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My next film is a tribute to Rituparno Ghosh: Celina Jaitly Haag


My next film is a tribute to Rituparno Ghosh: Celina Jaitly Haag

Kolkata girl Celina Jaitly Haag is back in the city after a decade. The former Miss India, who started her modelling career in Kolkata, is making a comeback with Ram Kamal Mukherjee’s Hindi film, Season’s Greetings, the shooting for which has brought the former Wood Street resident back to the city she likes to call her own. In a candid piece, the actress talks about the new side of modern Kolkata that amazes her, her connection with Rituparno Ghosh and recalls days when she would survive on phuchka, muri and ghughni. Here’s what Celina feels for the city that has witnessed her grow:

‘LET THERE BE YELLOW TAXIS’
am thrilled to be back here after 10 years! The way Kolkata has evolved amazes me. Culturally, Kolkata was always more evolved than its counterparts. But now, the city is adapting to the best of both worlds. Just look at the amazing infrastructure — the roads are so much better, cleaner and broader than before. The connectivity has improved with so many flyovers around. There are so many parks, malls and what not! The city looks beautiful at night with these decorative lights on the flyovers. My only wish is that the yellow taxis continue to stay on the roads, so that we can have something as iconic as the London cabs to be proud of.

‘RITUDA WAS A MODERN-DAY GOD’
I lost my mother four months ago. She wanted me to do a Bengali film for the longest time and that’s one of the reasons I am back in Kolkata. Although Season’s Greetings is a Hindi film, it has a strong Bengali connect. Ram Kamal and I go back a long way. Our film is also a tribute to Rituda (Rituparno Ghosh).

‘KOLKATA IS ADAPTING TO THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS’
Though I have enjoyed doing commercial movies, I missed out on the opportunity of working with Rituda. He had called me for a project, but I was expecting Winston and Viraaj at that time. Shortly after that, Rituda passed away. I had met him several times before and we would also talk over the phone. But our exchanges got friendlier after his father’s demise. You never go to Rituda for a film, he decides when he wants to cast you. For me, he was a modern-day God. Just like seasons have underlying shades of nature, Ram Kamal’s film has foundations of Rituda’s works that unfold through this story.

‘PARK STREET IS VERY SPECIAL TO ME’
A few days back, I happened to cross the Wood Street house where I used to live as a paying guest like any other struggler at that time. Like every other Bengali, Park Street holds a very special place in my heart. Once the shooting is over, I am planning to go there for dinner before flying back to Dubai. When I lived here, the Park Street Cemetery used to be my favourite haunt. I’ve heard that one of my ancestors, a British officer, was buried there. It is amazing that this journey, which probably began in the 18th century, brought me to Kolkata, where I learnt what real life was all about. From being a very superior Army officer’s spoilt daughter to learning so much about life, this city has witnessed me grow.

I still have a lot of friends here. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to meet Prabirda (the late makeup artist Prabir De) again, who was like a ‘mother figure’ to me.

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