Anirban Bhattacharya, a lesser known name in Mumbai is a master of theatre and films in Bengal. His web series Byomkesh recently got aired on HoiChoi originals.
Umesh Punwani of KoiMoi had a detailed conversation with Anirban Bhattacharya about Bengali culture, current scenario of Bollywood and his web series Byomkesh. Here are the excerpts:
Could you tell us something about your theatre & films journey in Kolkata?
I am connected with theatre practice since 14 years. I am from Midnapore, which is on the outskirts of Kolkata. I came to Kolkata from Midnapur in 2004. Did my Masters in Drama from Rabindra Bharati University. Did my first play in 2010 directed by Suman Mukhopadhyay which was titled as King Lear. I played the role of Edmund in that play. My professional career started from that play. Aparna Sen called me up in 2015 for her film Arshinagar, which againw as based on Shakespeare most loved work – Romeo & Juliet. My filmy career took off from there.
Your current web-series, Byomkesh, what it is about?
We have kept the original work of Byomkesh Bakshi by Shardindu Bandhopadhay intact. We have not done any major adaptations or changes in the plot. Minor changes are there in characterisations and treatment of the plot. We have clubbed two stories in a single episode. Same process in the second episode has been adapted. So as per the form of viewing we have kept the pace as we’ve seen in films. So many renowned actors have portrayed this character (Byomkesh) & if we would have gone the same path then we would have left the audience with nothing but boredom. To make people fall in love with this new Byomkesh, we had to follow a different path. Byomkesh’s story is based in 1930s, before Independence, so my target was to explore that time of Bengali society. I tried to bring gestures and architectural feel of Bengali society back then in my physique, diction and modulation. No doubt, many actors have performed a brilliant Byomkesh till now, but this area is still unexplored. Somehow I found that Bengalis of pre-independence have been smarter than us. They used to deal with British and sometimes fool them too (Laughs!). Today we are witnessing a compilation in our Bengali culture, we’re little American, little French. We wear jeans. have Pizzas and Burgers.
How many episodes of Byomkesh will be aired online and what will be the duration of each episode?
We have shot for 2 episodes in which 4 stories are clubbed together and will be aired on HoiChoi originals. We will shoot for 3rd and 4th episode in November. Each episode will be of 1 hour.
Have you never thought to come to Bollywood for a film or play?
The guys who went to Bollywood from Bengal, somewhere always had in their conscious to move to Mumbai for further work. But I don’t have any such target to move to Bollywood. But still if someone loves my work, I will definitely work in Bollywood after brushing my Hindi.
But there are some people who are in Bollywood despite of not knowing Hindi?
(Laughs!) But still for proper acting, knowing everything about the language is a must. So if someone calls me, i would love to come to Mumbai. I don’t have any reservation of not going to Mumbai because it rains heavily there (Laughs!).
You follow Bollywood, who are your current favourites?
The way Bollywood has been doing movies now, it is the bank of actors and actresses. There are every type of actors and actresses. There is one underrated name of Bollywood – Brijendra Kala. Apart from him there also are actors like Sanjay Mishra, Piyush Mishra, Rajat Kapoor, Rajit Kapoor. I am starting with these names because people like these are so powerful actors but have not been much in the limelight. Apart from these, Irrfan Khan, Rajkummar Rao and Nawazuddin Siddiqui have changed the entire scenario of Bollywood. Last but not the least, Amitabh Bachchan. We should learn from this megastar how to adapt oneself in situations. He is acting since decades but still if you watch him today on-screen, you’ll feel he is one film old.