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‘You can create magic even in a two-minute scene’

Says Paoli Dam, one of the most succcessful actresses in Bengali cinema today. Yet she has her head firmly on her shoulder

Mumbai |
Updated: August 22, 2014 1:00:58 am
Paoli Dam Paoli Dam

By Shoma A. Chatterji

How do you define ‘acting?’

It is not easy to define ‘acting’ because I am still going through a difficult learning process of becoming an actress. Acting, to me, is behaving. It is observing life as you see it and expressing it the way the director wants you to. The final outcome depends on the degree of freedom the director gives you to express yourself. Actors should be like water that moulds itself to the shape of the vessel it is poured into. I am a combination of a director’s actress and a natural actress and am always trying to balance the two.

What do you look out for when you are accepting an assignment?

My focus is on the script, the director and my character. The length of the role does not matter. I believe that a good actor can create magic even within two minutes. It all depends on and is determined by how much depth you can put into that two-minute scene and how well you can express that depth so that it reaches your audience.

Is Hercules the first film where you have been directed by Sudeshna Roy and Abhijit Guha.

My first film was Teen Yari Katha which also marked their directorial debut but I had just one scene without any dialogue so you cannot even call it a role. Apart from being brilliant directors, they are very good human beings. I share a very good rapport with them and I count them among the few directors who have always given opportunities to new people both actors and technicians.

Hercules is a hero-centric story, so what is your role in it?

I play Minu, a girl from the lower-middle-class , who is the sole earning member of her family. She runs a small telephone booth. Hercules (Parambrata Chatterjee) or Haru, who lives close to the booth, loves Minu but he is too timid to express his feelings to her. She too has a strong liking for Haru but she wants him to behave boldly, like a man. Minu is practical, grounded and is not driven by emotions. In a manner of speaking, Minu is the catalytic agent in the journey Haru takes to become Hercules.

You are working in a whole bunch of films. What are they all about?

There is Debesh Chattopadhyay’s Natoker Moto (Like a Play) which is a fictional biopic of a famous actress of the Bengali stage during the 1970s whose name I am not permitted to disclose now. This role made me go through the plays the actress had acted in, bits and pieces of which are interwoven into the main film. It is a classic range from Noti Binodini through Teen Poyshar Pala, to Antigone. We had script sessions, discussions with the director, several look tests so that I could have a basic understanding of the character before giving it the shape the director desired.
Besides this, there is Anjan Das’ Ajana Batash awaiting release. I play Deepa who is not able to communicate verbally with anyone. It is tinged with Das’ beautiful lyricism and poetic treatment that defines a very different canvas. Prime Time is a thriller where I play a glamorous journalist. Swarup Ghosh’s Tobuo Aparichito (Still a Stranger) is a romcom in which Prateik Babbar makes his Bengali debut. In Sanjoy Nag’s Parapar, I play a rape victim and I am also doing Mainak Bhowmik’s Family Album. Sourav Chakraborty’s Arani Takhan is a love story set against the background of communal riots.

What about Bollywood projects?

I am playing the female lead opposite Parambrata Chatterjee in Subhash Saigal’s love story, Yara Sili Sili. I love Mumbai as Vikram Bhatt treated me like a princess. Mumbai is magnetic and there is a lot of discipline and work ethic that people follow. The work culture is different from Kolkata. The effort an actor has to put in is the same in both Mumbai and Kolkata but the infra-structure and the glamour quotient are different.

Words like ‘hot’, ‘sexy’ and ‘bold’ have become natural prefixes to your name. Comment.

I take them as a compliment because they prove that I am a familiar face, figure and actress within my world. I am in august company -Marilyn Monroe, Angelina Jolie, Sharon Stone, the works. However, it also depends on how a scene is picturised that can make an actress look extremely sensual and sexy. For example, Smita Patil in the rain song Aaj rapart jaaye to hame naa uthaiyo from Namak Halal. But let me add that though I consider Smita Patil and Zeenat Aman as icons, I would like to be remembered as Paoli Dam.


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