Parambrata and Parno at The Stadel’s resto bar Mirage. Pictures by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
“Oh my god, what a shockingly striking colour you are wearing!” exclaimed Parambrata Chattopadhyay as soon as Parno Mittra, in a tomato red dress, walked in for a t2 chat. “Shut up,” said Parno. “Look at you, you’ve come in shorts!” she giggled. The two then indulged in a mock fight before getting serious about their miyan-biwi film Ekla Akash (directed by Sandipan Roy, released on Friday).
Parambrata, according to Parno you were the ‘mastermoshai’ on the sets of Ekla Akash and she was really scared of you....
Parambrata: (Looks shocked) For some reason I noticed that Parno was really scared of me and I was a little surprised as to why! I asked her why.... Today, tell us why you were so scared...
Parno: I think probably because I was working with him for the first time and then there was a gap because he went to Bristol for his studies and we were not really in touch. (Param wears a bewildered look) I think probably because we were working for the first time, yes. So I was like ‘oh he is Parambrata Chattopadhyay and he is a mastermoshai’ (laughs out loud).
Param: (Grim) I thought she would say something nice, like Parambrata is a big name and all that!
Parno: The first day we were shooting and he said ‘Ei mathata bar bar narash na, baby baby lagchhe (don’t shake your head, you look like a baby)’!
Param: Yes, she looked like a baby because she is quite young, nah? And she plays a mom in the film! When Sandipan told me that Parno will play the mom of a seven-year-old daughter I was like what?! Parno!? The first day I went to the set and I saw a frail Parno, tak tak tak korey matha narchhe (shaking her head) and I told her you are looking like a little kid! So I told her try and bring in a little bit of age.
Parno: Yes, he did help me. But I think after coming back from Bristol, Param has become a little gombhir (serious)!
Param: Dhyat, it’s just the opposite. I am a more relaxed person now.
Parno: I thought you’d become more gombhir, baba!
Param: Achha, gombhir!
Parno: See, look at him (mimics how Param is sitting with arms folded)!
Param: So what am I supposed to do? Should I laugh all the time?
Parno, you were scared of Param and Param thought you were a kid and yet both of you play a couple in Ekla Akash. How did the chemistry happen?
Param: That wasn’t a big problem. In fact we have a few sequences which are very physical! I mean not in the sense of becoming conjugal but a lot of fights. During those fight scenes I used to be very tense as she is so petite and I was fatter then!
Parno: I was fat too!
Param: I used to wonder if I held her tight she would be finished!
Parno: There’s a scene where I storm into the room and hit him and I was like ‘oh shit, how am I going to hit him’. I was freaking out!
Param: She started slapping me hard!
Parno: Yes and he said ‘maar maar joto ichhe maar (keep on hitting me)!’ (Laughs) He is very sporting that way.
Param: See, there are a lot of things I did not agree with Sandipan about the film. Like I still feel this could not have been his first film because I have known Sandipan for quite a while. The kind of person he is I had thought he would make a different kind of film. Then there were certain things in the script which I thought could have been dealt with differently but there are two things which I really like.
One is the current between these two individuals — Arijit (Parambrata) and Nisha (Parno). That is very interesting in the sense that we never see them very much in love. There are bits and pieces of flashback from where we get to know how they got together but they are two warring heads. Somewhere there’s an underlying pull towards each other which gets them back together again and again. That I found very real because when a married couple ends their relationship, having shared the same house for a certain number of years, even after they get divorced or separated kothao ekta taan thaakey…
What did you like about the characters you played?
Parno: The reason why I chose to be a part of this film was because somebody offered me something totally different from what I have done before. So I thought it would be a challenge. I wasn’t sure about me fitting into it. I can’t look like a married woman. I am such a happy-go-lucky person. I am so different from Nisha. She is very mature which I am not; I’d like to be mature like her when I am married.
Param: Are you talking about mature or sheyana (cunning)?
Parno: Mature. Is Nisha sheyana?
Param: No. You are sheyana!
Parno: Why am I sheyana? You are sheyana!
Param: Every human being should be sheyana!
Parno: He is doing opomaan (insulting)!
Param: Okay, coming back to Ekla Akash, I’ve never played a father before. Many wouldn’t have agreed to play Arijit because they would lose out on their loverboy image.
Do you have a loverboy image?
Param: I don’t know. I am not really bothered or conscious of my image. I think I am more the thinking woman’s whatever. I always go by what new I am getting to do in a film. Arijit also has this streak of being a loser and that’s what I really liked because he is successful, has a cushy job, big car but somewhere he knows that in his attempt to achieve in life he has actually sacrificed quite a lot...
Parno: I don’t think so much. If I like something I just do it. I liked the film for very simple reasons. I thought somebody thought I could pull it off and I just gave it a shot.
Param: I think I like my work in this film. I judge my characters very objectively in every film and I like my work in this film.
Ekla Akash explores infidelity...
Param: See, I personally believe that human beings, by nature, are polygamous. And if infidelity didn’t exist then we couldn’t have made great cinema. So I quite like infidelity! We wouldn’t have had (Ingmar) Bergman or (Krzysztof) Kieslowski if there was no infidelity. So it is only natural. In Arijit’s case he goes in as a pawn. What he has with this other woman (Debleena Dutt) is not really a relationship. It kind of comes with the baggage of a top-notch job. I don’t think there’s any emotional quotient involved in the relationship. It’s only physical!
Parno, how did you look at Nisha’s relationship with her professor (Goutam Ghose)
Parno: See Nisha is this bored, lonely housewife and her professor comes back into her life and she realises she needs to do something in life. He is like a mentor and Nisha kind of emotionally relies on this person. There is an infatuation but it’s not a romantic relationship.
Param: I think it does border on it though.
Parno: There’s a fine line.
Param: I really liked Parno’s and Goutamda’s flashback scenes. Very cute. I have known people, both professors and students, who strike up a relationship.
Have you ever had a relationship with your professor?
Param and Parno: No, never.
Param: But now that Parno has called me a mastermoshai, so....! (Looks naughtily at Parno)
How do both of you look at relationships outside marriage?
Parno: I am not married so I have not thought about it. But I’m not cool about it. I am very conservative that way. If I have a boyfriend and if he has an affair with somebody else I will dump him.
Param: I don’t know whether I am cool or not. But it’s hurtful for both sides. I feel getting attracted or falling in love is such an act which you can’t really rationalise. Maybe you don’t consummate your attraction outside marriage but even thinking about that person is a kind of infidelity. It’s very instinctive. What can you do if it happens? If my partner does it I’m not going to say ‘you are a lousy woman’. I am going to try and accept it rationally because this is so ingrained in human nature…
Parno: I don’t like it, yaah! It has happened to me! It hurts your ego.... I am a very committed type. I don’t even look at other men when I’m in a relationship!