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November 2, 2001
Sushmita's Labour Pains!
Sushmita Sen pauses to adjust her 'artificial womb'.
She then gets on her knees to click pictures of a model, but the pain is too much to bear. She must sit down on a stool. The pain doesn't ease up and she sinks slowly to the floor.
We are on the sets of director Meghna Gulzar's debut film Filhaal. And the cast is in the midst of a rehearsal. Filhaal is the tale of two women and surrogate motherhood. The two key roles in the film are played by Tabu and Sushmita Sen.
The set -- a photographer's studio. "I play a photographer in the film and I am in the last stages of pregnancy," reveals Sushmita.
Back to the rehearsal....The model seems agitated with the going-ons. The shoot coordinator, the third character, asks Sush if everything's okay. Sush says that she's fine.
But, the shot can't be pictured right and the model is irked. "If you aren't well, we can do this another day," the coordinator loses her cool.
Sush apologises; she doesn't want to postpone the shoot. She gives it another shot, but in vain. In tones dripping with sarcasm, the coordinator tells Sush to go home, have the baby and come back when and if she feels like it.
Sush looks helpless.
The rehearsal is great.
But director Meghna wants Sush to modify her character's expressions. She wants her to be more defiant. They're ready for the take.
That goes off well and the actress and director rush to watch it on the monitor. But they aren't too pleased with a certain expression and decide to go in for a re-take.
Meghna prompts the model, the coordinator and Sush to experiment with their reactions. The scene ends with Sush defying the coordinator and proceeding with the shoot. Mehgna prods Sush on... she must look angrier, more defiant, she can't feel sorry for being pregnant.
Sush follows Meghna's cues to the T and the shot is canned.
"It is such a wonderful role and I am glad that Meghna chose me to play it, " says Sush dressed in an elegant yet modest black outfit." Any actress would give her right arm for the role. I'm usually very critical about my work but I like the way my role has shaped up in Filhaal."
She is all praise for Meghna too: "It's a sensitive topic and Meghna has dealt with it very well," she says admiringly. Meghna Gulzar, Bosky to her pals, has taken to the direction like a fish to water. But considering her illustrious background and the lineage -- father Gulzar, the renowned lyricist and mother actress Rakhee -- that was expected.
The actress is also enthused by the fact that she has been pitted against Tabu. "It's a challenge keeping up with her. Thanks to Tabu, I constantly on my toes and because of that I'm able to perform better," she smiles.
India News Features Service
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