Bag is a curious surname to get right in pronunciation. “My surname is actually pronounced as ‘baag’ — similar to tiger, but without an “h”. I am like a tiger, ready to pounce!” says actress Bidita Bag with a mischievous smile, as we catch up for a quick chat.
She calls herself a minimalist and practises the simple life. “Honestly, I try to make minimal use of resources. Be it water, food, clothes, energy... because I feel our planet has limited resources. The population has exceeded way too much. It is my way of doing my bit to reduce my carbon footprint. My motto is to do my best, always,” she says. It is her superb performance in her debut film Babumoshai Bandookbaaz (where she wielded her acting chops admirably when paired with ace actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui) that won her the lead role in The Sholay Girl, based on Reshma Pathan — Hema Malini’s double who performed the stunts for her in the iconic Hindi blockbuster, Sholay.
Biopics are big in Bollywood at the moment. How did she net the role of Reshma Pathan? “I believe the Zee5 team liked my performance in Babumoshai Bandookbaaz. I am grateful to them for giving me this extraordinary biopic,” she says, modesty in full glow. Of course she is extremely fit, with yoga, martial arts, cardio, weight training...running through her weekly fitness schedule. A prerequisite, in addition to great acting skills, for being able to pull off the role with ease.
It wasn’t easy, measuring up to Nawaz’s talent on screen but Bidita proved her mettle. “Nawaz is an exceptional actor. The best thing about him is that he makes his co-star feel very comfortable. We had a few difficult intimate scenes but the way he co-operated with me is beyond words. He is very down-to-earth. I have learnt a lot from him. He talks less and acts merely using his body language,” a distillate of years of struggle. It is a delight to listen to him and work with him.”
Bidita counts her shoot schedules for The Sholay Girl as enervating fun. “It was great getting to know Reshma better: she and I are very fond of each other. She was very protective about me during the making of the movie as I am a complete action chick and performed most of the stunts myself. We used professional experts for only a couple of scenes,” she says. Bidita counts her “fighting spirit” as a common attribute with Reshma. “I owe my success to my never-say-die spirit. I am not an industry kid, I have come from a small town, faced family opposition, multiple rejections for roles, and struggled to make a name for myself. I was a professional model (she worked aplenty with Kolkatta-based designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee and Kiran Uttam Ghosh), dabbled in television commercials and then took to acting,” shares Bidita. She is multilingual as well and has an enviable ability to articulate well in Bengali, Hindi, English, Oriya, Nepali, Assamese...
Less is more
What distinguishes her instantly from her peers? Well, she believes in repeating her outfits at public appearances. “I am a minimalist, so the lesser, the better for me. I do not think it is hara-kiri because in day-to-day life too we repeat clothes,” she says crisply. Of course, her closet is full of superb clothes, by her own admission, gifted by fashion designer Sabyasachi. “I wear comfortable, breathable clothes. My five favourite picks are a saree, chikan kurti, white shirt with denims, a long maxi dress and a short black dress.”
Her choice of offbeat films is enamouring. “For me, acting is my passion and profession, both. I feel in off-beat films you get to represent real-life characters, struggles, emotions... I want my audiences to feel and think for a moment after watching my film.”