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Vikram Chatterjee on his love for animals, the importance of a companion and Friday film Pariah

Trailer of movie left us in awe with its strong message for those ignorant about animal rights, and Pariah wants to break norm and inspire people to stand up for animals as they don’t have voice to do it themselves

Sramana Ray Published 08.02.24, 11:07 AM


Vikram Chatterjee has come a long way, from playing romantic heroes to trying his hands at an action film with a message. Now he is looking forward to the release of his upcoming film Pariah (directed by Tathagata Mukherjee) on February 9. The trailer left us in awe with its strong message for those ignorant about animal rights, and Pariah wants to break the norm and inspire people to stand up for animals as they don’t have the voice to do it themselves. A The Telegraph chat with Vikram...

What are your thoughts right now on the eve of Pariah’s release?


I’m very excited, of course! The subject is very close to my heart and it’s close to a lot of hearts like mine, and I’m aware of that. By God’s grace, with every passing day since the launch of the teaser, and trailer and as we are progressing toward D-day, we can find immense support from people who believe in us. It feels great to touch people’s hearts with a film and a subject like this. I’m also nervous because we’ve put immense effort into it and we’re hopeful.

Your audience and fans aren’t all animal lovers or activists. Some people shoo off animals. So, are you prepared for mixed reactions?

I’m a very strong believer in the fact that every living being that breathes on this planet has an equal right to breathe on it. As human beings, we can’t solely be the ones to enjoy it. It belongs to every living being and that’s how the creator of the universe must have envisioned it, I’m sure. So that’s what I believe, and yes, I have a lot of love for animals, and dogs, especially because I have four of them at home. If there are people who believe otherwise and fail to recognise animal rights, I think they’re missing some amount of humanity in them, which is unfortunate. We as human beings are supposed to be more aware and if we cannot believe in the concept of co-existing then I think that individual needs a lot more enlightenment.

What are your thoughts on the music used in Pariah?

The BGM, plus songs have been composed by Ranajoy Bhattacharjee. He’s known to compose softer, romantic numbers but for Pariah he took up a challenge and treaded on a completely different path. Pariah is an action film and it’s been quite a challenge for him as well and he’s done a great job. The BGM is brilliant and the title track has been sung by Sonu Nigam — someone we’ve grown up listening to, so it’s very special. However, my favourite among all the tracks is Atotayi. It is very close to my heart because it is the soul of my character. It is a war cry. When my character decides to fight for the voiceless, this song plays. And this song defines my character in the film.

Tell us about your experience of moving from romantic characters to doing an action film.

I think it’s addictive. Even though it was challenging to do the action sequences, it was fun shooting them. We shot the sequences for eight days straight. I had a great time doing it. In fact, just three days before the shoot I fractured one of my toes and it wasn’t a minor injury. I don’t know where I managed to gather the strength to go shoot on the expected date but I’m grateful that I did.

You went through a physical transformation...

I had to be at par with what the director had in mind and that required some hard work. This is a passion project and a challenging one as well because it is starkly different from the roles I’ve played before. It was a lot of hard work and the discipline you need for such a process is unimaginable and I had to turn down some other work because of this. There was a phase when I was 88kg because you need to bulk up first, so shooting for other films wasn’t possible as it was 23kg more than what I normally weigh.

We heard that the untrained pariahs received star treatment on set.

It was their shot that was taken first and if the need arose we had to wait and it was never a problem. There was a one-month-old puppy and I feel he was the best actor among everyone. His eyes were so expressive. Whenever he entered the set, we did all his shots first and released him the earliest.

I’ve grown up in a family where both my mother and sister have been taking care of dogs for more than 20 years. I have four dogs and two of them are pariahs. The oldest rescued lab was about to be put down because she was ill. But we decided to adopt her and I’m thankful because she is the sweetest soul. I have seen both my mother and sister face several difficulties while feeding dogs, arranging medications for them and helping them live a peaceful life.

Would you like to do more action films and are there any in the pipeline?

As an actor I’d like to play all kinds of roles and action films, definitely yes. This was Volume 1 of Pariah and there’s going to be a second volume. There aren’t any other action films in the pipeline at the moment but I’m pretty much willing to do it.

Apart from acting what else do you enjoy?

I like travelling and especially going to the hills. Mountains are where I visit to breathe a little easy.

Which part of the hills do you like?

I like the Himalayas. It’s very close to my heart. Himachal has been kind to me. I like going everywhere but there’s this special thing about the Himalayas. There’s a sense of calm and peace irrespective of which place in the Himalayas I visit. Parts of the North East have been very good.

Are you planning to continue with the diet you maintained for Pariah?

No. I’m eating everything. I’d rather maintain a shape that’s apt for all roles. So I will be working on that. I’m a person who’d rather be lean and fit into all characters. As an actor, I think I should always be ready for transformation and work on my physique based on the role and what my character demands.

What do you love eating?

I’m a big-time foodie. I love eating everything (laughs). But as an actor, I get only one cheat meal a week. So, I make the most of it then!

How do you unwind?

I love watching movies, listening to music and sometimes singing a little. I love to travel and ride a bike. So it’s mountains, bike rides, music and cinema.

What about your personal life? Are you in a relationship with anyone?

I’ve been constantly focusing on work. I focus on my work life rather than my personal life and I want to keep things private in life unless I’m confident enough to talk about things.

What are your thoughts on dating and marriage?

It’s all great. We as human beings need companionship. It’s very important to have a partner for life, and personally, companionship is more important to me than the tags or names that are given to it. I love to see everyone around me happy and I hope I’m one of them too. A companion is very dear.

What are your forthcoming releases?

I have three more releases this year. Ke Prothom Kache Esheche featuring Madhumita (Sircar) and Darshana (Banik). Then there’s Amar Sangi with Sohini (Sarkar) and a thriller Durgapur Junction where Swastika Mukherjee and I are playing the pivotal characters.

Picture: B Halder

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