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Indraneil Sengupta: ‘This is a huge honour for me because I am a Ray Barir Feluda!’

Indraneil Sengupta has played the iconic detective in two of Sandip Ray’s Feluda films – Nayan Rahasya and Hatyapuri

Soujannya Das Calcutta Published 20.05.24, 04:49 PM
Indraneil Sengupta (left) with Ayush Das in Nayan Rahasya.

Indraneil Sengupta (left) with Ayush Das in Nayan Rahasya.

After Hatyapuri and Nayan Rahasya, Indraneil Sengupta is more confident of being in Feluda’s skin. The actor talks about his long-held dream of playing the iconic sleuth under Sandip Ray’s direction, his camaraderie with the actors playing Topshe and Jatayu, and his upcoming projects.

Nayan Rahasya is your second outing as Feluda, after Hatyapuri. How much do you think you have evolved as Feluda?

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Indraneil Sengupta: Each time you play a character, you delve deeper into their persona. I believe I was immersed in Feluda in Nayan Rahasya more than I was in Hatyapuri. I also anticipate that I’ll embody the character even better in the next Feluda film, and this process will continue.

How did you prepare for Nayan Rahasya?

Indraneil Sengupta: For me, it always starts with the text. I have been reading Feluda stories since I was a child, so for Nayan Rahasya, I read and reread the story multiple times. The script, which is the cinematic version of the story, became my bible during this period. Babuda (director Sandip Ray) was my guiding force. Having played Feluda once before, I knew his mannerisms and what was expected of the character. I tried to stick to that while also incorporating new elements. When you play a character with full sincerity, you bring something fresh to it each time.

Have the comparisons between you and other actors who have played Feluda stopped after Hatyapuri?

Indraneil Sengupta: I don’t think the comparisons will ever cease. Soumitra Chatterjee was an iconic actor and is the definitive Feluda for many. For subsequent generations, Benuda (Sabyasachi Chakrabarty) has been the Feluda. These comparisons are inevitable, and that’s fine because the audience has set a high bar for us.

I don’t try to match up to Soumitra Chatterjee or Benuda. It’s not my job to emulate another actor to play a character. My job is to become the character. I’ve tried to portray Feluda to the best of my ability, without imitating the greats who have played him before me. It would be a big mistake to do so. Babuda advised me not to try and replicate any senior actor who has portrayed Feluda. Everyone is different, and our goal is to do justice to the character of Feluda, nothing more nothing less.

You had once mentioned that playing Feluda for Sandip Ray is an achievement for you…

Indraneil Sengupta: Absolutely! Playing Feluda in Sandip Ray’s films is one of the biggest achievements of my life. It’s the only role I’ve ever considered my dream role. I even approached Sandip Ray to cast me if he thought I was a good fit. Finally, in 2022, I became Sandip Ray’s Feluda. This is a huge honour for me because I am a “Ray Barir Feluda”! I am extremely proud of this accomplishment.

You were also working on your Bengali diction. Has that improved?

Indraneil Sengupta: How much I have improved is for the audience to decide. After watching Nayan Rahasya, many people told me my Bengali has improved. My co-actor Ayush (Das), who plays Topshe, told me after watching the film, ‘Indra-da, tomar Bangla ta kintu ekdom kharap lagchhena!’ Jatayu, aka Abhijit Guha, told me the same thing. I feel I worked hard.

Babuda was instrumental in guiding me through the dubbing phase. I believe it’s not a big deal; actors learn different languages, dialects, mannerisms and styles for their roles. Bengali is my mother tongue and I just needed to polish it. I speak Bengali with my parents, so I worked hard on it and I’m quite confident in my ability to speak Bengali as required for Feluda.

How has your real-life bond with Topshe and Jatayu evolved over the two films?

Indraneil Sengupta: My real-life bond with Topshe and Jatayu mirrors the bond between Feluda, Topshe and Jatayu. Offscreen, we are just as funny together! Just like Feluda and Topshe gang up to pull Lalmohan Babu’s leg, we do the same — not because it’s in the script but because that’s our natural dynamic. Lalmohan Babu, played by Abhijit Guha aka Ranada, actually enjoys it and joins in. Sometimes we pull Ayush’s leg, and they have the freedom to pull mine too! Anyone with a good sense of humour knows how to laugh at themselves, and so do I. So, we have a wonderful trio who can laugh at each other and at ourselves, and that chemistry shows on screen. We didn’t have to work hard to portray the bond between the three of them.

Has your daughter seen your performance as Feluda?

Indraneil Sengupta: No, my daughter has not yet seen me as Feluda. She’s not interested in Feluda at all, not even in reading. I’ve tried to give her the English edition of the book, but she hasn’t shown any interest. I won’t force her to do anything. Maybe when she hears from others that this iconic character was played by her dad, she might want to watch it. If she doesn’t, that’s okay too. But I would like it if she watches it, and even more if she reads the Feluda stories.

You recently shot with Kajol in Kolkata…

Indraneil Sengupta: Yes, it is for the movie called Maa, produced by Ajay Devgn Productions and directed by Bishal Puria. Some parts of the film were shot in Kolkata. I can’t reveal much about the plot. It’s a supernatural film. I play Kajol’s husband, and that’s all I can share as of now. It’s a great feeling to be part of such a big project and a big production house, and I thoroughly enjoyed working with Kajol and Bishal. I hope I did justice to my role!

Alongside Bengali films, you are also working in Hindi films and OTT. What is your process of selecting a role?

Indraneil Sengupta: I find any good role exciting, regardless of whether it’s Bengali or Hindi, or for a film or OTT. The line between OTT and film is really thin now because many cinematic experiences are happening on OTT platforms. I believe OTT is a great platform for actors aspiring to be film actors. Sometimes, fewer films are being made, and the number of actors needed for a film might not be as many compared to OTT, which offers eight or 10 episodes with many characters. The quality of content on OTT is almost the same as in cinema.

What matters to me is the role, not its length. Another important factor is the platform. I’ve been really wanting to be a part of Amazon Prime, so I’m still looking into it. I’ve worked on Netflix and ZEE5. Also, the directors and production houses matter. Sometimes, money is a factor too. There are many reasons for my choices.

What is next?

Indraneil Sengupta: I acted in a film called Puratawn, directed by Suman Ghosh, featuring Sharmila Tagore and Rituparna Sengupta. I have a good feeling about this film, both in terms of the overall project and my performance as an actor. I’m eagerly looking forward to its release. Apart from that, I’m also working on a couple of Hindi OTT projects.

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