By Subhash K. Jha, Indo-Asian News Service
Mumbai, (IANS) The release of Kalpana Lajmi's eagerly awaited "Chingari" has been postponed from December to January as lead actress Sushmita Sen has refused to promote the film.
"I don't know when I'll be able to release my film. I can't until my leading lady Sushmita Sen decides to promote and project the film. She's not just my USP, but also the film's whole and soul.
"'Chingari' without Sush is like Agra without the Taj Mahal. You cannot imagine the film without her. She's as integral to it as Shabana Azmi in 'Arth' or Dimple Kapadia in 'Rudaali'. I can't take the film to the audience without her."
What Kalpana is reluctant to spell out is Sushmita has taken offence to a story in an afternoon paper in which the film's romantic lead, Anuj Sawhney, bragged about how many retakes he did for a kissing sequence with Sushmita and even leaked a picture of the scene to the paper.
"I've repeatedly tried to contact Sush to explain my point of view. I had nothing to do with what the film's romantic lead had to say. He denies having said anything. But I know him better. I don't want to say anything about him now. My film is in enough trouble. I am a small filmmaker. As it is my film is in deep financial trouble. I can't bear any more delays."
Kalpana has made repeated efforts to contact Sushmita, but in vain.
"Though I have spoken to her mom and been in touch with her sister on the SMS, I haven't been able to speak to Sush."
Sounding utterly bereft and on the verge of tears, Kalpana doesn't know whom to blame for the current impasse with the leading lady.
"I don't blame Sushmita at all for her annoyance. She is a lady of great dignity. And by speaking like that, my romantic lead has made her feel compromised. As a woman and a sensitive filmmaker I completely empathise with her. But she can't punish the film for the wrongs of an individual."
Kalpana is willing to apologise publicly to Sushmita.
"Though I am in no way responsible for what happened I apologise to Sush. All said and done the director is responsible for everything that happens to the film."