Abir the romantic

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By Abir Chatterjee on hrid majharey and love stories
  • Published 8.07.14
Abir at Only Alibaba Gold, opposite Quest mall. Picture: Anindya Shankar Ray

You have such a huge female fan following (starting with the t2 girl gang). Why don’t we see you in more love stories?

I think I am now compensating for not doing more love stories in the past (grins). My last two films (Jodi Love Dile Na Prane and Poriksha in Sandip Ray’s Chaar) were love stories, and Ranjan Ghosh’s Hrid Majharey (produced by Ayaan Priyanshi Films; releases on July 11) is the third one. I like doing love stories, but candyfloss films aamar poshay na! And it’s really tough to make a simple love story. Often we tend to intellectualise it but then we haven’t seen too many shoja-shapta love stories, both in Bollywood and Tollywood, in the last 10 years. Either they go overboard or become repetitive or portray the same extramarital affair or become too serious with a lot of chaapa tension. You don’t get to see a straightforward love story like Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin or Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. Our love stories get too complicated. Thankfully there’s no extra-marital affair or repressed sexual tension in Hrid Majharey (grins). This film is a welcome change.

We have seen you opposite Payel (Bojhena Shey Bojhena), Koel (Prem By Chance, Chaar), Swastika (Ashbo Aar Ek Din), Paoli (Bedroom), Ananya (Jodi Love Dile Na Prane) and Raima (22shey Srabon, Hrid Majharey and Abby Sen next). Who do you think you look best with?

Everyone is so beautiful, how can I comment on this (smiles)?! Also, the audience hasn’t really seen me with the actresses you mentioned in many films. So maybe they haven’t also arrived at a decision yet (grins). Which I feel has worked in my favour… I’ve got the chance to work with all of them (smiles)! And I don’t really believe in this juti concept but then I admit a kind of chemistry develops between a certain pair of actors, like a Shah Rukh-Kajol. Ranjan first saw Raima and me together in 22shey Srabon and he felt we would look good as a pair. It’s a passionate love story and our characters (Abhijit and Debjani) are madly in love with each other.

So how did the two of you go about doing the intimate scenes?

Before shooting began, Ranjan said a lot, told us to be shahoshi (for the intimate scenes). So we were mentally prepared but then Ranjan became very conservative during the shoot. Then again for one scene, Ranjan wasn’t even saying ‘cut’! So we decided to draw the line somewhere (grins)! But when it comes to doing intimate scenes with Raima, it’s really chaap-er. She makes a face as if she is playing table tennis (grins). Or just when you are ready to do the scene and concentrating hard, she’ll say something irrelevant and throw you off completely. So you start wondering why did she say this. She can be quite unpredictable. Raima Sen is unpredictable.

Do you feel uncomfortable doing intimate scenes?

Not uncomfortable, but awkward. It all depends on how my director is shooting it. But then Ranjan himself didn’t know how far we would go with the level of intimacy (laughs). Suddenly, he became really possessive about Raima. But then if I have to do an intimate scene with Raima, then I don’t feel awkward. I am prepared since anything can happen! She can completely turn the scene on its head.

Is Raima a prankster on set?

(Laughs) She might take your trip but she is very thorough (as an actor), always comes prepared on the sets. And Raima’s filmography is so enviable! No one has a filmography like her. She has no hang-ups, so it’s really great hanging out with her.

Abir and Raima in Hrid Majharey

You are playing a math teacher in this film. Are you good in maths?

That’s something I had also asked Ranjan — “from which angle do I look like a math teacher?” It is something to be proud of as well as something that’s really scary since it is about maths! I liked economics, was a student of accountancy, but I was not interested in maths. And in the beginning of the film Abhijit is really confident… he is writing a book, and is shown teaching in class. So I had to get the body language going. And I read up a lot on Wikipedia.

We heard there was a lot of drama and arguments on set?!

Arguments, counter-arguments, jhogra jhati hoyechhe prochur during the shoot. But then looking back, I think, we have grown. For example, Ranjan had designed a scene in such a way that a truck comes and screeches to a halt just next to me (in the Andamans). I told Ranjan that if the truck hits me then I wouldn’t reach Calcutta. But then Ranjan was like, ‘No, let’s do the scene!’ I told Ranjan that I love films but I value life more! We did the scene, and when Ranjan checked the monitor, he was like, ‘It’s not looking real!’ I just looked at him, told him to get someone else to do the scene, walked off in a huff and got into my car (laughs). Yes, there were disagreements but then that’s how you learn on the job. I guess we were really attached to the film. We were passionate people working together.

You have worked with Sandip Ray, Anjan Dutt and Raj Chakraborty. Why agree to work with a first-time director?

I feel young directors work with a lot of passion. They are really energetic and have a desire to make a mark. They are full of ideas and I can connect with them. I was convinced by Ranjan’s conviction. He didn’t want to compromise. And he had told me that he wouldn’t make the film unless I agreed to do it. He didn’t take the safe path. I know how tough it is to do your first film.

The films of first-time filmmakers have this odbhut ambience, which gets me going. And we need young blood in the industry.

And once I agree to do a film, it becomes my project too. I feel I am becoming possessive about my films since I am more attached to them. And I feel anger towards those who don’t watch Bengali films. Aage abhimaan hoto, ekhon raag hoy.

Would you do a potboiler?

I won’t fit into a full-on potboiler. I’m comfortable doing middle-of-the-road films. Don’t think dancing around trees ta aamar dara hobe!

Abir’s message to t2 readers

Please watch Hrid Majharey. Spread the word. Ask your friends to watch it. t2 readers have been very sweet to me, and whenever I see your letters in t2, I get very emotional.

Abir’s fave romantic films

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge
Dil Hai Ke Manta Nahin
The Bridges of Madison County
Cinema Paradiso
Shuno Baranari

Arindam Chatterjee