Some called her bold and others an artist but post Rang Rasiya, Nandana Sen will mostly come across as a confident, self sure woman who knows her projects inside out and understands the gist of her theme with a mind free from social taboos and norms. Koimoi caught up with the actress in an interview recently and she flaunting her earthen, sublime beauty impressed us more with her strong bent of mind. Here’s the exclusive chat we had with her about body image, women power and vulnerability and item numbers.

Rang Rasiya took a while to release. Are you ecstatic about it?
I am really excited that the world is ready to embrace a film like Rang Rasiya and I expect that they will be able to embrace the film fully. It is a very important film, beautifully made, stunningly shot film with moving characters and moving story.

Nandana Sen in a still from movie 'Rang Rasiya'
Nandana Sen in a still from movie ‘Rang Rasiya’

Ketan told us the film’s essence for him is battling Censorship. For Randeep, it is about artistic passion. What is the essence of the film for you?
The story for me is about both of those things but more so about how vulnerable women are in Indian society still. The film deals with the visionary that Ravi Varma was and the ways in which he revolutionized Indian society but for me the fact that he democratized Indian Gods, made it possible for so many Indians to worship, who were earlier forbidden to pray. They managed to own their own Gods and hence managed to break down a stiff caste barrier that for me is a very important part of the film. Equally important in the same spectrum is the way in which Sugandha’s character shows the need for us to understand how strong Indian women are and how vulnerable they can be in our society.

The film’s high sensuality quotient is devoiding it from sticking to its focal point. Do you think the audiences are being drawn for the wrong reasons?
Sensuality in this film is intricately connected to all three focal points of the film, be it the Censorship focus, the passion of an artist and women’s power or non-power space in Indian society. Raja Ravi Varma was the first to embrace sensuality in his works, something that has been existent in Indian society for thousands of years. He reconnected Indian populations to the way sensuality was depicted in our ancient texts, be it Kamasutra or Kalidasa’s texts. The Censorship story, which is the political core and emotional core of the film is how a woman gets ostracized because of the art. These two stories are interconnected and wouldn’t work without sensuality. In order to understand the fullness of her vulnerability and to understand why the court case became such a big deal, you need to see the story in its fullness without any apologies, without any polite omissions and that is why sensuality is essential.

But you do agree that Bollywood or Indian society, both feed from a very hypocritical thinking process?
Absolutely, there is no question about that. There exists hypocrisies in various ways and different areas of society. On one hand we show woman to be powerful and sensual in religious texts, but on other hand we use the same religion to oppress woman. And this is not only about Hinduism, but most other including Islam, Christanity, Judaism. Religion is used in a complete wrong manner. But when you go back to the texts, you will find no reason to justify how woman are oppressed. So there is huge double standard in the way religion is being used across the world. In show business there is great double standard as well. I believe strongly in Freedom of Expression. I am a huge supporter of item numbers and I find them extremely sexy and fun. I think they lift the film up in a certain way. However, the way in which the women are depicted in our films is not even with a fraction of objectification. So when I compare that to the way women bodies are objectified in item numbers, sometimes I do feel why there is such a big deal about our film. But I also don’t mean that there should be a big deal about our item numbers, don’t get me wrong. There is a perspective difference. There is a brouhaha about that and is seen as the part of the conviction. Even though there are lots of over sexualized gestures and almost nakedness is certain films, which is alright, but then why is there objection towards a situation where a woman’s body is portrayed with full dignity.

Rang Rasiya might find its takers only in the niche circles. It might affect the commercial success of the film. Is that bothering you?
No I don’t think so. I don’t think there are films which restrict to a particular audience. If you look at the films that are successful now, very often the ones that are most successful, are the ones which also have a very strong social consciousness, but not in a preachy way. Many of our filmmakers have managed to make that shift. Who would have thought a film on child trafficking like MARDAANI would reach out to such a huge audience. It didn’t only interest to intelligent audience or people like me who are involved into these social causes. When we have an appetite for real and unique stories, they have an audience.

You are also working on Bengali film based out One of Tagore’s short stories. How far is it gone and when will it release?
It is not complete yet. After having gone through RANG RASIYA, I would never actually say when will it release. It will release when the time is right.

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