Madhur Bhandarkar‘s India Lockdown will highlight the impact that the pandemic induced lockdown had on lives of different people and the film recently went on floors. The film comprises four interconnected stories and in one of them, Shweta Basu Prasad is playing a sex worker called Mehrunissa.
The actor visited Mumbai’s Kamathipura area with Bhadarkar as part of research for her character and to get the nuances right.
Talking about it, she said, “I believe that the characters I play are real and I like to dive deep into them. Unless I do that, the audience will not engage with the character. I also work extensively to write a backstory for them and be a part of the tech recce. In this case, I’m playing Mehrunissa, a sex worker. Two weeks ago, Madhur sir and I, with our team, went to Kamathipura, where we met many sex workers.”
“Sir felt that my language was too polished for the part, so the idea was to understand how much I have to change my language and get comfortable with their other nuances. He wanted me to meet the women to understand how they think. They had such overwhelming stories about their lives, the way the lockdown impacted them and their business. It was an experience of a lifetime to just get a first-hand insight into their living conditions and their houses. It all helped me write a backstory,” she further added.
When asked if she had any apprehensions visiting the red-light area, the actress said, “I’m a student of journalism and have seen and made documentaries. Besides, this trip was related to my work. The only apprehension was to not say something inappropriate or ask questions that may make them feel uncomfortable. I didn’t want to cross that line. The women were generous to open up about their life stories, they helped us in our narrative. As an artiste, this is one of those precious times in life when one gets to push the envelope. And guess what? I did meet a Mehrunissa there. My character is dedicated to her; she’s just like the character I am playing.”
“With Madhur sir on my side, I am certain we will sail through. Besides, I’ve also seen Tabu in Chandni Bar (2001), Kareena Kapoor Khan in Chameli (2003), Konkona Sensharma in Traffic Signal (2007), and Smita Patil and Shabana Azmi in Mandi (1983). And now, it’s my turn to bring the sex-workers’ heartbreakingly beautiful stories on to the big screen,” she concluded.
Inspired by true events, the film stars Prateik Babbar, Saie Tamhankar, Aahana Kumra and Ayeesha Aimen among others.
"With Masters in Mass Communications, this former beauty queen has an opinion on just about everything under the sun and even beyond that. Her passion for writing and everything that spells films and fashion, are the reasons why she made a career in entertainment journalism"