This scene was one of the most challenging ones in the film ‘Midnight Blues’. It might have been risky for the actors who were portraying the protagonist prostitute characters in my film.
The scene was about the sex workers mothers looking for the customers in the evening time.
Bipuljit wanted the shot to be taken inside the brothel where the sex workers stand every night to pick up the clients. The technician sex worker mothers and their young children worked in this film as the Line Producer had designed the scene for them.
The sex workers themselves decked the actors up draped in similar clothes, Saree and cosmetics. The two actors Manosree and Shilvia had to appear in a hotspot queue, jostling with the real-life sex workers in the peak hour of evening in Kalighat, Kolkata.
It was really challenging because it might have involved risk. Most of the sex seeking customers are notorious, adamant drunkard, coming from a variety of criminal background, maybe carrying some weapons with themselves.
The camera was placed in a hidden spot and no one was aware of it. There was strictly no Sound –camera-action. The camera was kept rolling for hours.
Meanwhile, the daily customers appeared, barring the actors' way, asking for their price rate as they thought the girls might be newcomers, imported and engaged in the flesh-trade recently.
Nervous, but not being cowed, the actors' girls kept haggling with the odd men for a few minutes every time so that the shot could be completed. The blood raced along their vein and heaved and knocked under the skull, but Manosree and Shilvia didn't give in. They strutted out like a real-life sex worker inside the brothel area.
The sex worker community was so protective about the actors during the shot, keenly observing the situation.
In the nick of time, they had to intervene resisting the aggressive customers, saying - 'Shooting is going on. Please don't make a fuss with them'. On hearing of the shooting going on, the men slunk back in the adjoining darker alleys immediately.
MIDNIGHT BLUES, directed by Bipuljit Basu is a complete PARTICIPATORY FILM in which the sex worker community had designed the entire production as a line producer.
Sex workers and their young children joining the film industry for alternative livelihood option and deciding not to let their second-generation into sex trade have a relevant social impact in women empowerment discourse.
Cinema can also be an instrument for social change.