Guwahati: Bidita Bag, a professional model-turned actor known for her power-packed performances as Phulva in Babumoshai Bandookbaaz, The Sholay Girl, which is a biopic of Reshma Pathan, and Chuniya in T for Taj Mahal, to name just a few, has been winning the hearts of many, besides becoming a recognisable face in the OTT world.
Born on September 30, 1991, Bag has walked the ramp during Lakme India Fashion Week and has worked with designers like Sabyasachi Mukherjee and Kiran Uttam Ghosh. However, her love and drive for acting pushed her to the path of an actor.
EastMojo had the opportunity to have a conversation with the actress who was in Guwahati as part of the 7th Brahmaputra Valley Film Festival 2019 recently.
Edited excerpts from an exclusive interview:
Can you take us through your journey from a professional model to an actor?
It was not an easy thing for me. Well, I can call it a gradual progression because I always wanted to be an actress. But the thing is, it was not that easy to get into the film industry. As you might know that if you want to work in films you either have to be from a theatre background or a modelling background or a ‘nepo’ background. You need to have a godfather who will launch you.
But for me, it was not a very easy thing because you must have also seen that models are not seen as a good actor. Everyone thinks that being a model he or she is not very dynamic. They have a stone face and they might not be able to emote and are all about glamour. So I had to break down all those pre-conceived notions.
Hence, during the start of my career I had to choose unglamorous roles so that I can make people understand that I may walk in ramps but I can also portray a village girl or give an unglamorous performance. I started portraying acting oriented characters and then people started to take me seriously. Prior to that I was directly rejected for being too glamorous or too tall.
Can you tell us one of the most challenging characters that you ever had to portray on the big screen?
I think I have been playing challenging characters back to back and I am lucky in that way for many actors are unable to get the roles they want. But I am lucky to have been able to play strong and challenging characters. Take for instance, Babumoshai Bandookbaaz, where I played a shoemaker’s character from Uttar Pradesh, and I had to catch up on the UP dialect.
In T For Taj Mahal, again based in UP, it was a different kind of character in a comedy setup. Then I played The Sholay Girl, biopic of Reshma Pathan where she is from an orthodox Muslim family from Mumbai and hence the dialect. Then in another film Daya Bai, where I portrayed a south Indian girl, a biopic of Mercy Matthew.
So, in this way, I am getting a variety of roles and hence getting to experience so much. Along with acting I am also learning different languages. My first Hindi film was As the river flows and the Assamese version Ekhon Nedakha Nadir Xipare where I played the role of an Assamese girl and I had to learn the language as well and I dubbed that character myself.
How many languages are you fluent in?
I am not very fluent in any language but I can manage the dialogues. Primarily, I speak Bengali, Hindi, English and I understand Assamese, Odia, Nepali and Marathi, to an extent, and that’s it.
Do you think OTT is the new future?
I think of OTT as just another platform. See, in OTT we find interesting stories with different themes and genres including many path-breaking stories which might not get the profit if released in the halls or television. Moreover, sorry to say, but television is becoming very regressive these days. For some stories you can’t make a film for it needs elaboration in the web series format as well. So, the work is going quite well in case of those type of subjects.
But there are still some OTT platforms where only sex sells and I am uncomfortable with it. But good projects are still underway and I think it is the future for it is now on everyone’s cellphones giving one the freedom over the choice of content. This is a very good thing for independent actors specially because I don’t think someone will invest a Rs 100 crore film with me as the lead. But with films like The Sholay Girl where I get Rs 2 to 3 crore with good content, which would not have been possible without OTT.
What is the most irritating part of being an actress?
See people mostly want to become an actress for the sole reason of glamour and money, so there is nothing irritating per se. But yes, there is one thing that irritates me and it’s that people now are not satisfied with just one selfie. They want a selfie and that too in the profile where they look good with eight to ten filters. And they are not satisfied with only a selfie, they want one with their back camera with everyone present there. If you take 100 people who need a minimum of five to six with both the cameras, it results to around 600 photos. And if you don’t pose for someone they become offended and then they would tag you on social media and start with their slurs and comments like “look how proud she has become” or “you are there because of us”.
Given a chance to live the life of a character that you portrayed on the silver screen, which would it be and why?
I think it would be the life of Reshma Pathan for there is a lot to explore in that character, her struggles in a male centred world and she herself became a man to fight is inspiring. The stunts she performed were amazing and I wish to perform those stunts in my life but I am already late for one needs to practise those stunts from a very young age. But they say it’s never too late you don’t know what you are capable of. So I think there is a great possibility if you condition yourself properly and if you start doing it I think we can achieve great things. So that’s it, I want to live a good life and achieve good things.