Earlier in January 2020, when Dwityo Purush released in Kolkata theatres, there was an immense amount of hooting, and whistling when director Srijit Mukherji announced the name of Anirban Bhattacharya at the premiere of his film at a multiplex in Kolkata. A new superstar in the Bengali film industry was established, and we were expecting to see more of him. Hardly did we know that a major curse was about to befall on all of us in the year 2020.
The Byomesh actor did not do anything particularly spectacular during the lockdown period. “Well, I was home for three months. Then when the shooting began I went back to work. Nothing special or extraordinary as such,” he said during an exclusive conversation with International Business Times.
What made you sign up for Detective?
Bengali bibliophiles and cinephiles have a separate exposure to the term ‘detective’. We think of Byomkesh Bakshi, Feluda, but Mahim Chandra in Detective is a completely different character. Firstly, it was a character scripted by Rabindranath Tagore and it has an offbeat sense to itself. He is not an expert, but an apprentice at his job, someone who is yet-to-be a detective. Plus, I like playing comical characters, and I want to be a part of comedy based scripts.
Were you satisfied with your character?
There’s no parameter for satisfaction. Do you mean in terms of character or in terms of my performance? You see, I have been studying the character for the longest time, then when the team started writing the screenplay there were more detailed inputs. Now while playing the character whether or not I was satisfied that is a different topic, you see, after every film I always feel I could have done better. That option is always there.
In the film, your character is well-read, keeps himself updated with everything happening around. Didn’t you feel that somewhere he lacked sophistication despite possessing such good habits?
I didn’t get your question can you please repeat it?
No no. You see just because someone reads detective novels does not mean that they will be intelligent people. Just because my character reads a lot, reads the newspapers regularly, works as a detective, doesn’t mean that he is smart. When Mahim Chandra’s sister and wife refer to him, they call him a lunatic. You see, personality depends a lot on his childhood, how he associated with people, and everything else. Someone can be addicted to detective novels, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the person is intelligent.
In a few shots, you are dressed like Byomkesh but you behave like a different character. Did you feel awkward as an actor?
Oh, you felt so? Well no I don’t think like that. I mean, Bengali characters, back then had their choices. You see, Byomkesh is also a Bengali character, Mahim Chandra is also from Bengal. The tales of Byomkesh are set in the Independence era and even Mahim Chandra’s character is set around the time 1905. In that era, that’s what Bengali characters wore as casuals. I mean at least that was what used to be popular then, Dhoti and genji. And these characters both hail from the same geographical area, hence their attires are bound to be similar isn’t it. But their personality is different. Let’s say, even in today’s times, when we go out, you will find people in the same attires but that doesn’t mean that they all have the same personality. The character of a human being is not determined by his/her clothes.
Detective oscillates from patriotism to comedy. Do you think the audience will be able to absorb such a narrative?
I can’t really comment on what the Bengali audience can absorb or not absorb, that the feedbacks will decide. But I will agree with you, this kind of narrative doesnt usually happen. Either a film is a comedy and that structure is maintained or it is a complete patriotic film, and that remains its main line of communication. The director applied his own sense of creativity. This is your opinion about our film but I can’t really comment on that, can I? How can I reciprocate towards your opinion. You will write the review the way you like it. My job here was to perform and that I have done.
Will the direct release on OTT affect your brand? Your newfound stardom in Bengali film industry?
Na na na. I don’t think I have gained the superstar tag. Secondly, Amitabh Bachchan’s film is releasing on OTT platform instead of theatre, who am I compared to that.
Not a superstar? During the Dwityo Purush screening, you received the biggest cheer. These are the first steps to gaining stardom.
Tao bote. Thik ache. (That’s also there. Okay).