How did you convince Soumitra Chatterjee to play the lead in Rupkatha Noy?
He liked the script and was thoroughly convinced with the plot and his character. At a press conference, he said he had been waiting 15-20 years for such a role, which demanded a quiet and spontaneous acting form.
You’ve made quite a few telefilms with him earlier. Over the years, what changes have you noticed in him?
Soumitrakaku is more experimental now. In Rupkatha Noy, he juggles the pace of dialogue delivery, makes rapid change of expressions, throws up surprises for the audience more often and relies on a more subtle physical movement. I think he is going through the most mature phase of his acting career.
Were you inspired by a real-life experience while penning the script for Rupkatha Noy?
One late afternoon, walking past Vivekananda Park, I saw a young woman talking quite impatiently to an old man. Somehow I felt she was in some deep crisis, narrating her tale to an absolute stranger. Today, we do not have time or inclination to listen to people outside the periphery of our family and close friends. These people, who do not have any ear to hear them out, often become overburdened with pent-up emotions like fear, anger, insecurity and frustration. I was interested to explore how an old man (Soumitra Chatterjee) can make these people come to terms with their crisis and in turn make them go through a journey of self-realisation and try to imbue in them a new perception of life.
Tell us about who plays what in the film...
Soumitrakaku plays the 74-year-old protagonist who regularly goes to a park to listen to strangers. Radhika Apte is a single mother who has a dreadful past, which keeps haunting her. Sohini Sarkar plays a newly-married girl who repeatedly flees her in-laws’ place. Gaurav Chakrabarty plays her husband. Koushik Sen is a teacher of calculus, desperately in search of a thrill. Rahul is a roadside typist and Nina Chakrabarty is a petrol-pump girl. The supporting cast includes Bhaskar Banerjee, Mithu Chakrabarty, Arindam Sil and Indraneil Sengupta, among others.
Radhika Apte has done only Antaheen in Bengali. What prompted you to cast her?
While casting, I rely mostly on the demands of a character. The character Radhika plays in Rupkatha Noy has a dreaded past and it unsettles her present. It demanded an actress with a strong personality, wide range of expressions and a pair of eyes, profound and intense. I thought Radhika was just right for the role and I liked her performance in Rakta Charitra. In Rupkatha Noy, she is Sananda and her features perfectly fit in with the image of a Bengali girl.
You hardly attend premieres. Do you watch contemporary Bengali films?
I usually attend when I am invited, but I am not regularly invited. I am rarely present in any filmi gathering. I am quite shy and introvert. I was never a party animal and saying no to parties for years has now turned into a habit! So I am connected with very few people. It does affect my career because it takes longer for me to get a producer for my film. [Rupkatha Noy is jointly produced by Arindam Sil’s Nothing Beyond Cinema and Firdausul Hasan’s Friends Communication] Also, I am not a media darling. The most sought-after stars are not very keen to work with me. However, some gifted actors are interested. And that’s the way I am and will be.
A recent film you watched and loved?
Shabdo and Kangal Malsat. Shabdo for novelty of concept and Kangal Malsat for its remarkable variation of form.
Of the three films you’ve made, which is closest to your heart?
That’s a really difficult one! I think the last one always bags the soft corner. But on a photo-finish scale, I would say Takhan Teish is the one to which I can fondly relate to in many ways.
When is Ek Phaali Rod releasing?
It was held up due to some production problems. But now everything is sorted out. It has been censored and is ready for release this winter.
Have you planned your next film?
Yes, I have two ready scripts. One is a comedy on time-travel and the other is a deep and sensitive tale of a love-child.