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Abir Chatterjee on Raktabeej: ‘I feel a story like this should be told repeatedly’

Abir Chatterjee stars in Nandita Roy and Shiboprosad Mukherjee’s Raktabeej with Victor Banerjee, Anashua Majumdar and Mimi Chakraborty

Soujannya Das Calcutta Published 21.10.23, 08:06 AM
Abir Chatterjee in Raktabeej

Abir Chatterjee in Raktabeej YouTube

Abir Chatterjee talks about the challenges and the charm of working in the mega Durga Puja release Raktabeej, directed by Nandita Roy and Shiboprosad Mukherjee.

You have had back-to-back releases from Fatafati to Biye Bibhrat and now Raktabeej. Do you think you have hit a purple patch?


Abir Chatterjee: Yes, I have. (Smiles the Abir smile) I am grateful to my producers and directors as they are giving me different characters. Like Fatafati and Raktabeej are from the same production house. From the angle of storytelling and narrative, both the films are completely two different genres. The character in Fatafati, Bachaspati, has no similarity with my character Pankaj Sinha in Raktabeej. The moment the makers entrust me with completely different characters, my responsibility goes up. As an actor you feel excited because you can experiment with your own craft, explore different things and break your own image. Biye Bibhrat was also a complete departure from the kind of films that I do. It was a romantic comedy. As an actor I look forward to more challenges like these.

What is it about Raktabeej that convinced you to say yes?

Abir Chatterjee: First of all the script. After a long time I got a script which I felt was near perfect. I actually didn’t want to change anything in the script. This is my first film with Shibu-da (Shiboprosad Mukherjee) and Nandita-di (Roy). I have worked with them as producer-actor; but as director-actor this is a tick on my checklist.

Raktabeej tells a story which is based on true events. A film like this is important to understand and confront the demons around us. To fight with them we need to inculcate the good things within us. But with time we have seen that people have fallen into the trap of hatred. At this moment I feel a story like Raktabeej should be told repeatedly.

You play the role of an IPS officer. What will the audience expect from Abir Chatterjee in Raktabeej?

Abir Chatterjee: Pankaj Sinha is a no-nonsense character. He is from Delhi. He heads a very efficient team. Pankaj and his team have an excellent record in solving mysteries and conspiracies. Whenever there is a risk of terrorist attack or something like that, Pankaj and his team are called in. This time one of the most important citizens of India, the President, is in West Bengal for his family Durga Puja, and the responsibility on Pankaj and his team to keep the President safe is immense.

In my personal capacity I can say that when I did Avrodh Season 2, I met some of these real-life heroes as I was playing a character based on such an officer. He introduced me to people who are from the intelligence and other such organisations. The kind of dedication and observation powers they have, and the sacrifices they make is extraordinary. They go through every possible danger to make our lives safe. The moment I’m playing a character based on a true hero, I need to be more responsible. If the respect of the audience goes up for the real-life heroes by watching me in Raktabeej, then that will definitely be a point of satisfaction.

How challenging was it to perform the action sequences?

Abir Chatterjee: It was challenging. This is a story based on true events. The kind of action and chase sequences we have in this film is very raw and close to reality. For Pankaj’s team and Sanjukta (played by Mimi Chakraborty), the margin of error is zero. They need to secure not only the President of India but also his family and thousands of people who assemble for Durga Puja.

I thank Manohar Varma who has designed the fight sequences in a way that was challenging and also exciting. We did suffer injuries but that happens while shooting tough scenes. Yes, the audience will see Abir Chatterjee in a different avatar in Raktabeej.

You have paired up with Mimi for the first time….

Abir Chatterjee: I have known Mimi since she was in college and was about to start her journey on television. I have seen her whole journey. I have seen her ups and downs. I have seen her becoming the superstar of Bengal. I have always felt proud of Mimi’s work and achievements. Beyond cinema, we share a unique relationship where we can trust each other with our deepest secrets. We go to each other for suggestions. Raktabeej was the right film for us to sign as both of us felt that the wait was worth it. And she remains as hard-working as ever.

Victor Banerjee told us, ‘Abir takes his job more seriously than he takes himself…’

Abir Chatterjee: (Laughs) Yes, the love and appreciation I have today is because of my work. So many people around the world know me because of my work. It is very rare for people to do what they love doing and earn a livelihood out of it. I’m quite passionate about cinema whether I’m a part of it or not. I think that the least I can do is be serious, hard-working and honest about my work.

What was it like working with Victor Banerjee?

Abir Chatterjee: Victor Banerjee is a superstar. He has quite an amazing range of work. He has been the hero in a Satyajit Ray film. He has played the main lead in top-notch Hollywood films. He has been part of immensely successful masala Bengali mainstream films. In India you don’t get actors who have this huge range of work. Raktabeej is kind of a comeback film for him. Even after achieving so much he has the hunger for good work. We never felt we were working with such a senior person. He was enjoying the process, adapting to changes, taking suggestions, and discussing with new actors and directors. It was a learning process. The kind of warmth that I felt in his company was quite overwhelming.

And working with Nandita Roy and Shiboprosad Mukherjee for the first time?

Abir Chatterjee: I have known them for a long time. They plan thoroughly as directors and they know their craft well. They know what they want from their actors. Nandita-di has an eye for detail and Shibu-da being a tremendous actor himself, knows the pulse of an actor. It was smooth as well as exciting to work with them.

What’s next after Raktabeej?

Abir Chatterjee: There are other films lined up. I’m trying to experiment with the subjects and characters I’m playing in different films.

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