Madhumita Sarcar plays the role of Parna, who is a 30-year-old woman and teaches English at a school in Kolkata. Parna is a fictional character, who is excited to talk about her parents. Parna has a brightness in her as a young person would when speaking about their life but as the conversation proceeds her voice stiffens as if hiding a secret or an old wound. Sarcar finds Parna intense and had to specifically understand Parna’s crisis for the Bengal web series Uttoron.
Madhumita Sarcar feels that she is the exact opposite of who Parna is. “I am super hyperactive,” she says in an interview with SheThePeople. Although both the women share the excitement of sharing about themselves and their life with no filter.
Sarcar is a Bengali actor, who started as a model and then went on to act in television serials, films and now web series. After the hit, Bengali serial Bojhena Se Bojhena in 2013, her character Pakhi became a household name and even after so many shows like Kusum Dola and films like Love Aaj Kal Porshu and Cheeni, she is still recognised by her fan as Pakhi.
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In an interview with SheThePeople, apart from talking about her character in Uttoron, which will be released online on a Bengali streaming platform called Hoichoi, Sarcar talks about how Bengali serials content have progressed over the years, stereotypical Bengali characters in Hindi films that she despises and dealing with pandemic as an actor on set and at home.
Talking about her role, Sarcar said that Parna is different and complex. She is a woman fighting her way to make a point. “First, I had to understand the crisis of the character, what she is going through in the entire web series. Then the background of the story helps a lot,” Sarcar said, adding, “I look up to the director and trust him very much because he has got the entire picture.”
The web series by Joydeep Mukherjee revolves around Parna and her journey before and after coming to know that an Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) of her’s has been leaked. It is about Parna dealing with the impacts that the leak has on her life. From her own family disowning her over something she has no control over, the show aims to chalk out her life, struggles and then a fight to start afresh. It also stars Rajdeep Gupta, Swastika Dutta, amongst others. The show is produced by SVF.
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In Parna’s character introduction video on YouTube, she said that Bengali parents when talking about the marriage of their daughter say that “biye diye diye chi” which translates into “gave my daughter in marriage” but she said that she was never given to anyone, she simply married someone.
Sarcar believes that a character like this and a story about someone like Parna is important in today’s time and space. “I think this will morally boost women, who have actually gone through such scenarios like MMS leak or who have had you know, a situation where they had to answer to questions like this or maybe even a video has not been leaked but some rumour has been fed,” Sarcar said.
Madhumita feels that it will help people, who have personally not seen a woman go through the ordeals but in some way contributed to the torment in the form of gossip or rumours, understand when they will see her character go through it all on phone screen “It will be relatable to a girl who has gone through MMS-like situations and hopes to give them strength, while it will also show the man who does it and how it is wrong and a crime,” she said.
For Sarcar the role that she is offered for a series or a film needs to be impactful. She wants them to remember the character after they are done watching a film or a web series. The character also needs to be interesting and has to give her lots of homework to do. “I actively look for projects that challenge me more than my earlier characters,” Sarcar said.
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There is no character that Sarcar does not want to play. “Maybe if it’s a repetition of my previous character, I will not say yes. Only this might contribute to me saying no to a character. If I get a character that is fresh, even if it is negative or positive, anything but it needs to be impactful enough,” she said.
As an actor, she is not very keen on seeing her film or web series before it is released but unfortunately has to watch snippets of it for dubbing purposes. Sarcar said, “I like to watch it as an audience and I judge myself a lot like how I have acted. I am very harsh to myself as an actor.”
Women Characters In Serials
Over the years the characters of women have evolved in terms of the approach by creators. “We did not use to give much importance to the women’s character. They just used to be instructed like you are the glue of the family and you have to hold everything together, no matter what happens and you have to hold integrity,” Sarcar said.
But now she feels that the instruction for women has changed over the years. They have become empowered, they are working to provide for their family and are standing up for their rights rather than just glueing broken pieces together. “Women characters are becoming stronger day by day. After I left television and now that I am working in films, whatever character that has come to me, they are strong and interesting and I feel great to portray them,” she said.
Other Than Being An Actor
Personally, Sarcar said that she is a hyperactive person and always keeps herself busy. “When I’m home, I’m always up to something like either I’m studying something or now I’m learning a different language,” she said. She is learning Telugu for her upcoming project.
Sarcar knows Bengali, Hindi and English, and other than learning Telugu, she has also learnt French as a language and given an A1 exam, which tests the basic understanding of the language, for a character.
Before the pandemic due to coronavirus began, staying home for more than three hours seemed like a task for her. She always felt the need to step out even if it is just for a drive. “People said that maybe I’m a little bit crazy to be so energetic,” she laughed, on-call.
But after 2020, life changed a little for her. At first, she found the confinement of four walls a task but then grew to it. “I learnt how to spend time with myself, which earlier I wasn’t used to. So now I know what to do when I am alone and am not completely clueless,” she said.
Last year, she bought a table tennis table. She and her father started playing it every day. “It indulged my father too as he didn’t have any sports play. He is 61 years old. And now that we play every day, he has come out of his own depression. Now he is my trainer. So he has got something,” recalled Sarcar. For her, the family has come together.
Bengali Stereotypes In Hindi Films
It is not a stereotype but Sarcar would love to not watch “fake Bengali accent in Hindi”. The other would be lal par shaada sari (white sari with red border),” when it is not a puja scene especially Doshomi or Lokhi Pujo, nobody wears white saree with red border,” Sarcar said.
In food habit stereotypes, she wants the Hindi films to stop showing every Bengali in love with “roshogolla and mach (rasgulla and fish).” The eternal obsession that Bengalis only hear Rabindra Sangeet and the craziness over Howrah bridge. “You know how characters sometimes go- humara Kolkata bhi cholo, hum tumhe dikhata hai (come to my Kolkata, I will show it to you) needs to stop,” she said while mimicking the stereotypical Bengali character’s Hindi accent in films.