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Royal thrills

From keeping his feet off snakes to running away from bees, actor Shaheb ‘Topshe’ Bhattacharya spent 20 hair-raising days in Dhenkanal Rajbari for Sandip Ray’s Royal Bengal Rahasya. t2 gets the lowdown.

Shooting at Dhenkanal Rajbari

The Rajbari is located on a hilltop in the middle of a jungle. The view from the Rajbari is amazing. The forest has elephants, deer and a few leopards. There’s a small waterbody just behind the Rajbari and I heard that’s the only waterbody in the forest, so all the animals come there!

Me, the prankster

We had great fun but all of it was after work. I was the youngest of the lot and we were totally cut off from civilisation. I had no contact with anyone, neither was my cell phone working. So to kill time I would play pranks on the seniors — Biplabjethu (Biplab Chatterjee) Debeshjethu (Debesh Roy Chowdhury) and Paranda (Paran Bandopadhyay) — but of course with Sandip sir’s permission.

One day while returning from the Rajbari to our hotel, I asked our driver to stop the jeep in the middle of the jungle and pretend that there’s a snag. Everyone freaked out!

Sequences we shot

We shot the interiors of Mohitosh Singha Roy’s Rajbari (played by B.D. Mukherjee). Mohitosh Singha Roy invites both Feluda and Lalmohanbabu to solve a riddle, which eventually leads to a treasure hunt.

Adventure on the sidelines

We were in Dhenkanal for 20 days and every day there used to be some adventure or the other. One night it rained very heavily and the next morning there were small snakes all over the place! There were snakes in the bathroom, balcony, backyard... just about everywhere. We were all scared but we had to shoot! The sequence was in the backyard of the Rajbari and just when we began shooting we spotted the dead skin of a huge snake. Bibhujethu (Bibhu Bhattacharya) freaked out! From then on he sat with his dhuti folded up to his knees! (Laughs.) Only during the shot did he lower his dhuti.

Then one morning I suddenly found people running around like crazy! I spotted Benukaku (Sabyasachi Chakrabarty) running too. When I asked him what had happened, he said: “Pala!” So I ran up to the third floor of the Rajbari without even knowing why I was running! Then I learnt that a beehive had been disturbed and the bees were chasing us. Some people had even been stung!

Being Topshe for the second time

It was the same as last time (Gorosthanay Sabdhaan) but this time I gave my inputs to Sandip sir and tried to do certain things on my own, like improvising on the expressions. After the positive feedback I got for Gorosthanay Sabdhaan, I am comfortable this time. In Royal Bengal Rahasya people will see a quieter Topshe because he observes more here. Everybody is trying to deceive everybody, so Topshe keeps an eye on everyone.

Action sequences in north Bengal

I am not supposed to reveal anything now but we are doing away with a few portions of the book, like killing a snake and shooting a tiger, as we don’t want to show violence against animals. The climax sequence has a tiger and we are told there’s a real snake in one of the sequences! Let’s see what Bibhujethu does with his dhuti then!

The next schedule

We have two days of shoot in Calcutta this week of May. Then we head for north Bengal. The climax will be shot in Bolpur.

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