“I haven’t spoken with Rituda recently, the last was during the National Awards,” says Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. She however confirms that she has discussed a screen adaptation of Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s famous Bengali novel, Devi Chaudhurani, with the director with whom she had earlier collaborated on Chokher Bali, adapted from Rabindranath Tagore’s Binodini, and Raincoat, inspired by a short story by O Henry.
Devi Chaudhurani was first published in 1884 and later translated into English by Subodh Chunder Mitter. It chronicled the revolutionary charge by a woman at a time when most were still behind purdah (veil). Threatened by Devi Chaudhurani’s patriotic fervour that brought more women out on the streets, the British banned the book. The ban was lifted only post-Independence.
Rituparno had reportedly approached Aishwarya for the Hindi-Bengali bilingual when they were filming Chokher Bali and got a nod from her when she was in Kolkata last year to accept a Best Actress award for Raavan. “My relationship with Rituda goes back a long way. He’s narrated almost every film subject to me. Whenever we meet he says, “‘Bubbu, let’s do it’ and I’m like, ‘Sure’” laughs Aishwarya, pointing out that both, Chokher Bali and Raincoat have bagged National Awards, for Best Feature Film in Bengali and Best Feature Film in Hindi, respectively. “It’s a subject that hasn’t been attempted on screen before and would be great to experiment with. Rituda wants to make Devi Chaudhurani only with me. I’m ready but now he’s busy with his dance drama, Chitrangada—The Crowning Wish. Let’s see when it happens.”
When asked about the subject, Rituparno confirms and says, “Yes, Devi Chaudhurani is happening. I’ve always wanted to make this film with Aishwarya but she’s been really busy the last couple of years with her movies and more recently, Hugh Jackman. May be when she is free (we’ll do the film).”