Actor Anirban Bhattacharya brings depth to every character that he portrays. He has already won hearts and earned acclaim with his versatility. When t2 caught up with him on a Sunday afternoon ahead of the release of his film Dracula Sir, directed by Debaloy Bhattacharya, the actor said in a mellow tone, “But sometimes I feel like acting in less dark, less complicated characters. I have not got a role like that yet, but if I ever get I would love to explore that.” A t2 chat...
In the trailer of Dracula Sir (the film releases today in theatres), we see you as a revolutionary from the 1970s, then as a teacher with a set of canine... you are also seeking revenge and there are flashes of the past. How did you set apart each role and prepare for them?
The journey between 1970 and 2020, we can say that there is a connection of collective memory. It is done very cinematically. So it is difficult to explain in words. I have worked in script-oriented films where the character is predefined but Debaloyda’s process is quite different from all that. As a director he is very instinctive.
Suave and stifling! This blue cosy linen kurta with zipper detailing is paired with a tribal-printed thin layered jacket for a touch of festive glam, off-white linen pants and a pair of shoes from Abhishek Dutta’s limited-edition collection. Pabitra Das
We see you running down flyovers at night. How did you shoot those scenes?
Yes, for 70 per cent of this film, we had a night schedule.
Since we shot on a flyover, we chose to do it at the dead of the night. But it was nice shooting in Calcutta at midnight as the whole city changes, even though it is not the first time that I am experiencing this for a shoot. I ran on Maa flyover during the day for the shoot of Shah Jahan Regency and at night for Dracula Sir. So, running on the flyover has a connection with my career! (Laughs)
What is the story of Dracula Sir?
The story is about a quest for love... and it is a tale of a lonely man. His only companion is his memory.
‘Minimalism’ is the contemporary cool. Anirban shows how to keep it cool and casual in this bright red single-layered bomber jacket with a quirky dinosaur print, and knitted collar and cuffs. The blue linen denim with a tri-colour tape detailing completes the look. Pabitra Das
What was your first thought when this script was offered to you?
I understood that it is a good role and if I can do this well then I will have a good character to my credit. Initially, I couldn’t figure out how to go about it. I had to push myself. It’s like, after a certain point in our careers, we need to upgrade ourselves. If I stay the same actor throughout, that isn’t very good. So, Dracula Sir gave me that opportunity to upgrade myself as an actor. But there was a tension at the beginning. I was thinking whether I would be able to do it at all. I have tried hard.
You stayed immersed in ice-cold water in a tank for hours in winter for a sequence. How were you feeling after that shot got over? Does such physically demanding roles that may affect your health worry you?
Firstly, after doing the shot, I was thinking that I will step out, cover myself up with a warm blanket and go to my make-up van and have a cup of hot tea or coffee. These are all part of an actor’s profession. We have to do this often. There’s nothing to glorify this in particular. It is true that while doing it, it hurts. But that’s an actor’s job. It requires the involvement of the body, mind, expression, intelligence... everything. Finally if the director’s vision comes out well and is implemented correctly then it also feels good. Maybe for a month I will be sick but then the audience gets to see the director’s vision on screen.
How do you deal with emotionally draining scenes?
Yes, it definitely affects. An actor is his or her own bank. So he or she has to take things from his/her mind, brain and heart little by little in order to perform. In case of Dracula Sir it was my reading of Swapan Kumar and his detective stories in Bengali that helped me to some extent in my understanding of this role.
Traditional and classy with a contemporary touch, the linen bundi with a bold tone-on-tone print is worn stylishly by layering one flap of the tribal-printed angrakha cotton kurta over the bundi. The kurta with an asymmetrical hemline is paired with a pair of off white linen pants. Pabitra Das
What interested you about this genre?
This is a thriller based on love. This is not a horror thriller. We associate Dracula with horror, but here the motive of Dracula emerges out of pain.
What was the most challenging aspect of the shoot or the character?
I think expressing the diversity was quite difficult. On the same day we were shooting seven to eight scenes. The diversity that this film demanded... expressing that within that shooting schedule was challenging. I had to push myself to the edge.
Anirban in Dracula Sir, which releases today in theatres Pabitra Das
In the past five years we have seen you in diverse roles. How do you select your roles ?
While selecting I remember that my career started like that. I got a different role in every film. I am also very thankful to my directors that they have given me different roles every time. I am specially thankful to Srijit Mukherji. He took me in six of his films in six different roles. So somewhere Srijitda has a contribution to my image of a versatile actor. Arindamda (Sil) also gave me such roles. Now, I have such an image that I act in versatile roles and in case of character selection I don’t remain static. So I think my audience also loves me for that. But there is a weight in maintaining this.
What has been the most challenging role in your career so far?
There is not one. There are some, characters like Dhananjoy (Dhananjoy), Nikhilesh (Ghawre Bairey Aaj), Satya Banerjee (Ek Je Chhilo Raja) and Dracula Sir.
As an actor what is more important to you — critical acclaim or audience appreciation?
It is difficult to say. Actually both. But before anyone else, I need to feel satisfied. First it is a test to myself, I don’t want to feel that I did not put in my best. And then comes critical acclaim and audience.