Looking breezy in a white T-shirt and denims, a perfect mantra to stay stylish in this heat and humidity-ridden city, Parambrata Chattopadhyay walked in with the aura of supersleuth Feluda at PPT in Sector V, the venue for the Super Sleuth Contest held in association with The Telegraph. For almost an hour, the actor who plays the ace detective in the latest series Shabash Feluda based on Satyajit Ray’s Gangtokey Gondogol, currently streaming on Zee5, spoke with winners of the contest at the lounge. A tete-a-tete with Feluda aka Parambrata. Excerpts:
How was the experience of interacting with fans today?
It’s always great to listen to fans and their feedback directly. What was most encouraging was that almost all of them, barring one, had already watched it. It’s just been two days and they have already watched it like thousand others. One of them was a keen observer of social media and he said there’s a section of people arguing on the requirement of updating Feluda. I always try to engage in these conversations instead of trying to avoid them because these conversations are the elephants in the room and we need to address them. The day we started designing or planning Shabhash Feluda we knew that there will be people who will be coming after us with daggers but we banked on people who are open to new ideas and reinterpretation of the classic and they are the ones giving us dividends. I am getting messages in hordes saying they are enjoying and looking forward to more.
What are the compliments that you are cherishing?
Someone from social media on Instagram reached out to me saying that he never liked the trailer and was not intending to watch it either but on the insistence of a close friend he decided to give it a chance and he ended up binge-watching it, finishing all the episodes in one sitting. He also mentioned that it is one of the best series made on Feluda and I have proven him wrong. So that’s one of the compliments that I am cherishing at the moment.
I guess this medium of OTT makes the experience more satisfactory…
The payoff is bigger on this platform. I am an avid series watcher and the reason why people watch series is because they want to mull over the story and the characters. Sometimes movies can leave you with a sense of abruptness but a series is like a proper meal. Halka khaini… it’s like a dupur er khabar, guchhiye kheyechhe.
You played Feluda before, in 2017. How was this experience?
The 2017 Feluda was for another platform when the OTT situation was non-existent. It was an independent piece of work and shot at less cost than a YouTube video. But, we dared to do it and did radical things. Some people loved it and some hated it, as usual. The platform got a lot of traction back then because of the project. We wanted to do Feluda with more resources at hand and bandwidth post that, but were not getting the opportunity. We had been working with Zee5 for a while. In fact, the very first Bengali series Zee5 ever did was produced by us — season 1 of Kaali. We talked and they were kind enough to encourage us to go ahead with our aspirations with Feluda. And the conversation happened right after the first wave of the pandemic and then it took a lot of time for technical issues and other formalities. Finally, in 2022 we could go ahead with it. So, right from 2017 we wanted to go back and do Feluda in a bigger way.
Did you have to prepare for Feluda?
I had to prepare a little bit. I am a casual and easygoing person and have this nervous energy around me and I move my hands a lot while talking. Feluda is somebody who is a little composed and he has humour but is a little on the Brit side. He is a keen observer and doesn’t move his hands while talking. So, I had to be in a different energy zone while doing it.
How has the experience been?
I was doing the double role of playing Feluda and being the acting producer on the sets. My partner Aritro couldn’t be there throughout on the sets so he requested me to oversee in his absence. Usually, he shares the production load when I am acting. So, I had to oversee my EPs and even directors at times. I don’t even remember how and where those 25 days passed in Sikkim.
You have played Topshe as well in the past. How would you describe the journey?
The journey has been very organic. Topshe has been someone who always wanted to grow up and become Feluda; he has idolised him. So, the journey that Topshe couldn’t do on the pages, I made it in my career. And I am so glad it happened.
Who is your favourite Feluda?
It would be none other than Soumitra Chatterjee.
What are your upcoming projects in acting and direction?
My calendar is packed with two new releases in the next two months. So, there’s a film with Abir Chatterjee, a romantic comedy which will release in June. We have teamed up together after a long gap and it feels good to be back. There’s another gritty thriller called Shibpur, which will release in July and I am really looking forward to it. Then there’s Nikhil Advani’s Mumbai Dairies season 2, followed by Avasthi vs Avasthi, a sweet Hindi film where I play the lead. Post that, there are a few more releases as well.In the space of direction, I am directing and producing a series in the horror space. I am making Hawa Bodol 2 and shooting for Koushik Ganguly’s next feature film. Once I am done with these projects, it will be Durga Puja and post that I will be doing season 2 of two very important Hindi series that I have done in the past.
Pictures: B Halder