As Tarak, the protagonist in Shabdo
Who is Tarak: Tarak is a foley artiste who creates ambience sounds in films, like the sounds of water, paper, footsteps... and all kinds of sounds you listen to in cinema. A foley artiste creates these sounds sitting in the studio at night. Would you believe that a foley artiste wears just his underwear when working so that his clothes don’t make any noise?! In case of Tarak, the ambience sound becomes his obsession and that disturbs his family life, his relationship with his wife. Sound almost becomes the other woman in his life, it’s almost like an extramarital affair... and he seeks psychiatric treatment.... We don’t listen films, you know, we are concerned only about the storytelling, about seeing a film. But a film is as much about listening as about watching. You have to listen to Shabdo and then see it!
Why he chose Ritwick: I had thought of casting Rudra (Rudranil Ghosh) or Kanchan (Mallick) as Tarak. But both are very familiar faces. I wanted a very good actor who despite being a familiar face could become the character... as in people will see him only as Tarak, not as an actor playing Tarak.
Churni suggested Ritwick’s name. It’s really difficult to cast an actor like Ritwick in Bengali films because it’s difficult to convince your producer. But after watching him act, I can say that he is one of the top three actors in Tollywood. Of course, I can’t name the other two! (Laughs) Ritwick has a small-town-boy face, a certain innocence. He’s so effortless as Tarak. Tarak goes through a difficult phase in the film and Ritwick has really surprised me in those parts. Henceforth, whenever I write a script I will have a role for Ritwick!
As Tarak’s wife Ratna
Who is Ratna: She’s a lower-middle class housewife in a north Calcutta household. For Ratna to understand Tarak’s obsession with sound is very difficult. She is mostly in disbelief as her husband slowly drifts away from her. She becomes lonely and she tries to figure out how to combat the crisis. She becomes obsessed with her husband. So, Shabdo is also about obsessions people have.
Why he chose Raima: Raima is like magic! She is that rare musical instrument which depends on how well the musician can play it. You have to take care of her, nurture her and she can be absolutely brilliant. If you tune her with care, she can be outstanding. I have a lot of faith in Raima the actress. She is so expressive and has performed so well in Shabdo. People will see a new Raima Sen in Shabdo. I had worked with her earlier in Aarekti Premer Galpo. She has very expressive eyes.
As psychiatrist Sathi
Who is Sathi: Tarak comes to her for treatment. For her it’s a very different kind of problem and so she takes time for Tarak’s treatment. She reads up a lot and tries to crack the disease. Over a period of time, she too gets obsessed with Tarak. So, every character in the film, after a point, starts entering their obsession zone. Sathi gets involved with Tarak and his family. Tarak becomes a special case for her. She bonds with Tarak in a strange way... it’s not love, it’s a strange relationship...
Why he chose Churni: I had loved her work in Aarekti Premer Galpo. But of all the films I’ve worked with Churni, she is best in Shabdo! The body language that was required fits Churni. Most of her dialogues are in English and so Churni was my obvious choice.
As sound engineer Dibyendu
Who is Dibyendu: He is my Potla (sound designer Anirban Sengupta)!
Why he chose Srijit: His looks go with the character. There’s a strange tiredness in Srijit’s look and the way he talks was needed for the character. Dibyendu’s job needs him to stay up late at night. Besides, Srijit is familiar with sound recording equipment, which is necessary for the character.
As a doctor
It’s a cameo and all I can say is that nobody else could have played the doctor except me. And why do I say this? Well, for that you’ll have to watch Shabdo!
As Sathi’s professor Dr Sen
Who is Dr Sen: He helps Sathi in Tarak’s case. There’s an interesting drama between the two. But he is obsessed with himself. He thinks he’s the best.
Why he chose Victor: His diction and his looks fit the bill.