Anirban Bhattacharya loves to read. In fact, he likes to go through stories that he has already read. “I love reading and re-reading stories. I am thinking of starting with Mahabharata once again. I took out the copy of Rajshekhar Basu’s Mahabharata from my bookshelf. I want to read that with more focus,” smiles Anirban on a Sunday evening. A candid chat...
What’s a Sunday in your life like now?
It is like any other day of the week. On other days we are staying at home, on Sunday also we are doing the same. Things I do on a Sunday, I get to do that on any other day too. During a lockdown, there is no difference between a Sunday and a weekday.
What’s the last web show or film you watched that really moved you or had an impact on you?
I really liked Hoichoi’s Mohanagar. I liked Sherni a lot too but not as much as the director’s other film Newton.
You are set to shoot for a new Byomkesh series soon.
This time it will be based on Chorabali. Chorabali is the best Byomkesh story according to me. Many people consider Pother Kanta or Durgo Rahasya as the best one. But for me, Chorabali is the best story. There is of course an excitement to shoot that. Actually, the shoot of this story was supposed to happen a few years ago but that did not happen due to many reasons and finally, it is happening. This is for the first time the Byomkesh team is going for an outdoor shoot too. Taking everything into consideration, it is really very exciting.
When did you read Chorabali first? Did you revisit it for the shoot?
I read it many years ago while in school and of course I revisited it when I came to know about the shoot. Whenever we think of working on a story, we usually revisit the literary work. I had read it as a reader earlier but now I am reading it with an actor’s interest. I see whether I can get any new element or not that I can replicate in my acting.
What are your favourite memories from a Byomkesh shoot?
I remember the shoot of Hoichoi’s first season of Byomkesh, I had a 103-degree fever just the day before the shoot. I took a medicine at night... but was anxious... the next day the fever was gone and I could do the shooting properly. The schedule was also very busy. We had to shoot in a lot of places around the city, but I still remember that first day of that shoot.
You did a photo shoot recently sporting a French cut beard. How was the shoot? Why the new look?
I am staying at home and didn’t have any work or shoot, so my beard started growing and I was experimenting by grooming it in different ways. I did that during the first lockdown too. One of my friends suggested that I should keep this look and do a photo shoot with this look. So, I kept it like that. I enjoyed the shoot and liked the look too. I had not done a photo shoot with a beard or moustache before. Everyone is used to seeing me clean-shaven so it is nice that people got to see me in a new look.
Are you becoming fashion-conscious in your personal life too?
No, I explore fashion only in photo shoots. I wear what they give me. But that has no reflection on my attire or look in my personal life. Now my dress sense has got better.
We had heard that you are acting in a film with Rani Mukerji. How are you preparing for that? When do you start shooting?
No, I am not doing any film with her. I won’t be able to say anything regarding this. As far as I know, I am not doing any film like this.
You are a private person. How tough is it to maintain privacy when you are always in the limelight?
It is nothing. I never had a great social media exposure. I don’t do Insta reels, tweets or give status updates that often. I never did it and don’t do it now also. So, there is a thing about how it works. The more someone remains involved in it the more they have to worry about dealing with their privacy and how they will manage to secure their private life but for me, it is not that difficult since I am not so exposed to social media, and during the pandemic, it reduced further. So, it is not that I have to work a lot to maintain my privacy. People keep an interest in those who are more visible and have more activities on social media, but it is not like that for me. I prefer fewer activities in the virtual world.
Last year you were listening to programmes on the radio. Is that on? Are you listening to something new?
(Laughs) It feels good that you reminded me of that. That has reduced a lot. I do listen to music though. Last year, it became a habit. A lot of friends suggest new musicians to me, I listen to them. I am listening a lot to Kalhor (Kayhan Kalhor) nowadays. I was also listening to Caribbean music recently. I keep listening to new kinds of music but it is not that I am very consistent about it or very inconsistent. Regarding reading, watching something or listening, I am very repetitive. I like to repeat many times what I have read, watched or heard. It is not that I read, watch or listen to a lot of things, but I like repeating. I enjoy that a lot. A distance is created from a certain thing and when I go back to it, I enjoy that feeling. When I revisit anything, I do find a new thing every time. It is not that my perception changes vastly but yes some things feel different, there is a sense of difference. Like Manik Bandhyopadhyay’s Atashi Mami... when I had read it in 2014 I had felt very emotional towards it... now when I read it that memory of an emotional breakdown is there but it no longer happens. I can see three more different perspectives in it.
How’s life after marriage? What are the changes in life?
Earlier I used to live alone, now my partner and I stay together. The changes that usually happen in a Bengali household after marriage... that’s there. And I enjoy these changes. But both of us have become very bored of staying in the house for such a long time, and we are very keen to go out and work. But more-or-less I enjoy the changes. I was getting quite tired of staying alone. My partner and I enjoy each other’s company a lot, so we spend our days well.
What is your favourite way to pass time together?
(Laughs) We play ludo a lot on our phones. Two of our friends join us. And since it is an online game, people can join us from wherever they are. We have many common friends from our theatre group and together we play that a lot. In a day, we play it four to five times. (Laughs)
Are both of you doing up the new home?
I have been in this house since 2017, but yes a lot of reconstruction keeps happening here. Last year around this time we were doing up this place but now it is ready. We were adding some bookshelves and the books have also come now. Many people have also gifted us books for our wedding, we have arranged those on our shelves.
Do you enjoy travelling together?
We do. Madhurima likes travelling a lot but I am not very enthusiastic about it. It is not that I don’t like it. So, we haven’t been on many trips as such. I had a shoot in north Bengal and we went to Kalimpong together after I wrapped up my schedule there and that’s it. That can be considered as our honeymoon. But we have not managed to go anywhere after that. We visit Midnapore quite often, it is my native town. I actually want to work now. I am a workaholic and can’t stay without work. My priority is to first start working, then if I get tired I will think about travelling again!
Pictures: Siladitya Dutta
Wardrobe: Abhishek Dutta
Make-up: Aniruddha Chakladar
Styling: Sandip Jaiswal