Ridheema & Poonam: We were strictly asked not to watch original version of BEGUM JAAN
In this part we introduce you to Ridheema Tiwari (she plays Amba) and Poonam Rajput (she plays Rani) from the film. Read on to know what they have to say about their experience working in this film, their character and why BEGUM JAAN is so special for them...
RIDHEEMA TIWARI AND POONAM RAJPUT
How did you bag this project?
Ridheema I come from a television background and was keen on doing films now so I approached Mukesh Chhabra’s casting agency and one fine day I was told that I am through and my happiness knew no bounds.
Poonam I too got a call for auditions from Mukesh Chhabra ji . But I had given audition for the character Rubina, the one which Gauahar is playing in the film. The director liked my audition but he thought that I would be better for the role of Rani as she is a Pahadi girl with Gadhwali accent and I myself hail from Himachal Pradesh.
Was your family apprehensive regarding the subject of this film?
Ridheema No, they have always been very supportive of what I take up. The subject of BEGUM JAAN is written in the history of mankind.
Poonam: I told them that I bagged this film only after I started shooting for it. For my family Vidya Balan, Mahesh Bhatt and Amitabh Bachchan are all same since people in Himachal are very detached from Bollywood. When I told my mom that I am working with Vidya Balan she said , “Acha woh na jo sauchalay ki ad karti hai (laughs).
What was your reaction when you came to know that you will be working with Vidya Balan?
Ridheema I was on cloud nine. She is a terrific actor, has no hang ups and makes you feel so comfortable in your skin. Imagine it’s our debut film and we have Vidya alongside the excitement level just can’t be handled. When we started our workshop, she was really very humble and cordial with all of us.
Poonam Rajput: I was extremely happy, anyone would be. I am proud that I got a chance to work with an actor like her.
So tell us how is Vidya Balan as a co-star?
Ridheema She is so very easy going, knowing we are newbies she would always make us feel at home, she is not the one who will follow the league blindly in fact she is the one who actually sets her own style statement. She is so perfect in her take that’s it’s a delight to watch her act.
Poonam: I have worked previously in many Punjabi films, where stars have huge attitude but in my first Bollywood film when I worked with Vidya ma’am she absolutely has no starry airs. She is very friendly and down to earth so I never felt I was working with ‘The Vidya Balan’. We had instantly formed a connection from day one. She is very jolly, bubbly and loves to crack joke.
Tell us about your character in the film
Ridheema : I play one of the key roles, one of the girls who stays in Brothel along with Begum Jaan.
Poonam: My character Rani is very emotional and delicate. Since she is a pahadi girl she is beautiful, she doesn’t speak much, she never interferes in other people’s business. In the house She is trying to behave and live like a whore, because she is young she hasn’t been involved in the flesh -trade yet. Rani likes to observe other women decking up and so she loves dressing up too, she is trying to act like other women in the house.
How did you prepared for your role?
Ridheema : We had workshops and Srijit Sir was the one who actually trained us well, we opened up with each other like never before.
Poonam: We were informed earlier itself that there would be workshop as the film is set in 1947, so naturally we needed to work on lot of things like our body language, our accents. So everything was taught to us by our director. Special instructions were given to refrain from watching the original film.
Is director Srijit a task master?
Ridheema : Not really, he is extremely sorted out director.
Poonam: Srijit sir has told us that he has a split personality, personally he is friendly but on sets he is strict. But I never found him to be strict as he never scolded me or anyone else for anything. Imagine being amidst of 11 girls and one male director so even if he wanted to scold us he would be unable to do that (laughs) He was like Kishan kanhaiya amongst the Gopis . He was a very dotting person yeah but sometimes when the shoot would get stalled for some reason or other then everyone would face the heat of it.
With so many women together, catfights must have been quite often?
Ridheema : No, not at all we had a matured understanding with each other.
Poonam: Actually at first when we didn’t know each other then I had a feeling that there would be lot of catfights but thanks to the workshop, the entire unit had become like one huge family. We used to do everything together. A strong bond was formed between us. Sometimes I even had feeling of never returning back to my real life and stay there with my team forever. In fact all of us stayed in same hotel so there was no chance of any catfights between us as everyone was treated equally. Also when the captain of your ship is someone like Srijit sir then there was no possibility of any catfights whatsoever.
Tell us why people should watch BEGUM JAAN?
Poonam: People should watch BEGUM JAAN because I think that everyone of us has a Begum Jaan in them. It’s a story of a fight for your own house/rights. There’s a dialogue in the film“Ang luta sakte hai, aangan nahin”. It’s a fight for your dignity (so what if they are whores!), your rights and how one should never bog down in front of pressure.
What’s next in pipeline?
Ridheema : I am currently doing a TV show; there is nothing on the film front that I have signed yet.
Poonam: I have done few ads recently. I have also received few Punjabi film’s scripts but I haven’t signed anything as yet because I want to do meaningful films that would inspire others.