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Glam-girl on a door-to-door campaign, not to quit films

Now Didi has called me and wants me to stand for the people. So, I am here, says Debasree Roy
Winner of about 40 awards, including the National Film Award for Best Actress for the film Unishe April in 1995, and known in friend circles as Chumki, Ms Debasree Roy has, indeed, added glitter to the Assembly election. A Trinamul Congress candidate from Raidighi, South 24-Parganas, she would contest opposite CPI-M veteran Mr Kanti Ganguli who has been winning from the seat since 2001. A member of the advisory committee of KMC, Debasree Roy also runs an NGO ~ Debasree Roy Foundation ~ for street dogs. The actress seen jiving on the song, Aami Kolkatar rosgulla, along with acting in path-breaking films like Chowringhee Square and Ek Je Aachhe Kanya, is now busy holding door-to-door campaigns at Raidighi from 9 am till 7 pm. After a hard day’s work at Raidighi, she tells Soma Basu how she wants to serve the people. Excerpts…

Q. The decision to come into politics was sudden?

A. I did not take the decision. Miss Mamata Banerjee decided to field me as a candidate. She thought I was needed and so I have stood beside her since the state needs a change from years of anarchy and misrule.

Q. During the Singur-Nandigram episode, several people from the film industry voiced their views openly and the intellectual lobby came to the fore. Why did you not speak then?

A. Yes, it’s true that I did not speak up. But I was equally hurt. And I stood by Didi since the series of incidents shook me to the core. One doesn’t have to be at the spot to sympathise. Was it needed to go there every day to show what you felt? I had my own stand on the issue but felt that it was not the right time to speak up.

Q. You have been an advisory committee member of KMC. How have you contributed?

A. I was told to look after the animal section. I revamped the Entally and Dhapa dog pounds and have been looking after them single-handedly.

Q. Anything else you did?

A. What else could have been done…tell me.

Q. What do you think are the major problems that the people of Raidighi are facing?

A. There are several problems in the area. The road conditions are so bad that people have to travel in autos. One has to rely on auto-rickshaws to go from one place to another. The houses in the villages do not have electricity. Also, there is a drinking water scarcity and there are not many tube-wells in the area. There is a river ~ Moni ~ which has become clogged and so people are having a lot of problem.

Q. How challenging is it to fight opposite Mr Kanti Ganguli?

A. It is indeed challenging. But for the last couple of days, I have been meeting the people of Raidighi and have been holding meetings. And people have accepted me. I am not new to them. The bond between the people and Raidighi and me exists since I started acting as a child artiste. They have accepted my movies and showered me with praise. I am sure they would do the same now that I am contesting election. After meeting the people here, I am confident that I would be able to make a ground for me here.

Q. If you are elected, what would be your first priority?

A. I would repair the roads and improve transport services here. This is something which needs to be done at the earliest. Then I would also see that the Moni River, which is a lifeline for several fishermen, is dredged. During my visits, a woman told me how her house was flattened by cyclone Aila. A lot of people I met alleged that they did not get any aid after Aila. The ministers had said a lot of work had been done after Aila lashed the Sunderbans. But I see nothing. They got a lot of money from the Centre. Then why is the area in such a mess?

Q. Is this a retirement from acting?

A. Of course not. I will continue to act in movies. People know that I do not act in a lot of movies and I am very choosy about roles. I will surely act in movies that are good.

Q. Would you be able to take time out for your constituency and party work?

A. Obviously. What’s the problem? I will have enough time and will be there whenever the people need me.

Q. Were you ever offered a ticket before?

A. Yes, I was offered ticket several times but I had refused because at the time when people had approached me to enter politics my priorities were different. I had to concentrate on films and wouldn’t have been able to give time to politics. Now Didi has called me and wants me to stand for the people. So, I am here.

Soma Basu

Soma Basu

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