By Shoma A. Chatterji
How did you start your journey as an actor?
I began with student films at the Roop Kala Kendro. Television serials opened the window a bit wider and I got my first big role in Raat Bhor Brishti. Two big serials like Khela and Bonhishikha followed and made me a familiar face. My first feature film was Pagol Premi, a double version film in Odiya and Bengali. The film did not do well in Kolkata.
Now that you are in a position to pick and choose, what criteria do you apply while accepting an assignment?
I am an extremely greedy actor and look out first for the character I have been picked to play. The footage of the role is not important. I do not accept longer roles if I am not convinced about my level of happiness with the project. The director is the next important priority. Then the money which, the fatter it is, the better for my level of confidence. However, money is the not a top priority.
How do you define ‘acting’?
Acting, for me, means two things – one is the happiness it gives me to become another person. Two, the responsibility vested in me of bringing out that ‘another person’ according to the demands of the script and the director. I am very instinctive and follow my instincts within the director’s given framework.
You do not have the drop-dead looks of a matinee idol. Is this an asset or a liability?
I think it is my greatest asset. My face, figure and personality are the tools I use to my advantage. It gives me greater fluidity in to slipping under different characters than it would have had I been tall, dark and handsome. I exploit my ordinary looks for every character I play.
You have worked under the best directors in the industry. Who would you pick as the best learning experience?
I have learnt different things from each one of them. Kaushik Ganguly, who directed me in Shobdo, taught me how to restrain myself as an actor. ‘Control’ is one of the most important things an actor needs to follow. Raj Chakraborty, an old friend from television days, directed me in Le Chhakka and it was like being with ‘family.’ The same goes for Pradipta Bhattacharya who I worked with in Bakita Byaktigato. We have worked together in many telefilms. I loved working with old friend Indraneel Roy Choudhury in Phoring, where I played a terrorist. Anjan Dutt’s Chalo Lets Go was great because it came at the beginning of my career. The same goes for Sudeshna Roy and Abhijit Guha who gave me a great role in Cross Connection. Sekhar Das, in Necklace, was very clear in his brief. And the story goes on.
Which films would you pick as your favourites over the years?
I am fond of Pagol Premi because it is my first film. Bishwas Naa Korteo Paren is a short fiction film directed by friend Pradipto where I am almost the sole actor who is thrust by an identity crisis for no fault of mine. Then there is Shobdo, followed by Chalo Lets Go, Cross Connection, Necklace, Le Chakka and Love’s Labour Lost directed by Aditya Bikram Sengupta. Ek Phali Rodh is special because Atanu Ghosh always has a unique story to tell through original characters that are out-of-the-box. It has been a happy journey for me.
What are your upcoming projects?
I have played a role in Srijit Mukherjee’s Nirbak which was screened at the IFFI Goa. I am in one of the four stories where I play a morgue attendant. Then there is Partho Sen’s Anubrato Bhalo Aachho that has gone to the Hanoi Film Festival, followed by Somnath Gupta’s film Daaker Shaj.