Tota, Abir, Arindam and Jaya during the t2 chat. Pictures: Bhubaneswarananda Halder
Over tea and sandwiches at debutant director Arindam Sil’s farmhouse on Diamond Harbour Road, the Aborto main men — Tota Roy Chowdhury and Abir Chatterjee — chatted with t2 and Arindam, with leading lady Jaya Ahsan joining midway.
Abir and Tota, so you are Satyajit Ray’s Hari Bose and Shyamal in Aborto! How was that?
Tota: Not in my wildest dreams did I think of playing Shyamal (Barun Chanda had played Shyamalendu in Seemabaddha)! When I watch Ray films, I not only want to play the lead but also the peripheral characters.
Abir: Hari Bose (played by Samit Bhanja in Aranyer Din Ratri) is one of my favourite Ray characters. I found the references with Ray characters in Aborto very interesting. It’s my favourite character and I could also relive my second passion, which is cricket! But Aborto isn’t a retrospective of Ray characters.
Which other Ray character would you love to play?
Tota: I’m very tempted to play Feluda but look who’s sitting beside me! (Points at Abir. Shree Venkatesh Films has pitched Abir as the next Feluda) What’s left for me is Jatayu! I have been offered to play Prokhor Rudra (a detective in Jatayu’s novels) by a new director. Let’s see.
Abir: I have already played a character created by Ray — Ranjan in (Sandip Ray’s) Jekhane Bhooter Bhoy, so I’m happy.
Arindam, why did you choose Tota as Shyamal and Abir as Hari?
Arindam: See, Hari is a flamboyant cricketer and a womaniser. I chose Abir because in real life he’s just the opposite! He’s a good boy.... To cast Tota as Shyamal was very easy. Shyamal in Aborto is very focused. He knows exactly what he wants. So to play a character like Shyamal, my actor has to be very disciplined and Tota is the only disciplined actor in Calcutta. The strict lifestyle he follows is at times irritating! He carries his lunch box, never eats anything else on set and finishes his dinner before sunset! One day I had a scene to shoot just before sunset but Tota made me wait till he was done with his dinner.
Tota: (Laughs) Well, I am as disciplined as Shyamal but I’m not as ambitious as him. I was like Shyamal at one point of time but the difference is that Shyamal is fixed on his goal, while I enjoy the journey. Abir, did you identify with Hari?
Abir: Not the womaniser bit!
Tota: You must mention the female adulation you get in real life!
Abir: But I don’t react the way Hari reacts to female adulation. (Laughs) I don’t know if it’s my good luck or bad luck... but apart from my work, my life otherwise isn’t very colourful. But Hari’s life is colourful. He’s young, talented, rich and has a lot of female fans. He enjoys female company and takes advantage of it.
Don’t you enjoy female company?
Abir: Definitely! But I will never take advantage of it. I will never go out on a date with somebody else’s wife, which Hari does.
Tota: Seriously, the level of success Abir has got in such a short span... I have seen people with half his success lose their balance. We all know that success is short-lived but in case of Abir, success will be long-lasting because…
Arindam: He’s got his head on his shoulders.
Tota, Arindam is pitching Aborto as your comeback film...
Tota: See, this is a time where you have to constantly prove yourself and be in the limelight. My problem is, I’m a very private person. After Angshumaner Chhobi released (in 2009), an existential question crossed my mind: will I get good work after this? Because every three-four years, a new breed of actors and directors comes into the industry and they work with people they gel with. Maybe those directors would want to work with me but they see us in a different light. Maybe I would like to work as the protagonist while they may offer me a peripheral character. So I realised that if I don’t choose my work properly, I can’t play a long innings. I can play for three-four years tarpor bat gutiye pavilion-e chole jete hobey! But yes, after a long time people will see me in a meaty role in this film. This year is very important for me because I am also turning producer with Villain.
[Jaya joins the chat]
Jaya: Tota is completely like Shyamal. He also looks like him!
Tota, do you take that as a compliment? Isn’t Shyamal ruthless and unscrupulous?
Tota: Yes, to some extent. But thank you, Jaya, that you felt I am like the character.
Jaya: Shyamal is a very flesh-and-blood character. After watching the film, everyone will fall in love with Shyamal.
Arindam: Shyamal gets caught in the vortex of sex too!
Jaya: And Totada was so uncomfortable during the intimate scenes!
Tota: More than me, it’s Resshmi (Ghosh, who plays Shyamal’s secretary) who was uncomfortable! She was supposed to get married just two months after Aborto. We have a love-making scene.
Arindam: Both Tota and Resshmi told their spouses that most of the love-making scenes have been done by body doubles!
Tota: After watching the trailer, my wife (Sharmili) made a very serious face. I don’t know what will happen when she watches the film!
Arindam: There’s an extramarital hint too. I have explored it through Hari and Charu (played by Jaya).
Tota and Abir, there’s you both and one woman (Charu) in Aborto. If such a thing happened in real life, what would you do?
Tota: I will sing Dost dost na raha! (Laughs) On a serious note, I will beat the guy black and blue!
Abir: See, man-woman relationships don’t follow rules but I believe that one should always draw a line. Now that line can get blurred sometimes but if you trust yourself you will always remember it. Since we are a part of the glamour world, people want to know about our personal lives. Provocation will be there. I think it’s only natural to fall in love every day with various women but whether you want to continue with it and face the repercussions is something you have to decide.
What are your views on relationships outside marriage?
Tota: Well, I will never have one. Our profession is such that there will always be a liking for our co-stars. But as Abir said, I have to know where to stop.
Abir: Extramarital affairs are very common but it depends on how you want to see yourself. If the attraction to the other woman is too much, then you should put yourself at least once in your partner’s shoes. Today because of my profession I get to hug five different girls on screen but if my wife (Nandini) does that for real, I would have a major problem.
Arindam: I do what my heart says. I ended my first marriage after six-and-a-half years. It wasn’t working and I didn’t want to go on.
Aborto, produced by Globsyn Media Ventures, releases on March 1