Actress Flora Saini says she got to learn a lot as a performer while working with Bollywood star Vidya Balan in their upcoming “Begum Jaan”.
The period drama, set during India’s partition in 1947, is directed by Srijit Mukherji and stars Vidya in the lead role of a brothel’s madam. Saini, who was recently seen in Nagesh Kukonoor’s “Dhanak”, said she was initially a little intimated by “The Dirty Picture” star. “We all had a one month workshop, including with her.
Initially, I was a little intimidated by her during the workshops but not on sets. It was absolutely a learning experience working with her,” Saini told Pti. The film is the adaptation of the 2015 Bengali film “Rajkahini”, which was also directed by Srijit.
In the film, Saini plays the role of one of the girls in the brothel. The movie also stars Gauhar Khan and “Besharam” fame Pallavi Sharda. “‘Begum Jaan’ is a rustic film, and Vidya has no inhibitions as an actress.
For us, that was a huge moral booster. It is a heavy duty, intense film. So there were scenes where Vidya’s character had to be really cruel and harsh to us,” she said.
“There were days she (Vidya) used to come and hug us after the shoot, often even cry saying she felt bad and won’t be able to sleep at night without letting us know.”
The actress, who earlier also worked in Kukunoor’s “Lakshmi”, has featured predominantly in South films. She credits the “Iqbal” director for bringing out her best work. “I was so happy with my work in ‘Lakshmi’ but I wish it had got that (huge) kind of audience. Nagesh Kukonoor is a blessing. If not him, people wouldn’t have known my work.
He is a school in himself.” Saini now hopes “Begum Jaan” will take her places and give her a solid footing in the film industry. “The director (Srijit) had seen ‘Dhanak’ and liked my work in the film. I got a call from him and we met for the ‘Begum Jaan’. Now, whenever it is set for release, I hope more people see it and my work reaches a wider audience.”