It is seldom that an international film focuses on Bangladeshi expats in Britain. It is even rarer that an Indian actress is looking forward to such a film to push her into the big league of international cinema.
Indian actress Tannishtha Chatterjee is excited about her role in the screen adaptation of Bangladesh-born British author Monica Ali’s best-selling novel Brick Lane directed by Sarah Gavron.
Of course, international spotlight for Tannishtha, the 28-year-old student of Delhi’s National School of Drama, is nothing new.
The world became a stage for her when she got the break in the German film Shadows of Time directed by Florian Gallenberger and this was followed by movies like Strings, Divorce and Bibar for which she earned the best actress award in OSIAN film festival last year.
She was also a part of Indo-French co-production Hawa Aaney De directed by Paris-based Partho Sengupta.
After its world premier at the recent Toronto International Film Festival, BAFTA award-winning Brick Lane is likely to be screened before the British royalty in October this year.
Among the films specially screened for the royalty previously were Chariots of Fire, Krammer Vs Krammer, A Passage to India, Titanic, Casino Royale and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Besides, a wider audience awaits Brick Lane, which also has Indian actor Satish Kaushik and Christopher Simpson, as Sony Pictures has acquired the distribution rights of the film in North and South America.
In the film, Tannishtha plays the role of Nazneen, a Bangladeshi woman, who arrives in London, leaving behind her beloved sister and home, for an arranged marriage and a new life. Trapped within the four walls of her flat in East London, and in a loveless marriage with the middle aged Chanu (Satish Kaushik), she fears her soul is quietly dying. Her sister Hasina, meanwhile, continues to live a carefree life back in Bangladesh, stumbling from one adventure to the next. Nazneen struggles to accept her own lifestyle, and keeps her head down in spite of life’s blows, but she soon discovers that life cannot be avoided — and is forced to confront it the day when the hotheaded young radical Karim comes knocking at her door.
Apparently, Tannishtha won the role of Nazneen over well-known Indian actresses Nandita Das and Konkona Sen Sharma.
Although Monica Ali’s book is set in 80′s London, the movie is set in the backdrop of post September 11, 2001.
Although the shoot of Brick Lane had run into protests from a section of Bangladeshis in London, Tannishtha is confident that reservations about the film will go away once people get to see it.
In India, Tannishtha is at present working with debutant director Abhik Mukhopadhyay for his film Bhoomi in which she plays the role of an Assamese activist. She also reportedly has a couple of other offers.