Soft lights, mood music, haunting Hindi tunes and a puff of smoke set the tone for a Wiccan Literary Evening, presented by The Young Bengal Brigade, at Taj Bengal recently. Along with actress Sarika and filmmaker Anjan Dutt, Wiccan high priestess Ipsita Roy Chakraverti delved into the unknown even as members of the Brigade brought to life characters from her books Sacred Evil and Spirits I Have Known . Excerpts from a chat between Ipsita and Sarika, who had played the wiccan healer in the 2006 film Sacred Evil — A True Story.
Ipsita: Sarika, you are a warrioress. You have fought a hard life and you have come through. How have you managed?
Sarika: When you are fighting it, you don't know how you are doing it. It just comes. I fought it for myself. It was important for me to know as a woman that the person I was born as was still intact. Experience takes away a lot from us, it also gives us a lot. And finally it's your soul or spirit or self- respect that holds your hand and tells you, ' It's okay, you can go on.' You have to fight for your selfrespect. It's only about you.
Ipsita: In most of my stories, you'll find that the protagonist is a woman, who has fought a hard life, who has suffered, who has seen life but who is still fighting. That's why I feel you could have been one of my woman protagonists. As a woman, you have never complained. What makes you silent and strong?
Sarika: Silent because I have been obsessively protective about my privacy. One is not going to lose one's dignity. I could live with being misunderstood. But I cannot live without dignity.
Ipsita: You were the first actor on screen to play a Wiccan ( in the film Sacred Evil ). What did you feel about that? Sarika: I felt beautiful. The child in me was also very excited.... Somewhere the professional and personal lines got blurred. When I was actually handling the tools and the crystal of Wicca, the way you asked me to hold it, I was experiencing that energy.
Ipsita: Calcutta was a big presence in Sacred Evil . What did you think about it?
Sarika: It was one of the most important characters in the film.Like the house in The Shining , which was the second hero of the film, Calcutta was like that in Sacred Evil . I am very fond of this place… there is enigma, mystery. There is a lot of energy in this place.
Ipsita: You are also into Buddhism. Would you say Buddhism and Wicca are alike?
Sarika: They are very different, but there's a meeting point. The common factor here is the source of energy which is unknown, unseen. You are the face of wicca for me. Qualities of Buddhism like strength, discipline, I see in you. I find the same guidance, dependability, discipline and strength, so maybe that's the common thing.
Wicca in cinema
Anjan: Do you think the concept of horror, spirits have been rightly dealt with in Indian cinema?
Ipsita: Currently, film- makers are either dealing with it in a gory, bloody, theatre of the absurd kind of way, or as a spoof, maybe because they do not understand the subject or they are afraid of the subject. The portrayal of the supernatural in films is completely wrong. The portrayal of the witch comes under a caricature.
Sarika: When they started making horror films, they didn't know how to make a good horror film. I wish we could make films like Rosemary's Baby . That's how you deal with the supernatural. Not even The Exorcist , that's a different school of filmmaking.
Anjan: It's a lack of the understanding of the supernatural. But most great filmmakers at some point of time have tried to understand the issue and made films on the supernatural.
Anjan Dutt emerged from the audience singing the song The Music of the Night from The Phantom of the Opera. He performed a piece from the story Mannequin from Spirits I Have Known
According to Wiccan priestess Ipsita Roy Chakraverti, Bollywood actor Sarika is a witch in all ways. “You have the three ‘Ds’ that are a part of the Wicca code – discipline, dignity and undaunted spirit. You were the first actor to play a Wiccan on screen and hold the original Wiccan instruments. I would call you a witch in all ways,” said Ipsita at an interactive session with the actor at a city hotel recently.
Sarika portrayed the role of Ipsita in the film Sacred Evil (2006) and has been associated with Ipsita since then. Wicca is a pagan, witchcraft religion that works towards eradicating superstition and answering questions that science cannot.
Ipsita and Sarika’s conversation was preceded by an act by filmmaker Anjan Dutt. The powerful act was based on a real-life case Ipsita had dealt with and written about in her book ‘Spirits I Have Known’.
“I knew only about bad witches till I started work on Sacred Evil. Ipsita was to teach me some rituals for it. I decided to meet her then. From then on, the character I was to play became special to me,” said Sarika about her experience of portraying the role.
Sarika said Kolkata is the right place for the supernatural to exist, as the city has a lot energy, enigma and history behind it. On witchcraft’s comparison with Buddism – another faith she follow, the actress said, “The two are completely different things, but their common factor is the source of energy. The source of energy for both witchcraft and Buddhism remains unknown, unseen.”
A Wiccan literary evening on Saturday saw Anjan Dutt delivering a monologue on the concept of evil. The event, the theme of which was the duality of sacred and evil, saw actress Sarika and Wiccan researcher Ipsita Roy Chakraverti reading out supernatural tales. When asked about what drew him to Wicca, Anjan Dutt said, “What I like about Wicca is that it dares people to think differently.” Sarika added, “I believe in energies, and so I believe in Wicca.”
ভূত আছে কী নেই? এই প্রশ্নটা নিয়ে তোলপাড় সারা বিশ্ব | পিছিয়ে নেই ভারতবর্ষ | অলৌকিক চর্চা নিয়ে ভারতের নাম সুবিদিত | এদেশে অলৌকিক তথ্য ভৌতিক শক্তি নিয়ে প্রচুর লেখা লিপিবদ্ধ হয়েছে | তাছাড়া ভারতীয় সিনেমাতেও বিভিন্ন সময়ে ভূতপ্রেত কেন্দ্রিক ছবি সম্প্রচারিত হয়েছে | একটা সময়ে ভারতবর্ষে রামসে ব্রাদার্সদের তৈরি ভূতের একাধিক ছবি সিনেমা হলে সম্প্রচারিত হত | কিন্তু এই সব তথাকথিত ভূতের ছবিতে অশরীরি বা প্রেতাত্মাদের ভূল ভাবে উপস্থিত করা হয়েছে | এমনটাই বিশ্বাস কারেন চলচিত্রাভিনেত্রী শারিকা, পরিচালক অঞ্জন দত্ত এবং বাংলা তথা ভারতবর্ষের সুপরিচিত ডাইনি তন্ত্রের ধারক হিসাবে খ্যাতি সম্পন্ন ইপ্সিতা রায় চক্রবর্তী |
সারিকার মতে ৯০ দশকে ভারতীয় সিনেমাতে যেভাবে ভূতের ছবি তুলে ধরা হয়েছে তা একেবারেই কাম্য নয়ে | এরফলে এই অলৌকিক দুনিয়ার প্রতি অসম্মান করা হয়েছে | উল্লেখ্য এইসব তথাকথিত ভূতের ছবিতে একসময়ে মুখোশ পড়া প্রেতাত্মাদের তুলে ধরা হত | কিন্তু তারফলে প্রকৃতভাবে অশরীরিরদের সম্পর্কে বিভ্রান্তি তৈরি করা হয়েছে | আসলে এইসব অলৌকিক দুনিয়া সম্পর্কিত ছবিতে যেটা অনুপস্থিত সেটা হল অশরীরির ‘অ্যাব্স্ট্রাক্ট’ উপস্থিতি | অর্থাত্ যাকে ধরাও যায়ে না ছোঁয়াও যায়ে না | উল্লেখ্য শারিকা নিজেই ইপ্সিতা রায় চক্রবর্তীর চরিত্রে অভিনয়ে করেছেন একটি ছবিতে |
এছাড়া জনপ্রিয় পরিচালক অঞ্জন দত্তও আগামী দিনেও ইপ্সিতার গল্প অবলম্বনে বড় পরদায়ে একটি শিহরণ জাগানো ভূতের বই নির্মাণ করতে চলেছেন | বিমল রায়ের মধুমতি দ্বারা উদ্বুদ্ধ অঞ্জন তাতে প্রকৃত ছবিটা তুলে ধরতে চান |