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The Bengali Actor Everyone's Talking About

October 25, 2023 15:28 IST
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'In Raktobeej, I had a lot of physical action to do, so that was a new challenge.'
'We didn't want the action scenes to be over-the-top.'
'We wanted to make the action raw and real.'

Photograph: Kind courtesy Abir Chatterjee/Instagram

Bengali actor Abir Chatterjee is enjoying the stage at which his career is now.

After Fatafati, his new film Raktobeej is doing well too.

He tells Subhash K Jha, "When you get such responsibilities, you are challenged as an actor to get into the skin of the characters. Even the audience loves me in different avatars."

Raktobeej comes close to Fatafati and Biye Bibhrat. How do you manage to do so many films convincingly?

I enjoy this.

When film-makers give you different characters to play, it is like they are entrusting you with a big responsibility.

As an actor, I enjoy the challenge of playing different characters.

The first two were shot last year while Raktobeej was shot this year.

Fatafati and Raktobeej are from the same production house. It is reassuring to see the same creators have so much faith in you.

When you get such responsibilities, you are challenged as an actor to get into the skin of the characters. Even the audience loves me in different avatars.

IMAGE: Abir Chatterjee in Raktobeej.

How challenging was it for you to play Pankaj Sinha? How did you prepare for the part?

In Raktobeej, I had a lot of physical action to do, so that was a new challenge.

We didn't want the action scenes to be over-the-top.

We wanted to make the action raw and real.

My character Pankaj Sinha knows how to control himself and not go overboard with his heroics.

It is poojo time in the film. The honourable President Of India has to be protected. The margin of error is zero. There's a stealthy determination in my character's heroics.

IMAGE: Abir Chatterjee with Parambrata Chatterjee in Biye Bibhrat.

What was it like working with Victor Banerjee in Raktobeej?

Victorda is a real charmer.

I call him the Prince, the handsome young man.

When I met him, he said he had heard a lot about me.

He then said he had a complaint: I was playing the cop and he, the President Of India.

But he said he wanted to play the cop.

I told him, 'Sir, you can easily play the cop, but I can never play the President of India.'

That's how we broke the ice.

As we shot, I realised how and why he has such an exciting career.

He has played the hero for Satyajit Ray. He has done mainstream Hollywood and Bengali films. This is so rare.

Even after so much, he is hungry for new challenges.

I could see on the sets how well he got along with the younger cast and crew.

I realised the bigger the star, the lower the level of tantrums.

I'd have loved sitting and talking with him, but we got no opportunity during shooting. But now, I definitely intend to spend time with him.

Who are your favourite actors?

Oh, that's a long list. I've always been a great fan of Amitabh Bachchan.

I consider Uttam Kumar to be the guru. With age, I realise how big a superstar he was.

I like Akshaye Khanna. I miss him on screen. He is a very underutiliz=sed actor.

I love the way Shah Rukh made his comeback. His films are a movement.

In Hollywood, I love Russell Crowe and Matt Damon.

IMAGE: Abir Chatterjee with Ritabhari Chakraborty in Fatafati.

Any plans of direction?

No. But I would like to broaden my horizons. I am emotionally ready to direct, but not technically.

Your forthcoming projects?

I have a film called Deep Freeze directed by Arjun Dutta coming up. It has been selected for the IFFI in Goa.

Then there is Badami Hyener Kobole, which is based on a well-known work of pulp fiction. It will release in November.

There's Rabindranath Tagore's Kabuliwala where Mithunda plays the main character. I have an extended cameo. It will be released during Christmas.

Putul Nacher Itikotha, based on the classic novel by Manik Bandhopadhyay, had got stuck. It is now complete. We will send it to different festivals before planning a release.

Is it true your first film is traceless?

No, not really. Wikipedia says my first film Robibar Bikelbela is lost, but I was an amateur at that time.

I consider Cross Connection in 2009 to be my real debut. It is not available anywhere. I am trying to get it released on OTT.

Cross Connection gives Dil Chahta Hai vibes.

How do you look at the place the Bangla film industry now stands? Where do you see yourself fitting in?

We have miles to go.

There is a lot of hard work ahead.

Yes, films are becoming successful, but we need to go much further.

We need to extend our creative spectrum. Especially after COVID, people are consuming content from all over the world. We need to pull up our socks.

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