There are many reasons why Kaushik Ganguly’s Palan will be memorable for Paoli Dam. First, the film is a tribute to Mrinal Sen in his birth centenary year; second, the character she plays is called Paoli.
The actress shared with us her experience of working on the film with a bunch of co-stars who are like family, her shoot for Vishal Bhardwaj’s web series and her other projects.
You have been very selective of your roles recently. And we don’t see you much in Bengali films. Any particular reason?
Paoli Dam: For me it is never quantity over quality. It’s not that I’ve to do 10 films a year. Whatever I choose to do should be a memorable one. It should stay with me and the audience. The scripts that came my way actually didn’t intrigue me much, to be honest. I will always say yes to good writing.
What made you say yes to Palan?
Paoli Dam: Palan is a very special film. In Mrinal Sen’s centenary year, it is Kaushik Ganguly’s tribute to him. It is a privilege to be a part of this film. It is like being a part of two important directors from two generations. I had met Mrinal Sen after my film Kaalbela. Unfortunately I couldn’t work with him as he did not do films after that. Kharij is a favourite film of mine. My character Paoli’s entry in Palan is Kaushik Ganguly’s creation. I’m thankful to him for this opportunity, and being able to work with such a lovely set of actors was wonderful in itself. My wish to work in a Mrinal Sen film got fulfilled with Palan.
How would you describe your character in Palan?
Paoli Dam: As I said, Palan’s Paoli Sen is Kaushik-da’s creation. The other characters in the film have their origin in Kharij. Even Pupai, the little kid, has grown up; he is played by Jisshu. The woman he married is Paoli Sen. Paoli is a very beautiful character.
Moreover, before Palan, whether in Hindi or Bengali, the characters I played were very complex and layered, and I loved playing them. But I was also looking for a character which is simple. Paoli came as a breather. She is a simple, practical yet independent and witty kind of a person. The way she handles the crisis situations in the family is commendable. She is mature, accepting and giving. A quintessential Bengali woman. I loved playing this character.
Jisshu Sengupta and Paoli Dam in a still from Palan.
This is for the first time you worked with Kaushik Ganguly. What has been the experience like?
Paoli Dam: Every new thing starts from somewhere. This was it. I am very happy after working with him. Palan is very special, both for Kaushik Ganguly and me.
It was such a lovely journey. I will always cherish it. I got to learn so many things from him. Along with that, the cast and crew members were such lovely people and I was working with everyone after a long time. I collaborated with Jisshu after a long time (Takhan Teish was their last film together). I never got the chance to share screen space with Anjan-da (Dutt). We have been there in films together like in Ahare Mon but in two different stories. And the last film I did with Momo-di (Mamata Shankar) was Maacher Jhol. It is not every day that you get to meet your co-stars. There are few actors who become like family. Jisshu is a prank master. He had a great vibe and energy on the set.
Mrinal Sen had called you after watching Kaalbela. Any other memories of encounters with him?
Paoli Dam: Yes, after Kaalbela I had received a call from him, and got the opportunity to meet and talk to him. There are certain things which are close to your heart and you want to keep them to yourself. During Palan’s promotions, everyone was sharing their experience of working with Mrinal Sen. I never got the opportunity to work with him like Anjan-da, Momo-di and Sreela-di (Majumdar). But he had once told me that if he ever made a film again, he would want to cast me. This is a huge thing for me. There are certain people who inspire and motivate you and give you so much through their work and life. I am blessed to have met a person like him.
The trailer of your next Hindi web series Charlie Chopra & the Mystery of Solang Valley has dropped. How did the project happen?
Paoli Dam: I happened to meet Vishal Bharadwaj last year. He expressed his wish to work together. He is one of the very few directors who happen to be on the bucket list of all actors. I have known him for years but haven’t had the opportunity to work with him. He said he was making a show and he wanted me to be a part of it. That’s how it happened.
He is a master of adaptations and thrillers. This show is adapted from Agatha Christie’s The Sittaford Mystery, which is one of the reasons why I wanted to do it.
How was it working with Vishal Bharadwaj ?
Paoli Dam: The experience was soul-touching and soothing. During the shoot, there used to be musical nights after work. He is a person with whom you can talk about anything. You have so much to learn from him. He is so calm and composed.
How will you describe the current phase of your career?
Paoli Dam: I actually haven’t given it a thought but I can say that I’m very happy because of the content that I’m exploring as an actor.
What is next in the pipeline?
Paoli Dam: I shot the Hindi film Gulab with Sanjoy Nag. Chhaad, which is an NFDC production and directed by Indrani, is yet to release. The film is travelling to festivals. I shot Ektu Shore Boshun with Kamaleshwar Mukherjee. This is my first in the comedy genre. The character is very different from what I’ve done so far. I am still filming Pritha Chakraborty’s Pahargunj Halt. It is a very difficult shoot.