The message of the December 24 film Tonic, starring Dev and Paran Bandopadhyay, is very clear. It is all about inspiring people to spread joy, dream big and live life to the fullest. A candid chat with Dev and Paran....
Paranda, do you know that Dev has already done a film that is named after you?!
Paran: Yes, the film is called Paran Jai Jaliya Re (smiles). Many years ago, I was at an award ceremony. I was sitting in the front row and the sound coming through the speakers was quite loud. During the break, I stood up and as I was about to leave, Mir spotted me from the stage, and said, ‘Paran jaye choliya re!’
Paranda, you are shooting for various films in your 80s. From where do you get this energy? What is the secret?
Paran: I do it for the people. And I learn from the people only, and try to present a sincere performance. When they bless me, I feel a certain kind of strength inside me. Praise means more responsibility... to perform even better in the next film. Aaro bhalo korte hobey! I get inspiration from that. That is my strength.
Tonic has scenes of you doing adventure sports...
Paran: I could do it because Dev was there. Dev was my ‘tonic’ in real life too.
Which sport did you enjoy most?
Paran: All of them. Once you have dived into it, you have no other option but to enjoy it.
Did you do all of them for the first time?
Paran: Yes, and for the last time too!
What if Dev asks you to go rafting for another film?
Paran: No, no, I won’t be able to do it. Maybe I’ll do something even more daring after this, which requires more courage... but I don’t think I’ll be able to go rafting again.
Dev: The way he has performed is just amazing and our chemistry is on point in Tonic. The courage that he has shown at the age of 82...
Paran: I was 80 then....
Dev: ...Yes, it is admirable. You’ll get to see the love he has for Bengali cinema in this film, this will stay there forever. And later, Paranda’s immense feat as an actor and his immense courage can be held up to anyone for reference.
Dev, what was your headspace before filming the rafting scenes with Paranda?
Dev: The fun of this film lies in the adventure. Our team got everything ready before the shoot took place. A day before the shoot, Paranda was in two minds about doing the water rafting scenes. It was important to film those scenes and it had to be done in an authentic way.
What was your ‘tonic’ for him?
Dev: I told him that he was going to create history at the age of 80 (smiles). Young people will look up to him and seek inspiration from him. And he was like, ‘Ei, don’t flatter me!’ The shoot went off really well. And the result is there for everyone to see. Everyone is talking about the BTS scenes of rafting. Also, the moment when he is riding a bicycle. That also came out so well. Initially, he was like, ‘Will I be able to do it? I haven’t done this in a long, long time.’ We started practising slowly and he got the hang of it. Then we found out that he last rode a cycle almost 60 years ago. It is all about living life to the fullest and that’s what the film Tonic says. To live in your own way, to live on your own terms and be happy.
Paran: No one forgets how to cycle or swim. But one has to test it to figure it out. See, when Dev is there with me, I feel really confident. Because he was there with me, I could do all those things. I was with the lion! Initially, I was feeling a little scared but then I quickly overcame it and went ahead with great energy and enthusiasm.
Dev, you had worked with Soumitra Chatterjee in Saajbati, and now with Paranda in Tonic. How were the experiences different?
Dev: I was a bit reserved on the sets of Saajbati. Maybe it had to do with the character I played in the film. The pattern was different there. I could adapt to that situation. I am closer to the character I play in Tonic. Since we share this amazing camaraderie, it is getting reflected on screen. We shared a great bonding off screen, which is why everyone is talking about our on-screen chemistry.
Did you have to convince him about doing other difficult scenes as well?
Dev: So there’s a scene where he is in a bathtub.
Paran: It was supposed to be filmed at night.
Dev: But then we get to know that he doesn’t want to do the scene. He doesn’t want to get into the water. I met him, and he was like, ‘I don’t want to do it today, I’ll do the scene tomorrow.’ Another day, we were supposed to do an emotional scene in the rain. It was a very important scene.
Paran: There’s great scope for acting in that scene.
Dev: And then suddenly Paranda is like, ‘I don’t want to get wet in the rain. I’ll catch a cold’. I spoke to him after that, made him see reason and he did the scene in the rain. He even did the bathtub scene.
Did you catch a cold?
Was there something that he absolutely would not do?
Dev: See, he did so many things, with so much enthusiasm, from rafting to cycling to doing emotional scenes in the rain. But he refused to do only one thing. He wasn’t ready for it. He would not get on the ropeway.
How was it like working with Dev?
Paran: It was very meaningful, very special. I have seen some of his films, from Paglu, Chaamp to Kabir. And he has made his presence felt and left a mark in all of them. Dev has captured the essence and emotions of Tonic beautifully. People will get to see a different Dev in this film. With his look, height, physique and his emotions, Dev has become this character... completely merged himself into it. The way he expresses the energy inside him is amazing. We have seen him fighting a lion in Chander Pahar! For a scene, he picked me up. I weigh 80kg and he could do that for a scene. I was pleasantly surprised.
Dev: Tonic is for everyone. And it is here to entertain people. People can relate to the story. And I would like to tell everyone to watch the film with your family, you will really enjoy it then. Everyone is a hero in their own families. And that is what the film is all about.
Paranda, people are praising your performance in Bob Biswas. How does it feel?
Paran: Yes, it feels good. Occasionally, I talk to Sujoy (Ghosh) over phone. There’s all this talk that I get to hear... that people want to see a spin-off from my character. It feels really nice.
Picture: B. Halder