusive Interview With Farhad Dalal from Popcorn Reviewss, she talks about her film Devi Aur Hero, her character Kaali and why the makers had to opt for a private release.
Your new film Devi Aur Hero has released recently. Tell us something about your character Kaali.
There are some characters that you just feel like hugging them and be their guide without sounding entitled. I felt exactly that for Kaali. She’s really innocent in spite of having such a harsh past and going through extreme situations. And I would say pure, like a flower that comes out eventually, she’s literally like a ‘Kali’, like a small bud.
But the fact that she had the will to live irrespective of all the harsh situations she has gone through, made me feel like it’s a hopeful character. It’s a very patient and brave character with ample of innocence throughout
What was your brief for the character of Kaali and how did you prepare for it? Also were you skeptical about the intimacy of the character?
The brief for the character of Kaali was that this girl had many layers. There are other characters living in her head which she is not even aware of. But those are proper characters with absolutely opposite traits than what she usually has which she is unaware of. She is a nervous character yet has the will to escape any sort of situation where she’s like a slave. That needed to be seen in her body language. And there is obviously a transition on how she does make eye contact while talking, which she is unable to in the beginning of the film, because she is so nervous.
I did some research and also I wrote her back story while discussing with the director Aditya. We did some workshops. One of the exercises was like writing letters to yourself as those characters. So, I sort of figured out the way of what should be Kaali’s perspective towards the world, but also, at the same time, the characters which are living inside her, what should be their perspectives, etc. And to decide on a certain tonality in the voice, we worked on a few aspects related to body language and zeroed in one a few approaches.
And apart from these, I learned Kalaripayattu and Gatka, two different Indian martial arts. I took training for two months, though the film has little glimpses of it. It’s not a film about these martial arts, but I believe that to be able to speak two lines of an extremely foreign language, you need to know the language, and the basic grammar in order to communicate with conviction and honesty.
And regarding the intimacy in the beginning, when I was told that there is some sort of a little bit of nudity in it, I was a little uncomfortable.
But sometimes, if the script demands it and even if the situation is uncomfortable, I like to push myself and take up challenges. Here, I was convinced that intimacy was integral to the script and so I decided to go ahead with it.
How difficult was it to privately release Devi Aur Hero considering that it did not have any takers? What was the mood in the camp like?
Well, to be honest, after Tikli and Laxmi Bomb and Tottaa Pataaka Item Maal, both being released on Netflix, we were somehow very hopeful. And both the films did pretty well on Netflix, especially Tikli and Laxmi Bomb.
But somehow it didn’t work out. The content on OTTs have really changed over the years. We see less of independent films, independent work. I’m not saying that we are not seeing great work on these OTT platforms, but also we are seeing less of independent content, which is pretty sad to say the least.
I am unsure of the reason because it can’t just be like it’s not working out because of the lack of an audience. Maybe the honchos behind these OTT platforms were taking the decision but either way it was very hard for us.
For the last two years, I was only getting news of this film going to some festival. It went to Croatia, to Singapore and it won the NetPac Award in the Kolkata International Film Festival in 2019. So we were hopeful, but there was no news of release. So, lastly, when Aditya told me that they’re going to release it on his website, I was like, that’s a very bold move. But I’m sure they must have thought a lot and taken this decision because it’s also a lot of money. And releasing it for free, it means how much you want the world to see your labor of love. We waited for a long time but you cannot just keep waiting for the right time to come, because the subject has to stay relevant as well. So I think it’s was pretty brave call from the producer’s part to just release it privately and that too for free.
Does a private release of a film make the actor in you insecure and vulnerable? Take us through your mindset about the same.
The private release of a film doesn’t make me insecure or vulnerable, to be honest. It’s not in the actors hands. In fact, I feel that I’m just glad that the film is out because this is the most difficult character and project I have worked on till now.
There’s a lot of range in the character Kaali that I’ve played. I think I have somewhat done justice to it and I want people to see it. So I am glad that it’s out and I don’t see any excuse from the people’s part that, oh, I don’t have a subscription, and where is your work? How can we see your work? And this is what I am capable of doing. I am very happy to be a part of this project wherein I did get to play such a nuanced and complex character. I’m just glad it happened and I am very grateful.
If you had to appeal to the audience on why they should go and check Devi Aur Hero then what would you tell them.
Well, firstly, I would tell the audience who are awaiting my new release that my new film Devi Aur Hero is finally out and it’s available for free. Now you can also download it and watch it offline.
Secondly, this is an interesting film comprising of a very unconventional topic, not something that you get to see all the time on every platform. Whether you will find it entertaining or not, that is also very subjective. But the fact that this film is going to offer you a completely different ride and one can give it a try if you want to experience something different. And now, if you want me to add the important part of it, well, the film also covers some important aspects of human psychology, certain areas of human psychology, which is still a taboo people don’t like to address.
Just sometimes you can watch independent stuff and independent films and support independent content, rather than complaining why people are not exploring new ideas, why people are remaking, why people are, not casting good actors. It’s not a big budget, larger than life, big stars oriented film, but you can give it a watch.
It might be too soon to speak but do tell us about your other film Mariam and how different your character is from the one in Devi Aur Hero.
Oh, yeah. Mariam is absolutely different from this one. It’s way more subdued and also it’s a way older character. She’s a mother of three and her hardships are different. She is not nervous or under confident despite her mental health at stake. Also the mood and the tone of the film is very, very different and it’s very less verbose.
Mariam is an offbeat film which doesn’t have much dialogues. The whole film is mostly action based with moods and expressions. It’s absolutely different from Devi Aur Hero. My preparation related to my body language was different as I play a pregnant character.
I feel so fortunate that though these projects are very niche, they are known to a very selective audience and I have got the opportunity of essaying different characters in my journey as an actor.
Year 2022 has put you in the mainstream with the massive success of the series Guilty Minds. What does the year 2023 have in store for you and your fans?
Yes, 2022 has been pretty nice. Guilty minds released. Mariam went to Busan International Film Festival, and Devi Aur Hero is now out for the audience. Well, 2023, I really have no idea what’s in store for me. That’s what an actor’s journey is, full of surprises. Like all my characters, both Mariam and Kaali, I am hopeful that 2023 will be even nicer, brighter, and full of beautiful opportunities.
I am a kind of person that if opportunities don’t come my way, I’ll create them. A year back, I released my own song. I directed the music video. It’s called “Not A Dream” which is on YouTube. I feel it’s time for me to create something again. So maybe 2023 will see that although I don’t know what it is. But also, there is some news of some of my work coming out, which I cannot disclose at the moment. So fingers crossed, I hope I’m able to announce those things very soon. I am looking forward to a better year, more challenging in a good way as an artist.