Sensuous, bold and beautiful, Surveen Chawla has played diverse roles onscreen and has bowled viewers yet again with the portrayal of a seductive local dancer.
She was the last actor to be cast for the film. When Surveen first heard the narration, she "loved it” and “really wanted it”.
“I was in tears when Leena called me and said ‘You’re my Bijli’,” she told thestatesman.com.
"A feast for the eyes of village men", Bijli dances to fulfill physical desires of men. “The dancing is very different than what we’ve seen. It&’s cheap and crass,” she said.
Recounting one of the most “challenging” experiences on the set, she revealed, “When we were shooting the dance number, there were a lot of actual villagers there. Thousands of men stepped in and we saw sexual regression – they were climbing on the stage. Director Leena Yadav had to make all her assistants stand in front.”
“After seeing it, the men from neighbouring villages started coming in. We had villagers coming in and banging on the doors – Bijli chahiye humko!
Aggressive and angry, they were screaming in wrath that they were not getting to see Bijli.”
Spilling another “interesting” incident from the sets, she said, “There was a small girl who used to come on the sets. She had become friends with the entire cast but never met me as she wasn’t there in the night scene. One day, Leena told her, ‘Come I’ll make you meet the third one – Bijli.’ She said, ‘Suna hai unke bare mein, pappa ne bataaya tha’.”
While filming Parched, it was a “collaborative effort” within the team. “Stories were shared and experiences were exchanged, and the whole journey went on like that,” Surveen said.
“It might be a story of women in the village. But, it happens everywhere. Living in the city, while we are more educated and think that we are more progressive but in reality, we are way behind these women. The kind of conversations they have, I think they are really liberal in their thoughts,” she added.
“They talk about sex unabashedly,” Surveen confessed, adding “They share their sexual experiences with their female friends. I think we don’t do that. Domestic violence – women in the city cover it up but women over there discuss being beaten by their men.”
“It&’s ironical. Though we have the opportunity to fight it, we hide it. They don’t hide it, yet they do not have the opportunity.”
The film went on to win 18 international awards and was featured in 24 film festivals. “Language is no barrier for cinema,” Surveen said, adding, “When this film travelled the world, everyone could relate to every single story that was narrated. It&’s so universal.”
“It&’s been so liberating. It has transformed me as a person. It has taken away my judgment for each woman,” she said.