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regular-article-logo Sunday, 19 May 2024

Calcutta boy Amartya Ray speaks about his upcoming sports-centric film Maidaan

‘When I recovered and came back, the whole field clapped for me. It felt like the sportsman spirit'

Priyanka A. Roy Published 08.04.24, 07:49 AM

Pictures courtesy: Amartya Ray

Calcutta boy Amartya Ray already has two Bollywood films to his credit. The actor, who just wrapped shooting for the Bengali film Nevermind, debuted in Bollywood with 22 Yards and is now eagerly waiting for the release of the much-awaited Bolly film of the year, Maidaan. In the film, he plays the role of the legendary football player from Bengal — Chuni Goswami. In a t2 tete-a-tete ahead of the film’s release on April 10, the actor takes us through his process of becoming Chuni on screen and shares his takeaway from the sets of Maidaan.

Maidaan is releasing after a long wait. How excited are you to show it to your home audience?

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Originating from Calcutta and having such an important role in one of the biggest films to come out of India, the Bengal representation is something I am very proud of. In the trailer or the song, my character, Chuni, has been given a very important place in all the creatives that have been released till now. I have had a lot of support from my audience back home. My family and friends back home, in the industry and the audience at large, everybody has conveyed warmth and love. It feels... when you go to play a match and you have your home audience cheer for you… it is like that.

The way you express through your eyes and the physicality of your character that we could get a glimpse of in the trailer is amazing. How did you achieve that?

The picture was taken from the archival photographs. It is a period look. I had to cut my hair and shave every day, but apart from that we were training very hard. All the boys had to wake up at 6.30 in the morning and train for two hours every day, straight for a month. That gave a physicality to the characters. When you see me tanned in the trailer... it is not make-up. The physicality we achieved was because of the training we went through which was a full professional football level training. That is why Amit (Ravindernath Sharma) sir said in the trailer launch: “Yeh log actors hai par unko players banaya gaya hai.” These expressions, you will see a lot more in the film. I was given a brief of how Chuni was and after reading his book Khelte Khelte there were certain things about the body language that I adapted. He is not scared of anyone on the field. There is a certain aggression and intensity required to captain a national team.

What was the most challenging thing for you about getting into the character?

He is a legendary player. As a child, I trained in football. But you can’t expect to come one day and just do it. There are a few moves we did for Chuni Goswami, like body feints, 360-degree turns, step overs and Cruyff turns. I kept doing these day in, day out so that it looked exactly like that on screen when I had to do it. That was the toughest part of getting into the character... to do justice to this character in the footballing action for the fans and audience. In Madh Island, where we were shooting, a football field was created for Maidaan and all the boys. I used to wear the jersey, with the Indian emblem on my chest, the boots, the captain armband… I still remember that feeling and I always will. Something changed inside me as soon as I walked into the set, a sense of responsibility and inspiration. I moved a bit outside of who Amartya is and stepped into the character. It gave me a sense of pride.

What was the best part of being directed by Amit?

He could catch the emotional pulse of a scene fantastically. It is, of course, there in the advertisement that he has directed, but that inspired me when I looked at him directing. There was a very emotional scene towards the end of the film, where PK’s character and I share a very intimate scene. Amit sir made the whole set quiet and just spoke to me and made me cry. I think that is how much mastery Amit sir has as a director where he can make his actors cry just by speaking to them. Studying in FTII and studying direction, I was constantly amazed by the technical aspects where the film was reaching. Directing a 400-member team on set is not an easy task. It was quite inspiring to learn and look at.

Are you nervous that you played a character with whom people of Calcutta deeply connect their emotions to?

Hundred per cent! I am s***ting my pants right now! I went to shoot at Mohun Bagan Club and there the entry is called Chuni Goswami gate. I am trying to keep myself calm and not get overwhelmed. I hope people will love what I brought on screen. I have a strong belief in the film we did.

You fell ill during the shoot too…

That was a big moment. I had dengue just before shooting the last chunk of the climax. I was heartbroken. We trained for 10 hours every day as a team. When I recovered and came back, the whole field clapped for me. It felt like the sportsman spirit… I will never forget that. I knew I had to do it for the other boys because they believed in me and I believed them. It is like a team. It is a mental thing and all the boys helped me achieve it. Amit sir’s support was always there.

What is that one scene that you have shared with Ajay Devgn that you will hold close to your heart?

There are two actually. One is very emotional and the other one, where Chuni and his charisma, and the coach and his vision are at loggerheads… but I can’t tell you more than that. Both these scenes were special to me.

What are your fondest memories from the set of Maidaan?

I can go on about this! I keep mentioning the boys. The way we shot the film is unlike any other film set where an actor comes and shoots and leaves. We created a family, where we have lived, laughed, eaten food and cooked food together. We went through the most difficult of times and overcame it together. Each day had at least 100 moments which will always remain with us. My fondest memory will be sitting with the boys on the field and doing crazy things that a team of young, fun-loving, hardworking boys can do in between work. And, of course, playing and training with them. The film has offered me this role, and the film is so much bigger than me, but the film has offered me a family. That is what I brought back from the film.

Did Maidaan have any impact on your overall process as an actor?

Yes. Discipline and willpower are what I learnt from Maidaan. When your body gives up, if your heart and mind don’t give up, then you can keep going.

Has this film helped in opening doors for you in Bollywood?

We shall find that out very soon. Fingers crossed.

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