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When Raveena Tandon signed on the film Shobhna's Seven Nights earlier this year, she was confident that this film, touted as her 'comeback vehicle', would be well-received in the festival circuit. "The movie traces a week in the life of a 40-something socialite and gossip columnist Shobhna, who gets into a relationship with a struggling Bollywood actor. Given the nature of this subject, I knew that this was a small but moving film that would win recognition at film festivals," she says matter-of-factly.
And if the reviews at the film festivals are anything to go by, Tandon's move has paid off very well. Not only has the film — directed by Sudipto Chattopadhyay (of Pankh fame) — been appreciated at film festivals such as the Chicago South Asian Film Festival and the Kolkata film festival, but it has also won her adulation. In fact, at the Houston Film Festival, which concluded in October, Tandon bagged the Best Actress award for her portrayal of Shobhna.
Accolades apart, the movie has also seen its share of controversy, with rumours saying that Tandon's character is modelled on columnist Shobhaa De. Moreover, the film also has a character called Harry Davidar — allegedly based on publisher David Davidar — who publishes Shobhana's novels at Walrus Publication, which has a logo quite similar to Penguin. The actor is quick to brush aside the rumours. "Yes, it's true that my character is that of a glamorous and intelligent society woman and author. Now that might give some people ideas, but the similarities between Shobhaa De and Shobhna end at that," she points out.
Director Sudipto Chattopadhyay, for whom this film marks his second celluloid venture after his debut Pankh, echoes the sentiment. When quizzed about his earlier statements — where he is said to have admitted to drawing a parallel between De and his main character — Chattopadhyay emphasises that he never made them. "Even the character Harry Davidar and his Walrus Publications is incidental and not intentional. All this talk is just speculation on the part of the media and let me clarify that both Raveena and I have the highest regard for Shobhaa De," he asserts.