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VERSATILE Lillette Dubey

VERSATILE Lillette Dubey   | Photo Credit: PHOTO: D. GOPALKRISHNA

Lillette Dubey on her forthcoming film “Bow Barracks Forever”

There may be no female parallel to Amitabh Bachchan, but at the rate Hindi filmdom is coming up with variety in storyboards, older women too are getting interesting roles. Irrespective of whether the films work at the box office, the roles, nonetheless, are impressive. Take Parzania for instance, in which Sarika plays a middle-aged Parsi woman. She also starred in Sacred Evil in an interesting role. Then came Yatra starring Rekha in the lead. Following suit is Bow Barracks Forever directed by famous Bengali actor and saxophonist Anjan Dutta. In the film ready to be screened by June end, Lillette Dubey plays a pivotal role.

Bow Barracks draws its name from an Army garrison in old Calcutta. It was leased out to Anglo-Indians after the Second World War. It still houses several Anglo-Indian families. But the barrack is now crumbling and is in desperate need of repair. This 118-minute English film is a tale of several resolute Anglo-Indian families living in this tattered barrack: their hopes, dreams, aspirations and how these lonely but courageous people react to the changes happening around them.



Made for the role

One can make out the excitement in Lillette Dubey’s voice as she talks about her role in the film, “Anjan flattered me by saying that this role was only for me, and if I didn’t agree to do it, he wouldn’t make the film! Thank God at this age, I got a role of substance. I play Emily Lobo, a 50-year-old widow. She makes cake and wine. She is spirited, feisty and glamorous. She doesn’t accept any nonsense. She saves money to call her son who lives in London. She leaves several messages for him and takes it for granted that the son is too busy saving money to call her back. The son, however, never calls her back in four years. There is a cheater called Peter (played by Victor Banerjee) who is in love with Emily and keeps wooing her. It feels nice to be pampered at this age,” laughs Dubey.

Dubey calls it “a feel-good film”. She doesn’t think it has brought her a role that could be compared to the kind Bachchan gets. Nonetheless, “it is meaty enough to make Bollywood realise it can, if it wants, find a strong female role in filmdom for aged women”.

Every character (Sabyasachi Chakravarty, Moon Moon Sen, Rupa Ganguly, Neha Dubey, Avijit Dutt, Clayton Rodgers and Sohini Pal) grows by the time the film ends, she states.

She has been extremely choosy about her film roles. “After Zubeidaa every director wanted me to play that kind of slightly vampish role, and after Gadar, they flooded me with roles of a strict mom. But I refused to be typecast. Some sensitive people realised it and offered me roles that I could like. They included Baghban and Corporate.”

Of late, she has signed some interesting roles. All of them are different. In Sanjay Gupta’s Pankh for instance, she plays an ambitious mother who has a complex relationship with her son. “This film is a story of 24 hours, done in flashback and flash-forward style. It is dark. It deals with gender confusion. Bipasha Basu and a new boy Maradona play pivotal roles in it.”

The varied line-up continues. “In Red Chilly Productions’ My Name is Anthony Gonsalves, I play an NRI, while in Saurabh Shukla’s I am 24, I am a glamorous producer, sort of a don in the film business. In Seven which is about seven blind people, I play a cop and in Fauj Main Mauj, I am the defence minister,” she says. She also appears in Harry Puttar, besides directing an unnamed woman-oriented film.

Quite a bouquet of roles!

RANA SIDDIQUI
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