Cast: Vidya Balan, Pallavi Sharda, Gauhar Khan, Naseeruddin Shah, Chunky Pandey, Ila Arun, Ashish Vidyarthi, Rajit Kapoor, Vivek Mushran, Poonam Singh Rajput, Ridheema Tiwari, Flora Saini, Priyanka Setia, Mishti Chakraborty, Sumit Nijhawan, Pitobash and Rajesh Sharma.
Director: Srijit Mukherji
Editor: Monisha R. Baldawa
Casting Director: Mukesh Chhabra
Music: Anu Mallik
Background & Story:
The film delves into the lives of 11 women living in a brothel that finds itself divided by the newly-chalked LOC, with half of the house in India and the other half in Pakistan post-partition. When officials pressurize the brothel's madam, Begum Jaan (Vidya Balan) and her girls to vacate the premises, the women put up a fight to protect the space and to make sure they are not displaced.
Writer-director Srijit Mukherji, who has been working for the last seven years in the Bengali film industry, came into the limelight with his debut film, Autograph (2010) starring Prosenjit Chatterjee. He has now turned to Bollywood with Begum Jaan. The original Bengali version, which had Rituparna Sengupta in the lead was also written and directed by him.
Apparently, he had initially envisaged the project as bilingual in Hindi and Bengali to be shot in parallel. Srijit had gone to Vidya Balan with the initial project for both the versions but at that time she was not in a position to do it and the plans were postponed. He then started planning the film in Bengali alone, for which he approached Rituparna. Rajkahini went to several film festivals and also received awards.
Srijit revealed in an interview that it was when he had come down to Mumbai to check the subtitles of Rajkahini, that Mahesh Bhatt saw the film and expressed his desire to do it in Hindi. Bhatt suggested that the film be dubbed so it could reach out to many more people, but Srijit felt that in dubbing, the original flavor would be lost. The two then decided to transform it into a new film in Hindi. That is how Begum Jaan was born.
According to Srijit, the film has been rewritten for the Hindi version and there cannot be any comparison between the two versions. While the plot points and events are similar, the characterization is different.
The trailer of the film was released last month and Vidya Balan received praise for her bold and ferocious portrayal of a brothel owner. The other actors, too, look impressive in their parts. However, it is actor Chunky Pandey who looks strikingly different. If you haven't watched the trailer yet, watch it here:
Don't forget to read our Begum Jaan review on April 14!