Om and Sabyasachi Chakrabarty in College Street Coffee House. Pictures: Pabitra Das
Inside a crowded College Street Coffee House, Om is busy polishing off a plate of Moglai Parota as Sabyasachi Chakrabarty ribs: ‘Don’t end up being a Moghul samrat!’ A t2 chat with the young sleuth Arjun and his mentor Amol Som in the T. Sarkar production Arjun, which released on Friday.
Om, how is it having coffee and Moglai Parota with your mentor Amol Som in Coffee House?
Om: I had never imagined this... that I could share screen space with Benuda (Sabyasachi) is like a dream come true. Arjun and Amol Som having coffee at their creator’s (Samaresh Majumdar) den (College Street Coffee House) is really something!
Sabyasachi: And this is your first time in Coffee House! Say something about that.
O: Indeed it’s a matter of shame that being a Bengali I’ve never had the opportunity to visit Coffee House. Benuda told me that the place has changed a lot.
S: Yes, the ambience has changed. Though the hullabaloo is the same, the coffee quality is the same... the walls, fittings, fans have changed. Earlier there used to be men in trousers and panjabi, now it’s all jeans and shirts. I don’t see the jholas. I used to come here with my elder brother. I was very young then.... Amol Som and Arjun are both from Jalpaiguri, so we are really enjoying the Coffee House (smiles)!
Sabyasachida, did you have any acting tips for Om, who plays a sleuth for the first time?
S: All instructions were given to him by the director (Prem Modi). I just told him to build his confidence a little more.
O: I was nervous in the beginning but after a few discussions with Benuda I was confident.
S: I told him not to hesitate and to just do it. But I never gave him any acting tips.
Om, did you go to Sabyasachida for advice?
O: We had a lot of discussions on the film and how I should approach my character Arjun. The workshops with Sohag Sen really helped. For the first few days I was very stiff in the scenes with Benuda. But gradually he made me feel very easy.
Sabyasachida, do you think your character Amol Som will become an enduring screen detective like Feluda?
S: No, Amol Som can never reach where Feluda has because of various reasons. The first being that Satyajit Ray had written Feluda long ago and it already has a literary popularity. Even Bomkesh Bakshi has not been able to match Felu’s popularity. Satyajit Ray’s Chiriyakhana (based on Sharadindu Bandopadhyay’s story) didn’t become as popular as his Feluda films. Felu resides in the hearts of the Bengalis. For the younger generation, too, Feluda is an iconic figure. It will take Amol Som a lot of time to reach that kind of popularity. People have already been exposed to a lot of detective characters. Besides, Arjun isn’t really a detective. He is an adventurer like Kakababu. Amol Som is a detective and Arjun assists him. Arjun has a knack for adventure and Amol Som spots that in him and gives him work. I really enjoyed playing Amol Som because age-wise I am closer to him.
Om, did Amol Som ever remind you of Feluda while shooting?
S: That I think was pre-empted the moment they gave glasses to my character.
O: Yes, I think he too realised that and kept changing his body language and acting style. But I think Arjun will carve a niche for himself.
S: Arjun is junior to Felu and Bomkesh. And Amol Som is elder to Feluda, so the mannerisms had to be different.
Sabyasachida, you are a veteran when it comes to playing a sleuth on screen. Have you ever solved a real-life case?
S: (Laughs) Never! There was a theft at my home and I had no clue about it. Later when the cops came in, they said, ‘Dekhechhen toh, cinemay joto easy mone hoy totota noy!’ (Now you see it’s not as easy as it seems on screen’)