Sushmita Banerjee was daring, outspoken: 'Escape From Taliban' director

Kolkata, Sep 6 : Expressing shock over the killing of Indian author Sushmita Banerjee by suspected Taliban militants in Afghanistan, filmmaker Ujjwal Chatterjee Friday remembered Banerjee as a "daring" and "outspoken" woman.

Banerjee, a Kolkata native, who wrote a popular memoir about her escape from the Taliban was shot dead in Afghanistan's Paktika province by suspected Taliban militants, police said Thursday.

Chatterjee, a Bengali filmmaker, had adapted Banerjee's memoir - "A Kabuliwala's Bengali Wife" - on her escape from Afghanistan and life under the Taliban militia, into the 2003 film "Escape From Taliban".

"She had approached me in November 2000 with her book and had requested me to make a film on it. The book blew me away. It was very well written and had vivid details," Chatterjee told IANS.

"She was a daring and outspoken lady who was a pathfinder of women's liberation. I am extremely shocked," said Chatterjee.

Married to an Afghan businessman Jaanbaz Khan, Banerjee, 49, was killed outside her home in southeastern Paktika province. The book about her dramatic escape in 1995 became a bestseller in India.

Starring actress Manisha Koirala who essayed the role of Banerjee, the celluloid adaptation was shot in parts of Leh and Ladakh, Jaisalmer and Mumbai.

"She wanted Manisha to portray her role. We met for months after months in 2001, 2002 and 2003 to discuss filming. She was present throughout the story session with Manisha and me. Even during shooting and post-production she was present," recalled Chatterjee.

Tweets and messages condoling Banerjee's death flooded social networking sites.

Noted historical novelist William Dalrymple tweeted, "Such a sad story: the killing of Sushmita Banerjee, just part of the ever-growing lawlessness of Afghanistan."

Banerjee recently moved back to Afghanistan to live with her husband. According to BBC, she was known as Sayed Kamala.

Celebrated Indian columnist and novelist Shobhaa De equated Banerjee's death to the attack on Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai October 2012 by the Taliban.

"Another Malala. R.I.P. Sushmita Banerjee. Intellectual martyr," tweeted De.

Malala was shot by the Taliban for promoting education for girls in Pakistan's Khyber PukhtoonKhwa province where extremists had issued a diktat banning education for females.

--IANS (Posted on 06-09-2013)

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