Actress-director Konkona Sen Sharma is set to make a web series on the life of Arati Das, also known as Miss Shefali, the young Bengali girl who was called ‘Queen of Cabaret’ in Kolkatta during the 1960s and 70s.
The series, produced by Zee Studios, will also speak about the politics of Bengal during that period. Konkana said in a statement, “The whole era of post-partition and pre-liberalisation fascinated me. Since I am from Kolkata, I’ve been aware of the subject and her unique story.”
“It’s about the fascinating life of this female protagonist who decided to live life on her own terms, it’s extremely interesting, and right up my ally. That is why I decided to make this series,” she said.
Script work is on and casting for the series is currently underway. The project is likely to go on floors early next year. This is Konkona’s second directorial after the 2017 feature film A Death in the Gunj.
Ashima Avasthi, head of Zee Studios Originals said they were excited about the series and plan to produce more such original shows. “We will focus on especially curated stories that remain untold across genres such as biopics, crime thrillers, light-hearted comedies, slice of life dramas, dark comedies among others,” she said.
Arati Das, who is now in her 70s and lives in an apartment in Kolkatta, came to Bengal with her parents from Bangladesh when she was six. At 11, she started working in an Anglo-Indian house in Calcutta, and one of the guests who regularly visited this house helped her find job as a dancer in one of the poshest restaurants in the city. From there began her life as Miss Shefali, as her dance teacher called her. She trained in belly dance, ballet and other forms, performed in shows, and ruled the cabaret space of the city’s night clubs and bars. Much later she also acted in Satyajit Ray’s Seemabaddha and Pratidwandi, and wrote the book ‘Sandhya Raater Shefali’ (Shefali of the Twilight), which was published four years ago.
In 2012, there were reports that Gulbahar Singh, a national award-winning director, was planning to make a film on her life but there was no news of it later.