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'Prostitution is like any other job'

She is among Bollywood's most talented actors, one whose performances have only improved with time. Her latest, Chingaari, has her playing the role of a prostitute. Sushmita Sen talks about the film, working with director Kalpana Lajmi, the infamous publicity episode involving co-star Anuj Sawhney, her forthcoming projects and more…

"Kalpanaji came to me a long time ago with a script for the film Singhasaan. But when you work with a person like her, you have certain expectation as an actor. I felt Singhasaan wasn't that role, so we forgot about it. After a long gap, she came to me again. This time, it was for Chingaari.

The best part of the film is that Kalpana and I are devout followers of Maa Durga, who is an integral part of the script. Chingaari is my tribute to my goddess Durga and to my profession. I had just one question for Kalpana: 'Do you think I can do the role of Basanti?' The image I had as Sushmita didn't fit into the character of a prostitute. She replied saying that if she had Basanti played by someone who looked like Basanti, it wouldn't have excited her as a director. She had a point.

On the first day, when I saw myself after makeup, I didn't have the guts to step out of the van. I requested Kalpanaji to come in, and she said 'Wow.' I told her I couldn't come out because I looked strange, but she said, 'Get used to it.'

In my career, I have never had a problem getting into or out of a character. This took me a long time. I would return home and continue speaking in Bhojpuri. I started becoming an embarrassment. Even the way I would sit changed. I think I fell in love with Basanti.

Text: Patcy N

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