Talking about his film, Dhananjoy, Anirban, the lead actor in the movie says, “No doubt, it’s a controversial subject but we have tried to create a second perspective of a poor man, not a hero”.
Actor Anirban Bhattacharya, applauded for his sincere performances in films like Eagoler Chokh and Colkatay Columbus, is happy with the success of his new film Dhananjoy. Bhattacharya talks about his experience and the challenges he encountered while doing this film, and a lot more.
How did you lock this project?
I had done two films with Arindamda (Arindam Sil) before – Eagoler Chokh and Durga Shoy; so he called me up for his next film. He said he wanted to do a film on Dhananjoy. He asked me if I remembered him or knew about him, and I said I was aware of the case. I remembered a few news articles I had read about the case, which was in the limelight thanks to the media. He told me about the character and that's how he locked me for Dhananjoy's character. It was astonishing for me because the character demands so much from the actor. But since this offer was coming from Arindamda, it was special for me. That's how I agreed to do the role.
Want kind of preparation did you go through for your role?
Arindamda had arranged everything for me. Dhananjoy team and I went to Bankhura in Chhatna, West Bengal, where he was born. There we met his family and friends. I learnt many things about his life and himself. Then, Arindamda took me to Alipore Central Jail, where I saw his cell and even the place where he was hanged. These were the external, primary classes for Dhananjoy. Also, I started reading the book Judiciary–MediaSociety, which was a huge inspiration for me. It was research like this that helped this film stand out.
After that, I started my mental preparation for the film. It is tough to express this in words. The film is complete but it is still in my mind because I had to play 'death' in this film, and death is impossible to 'act'. I don't mean the actual hanging scene or even stopping to breathe, but the thought that death is waiting for you… your death has been announced and now it is time for you to die. Portraying this was a big challenge for me.
Was it emotionally challenging for you to play this character?
Yes, it was but I have had some training in acting and that helped. I also had to lose weight to look like Dhananjoy.
What was it like working with the director?
It was fun working with Arindamda as I am used to working with him. I am familiar with the techniques, methods and processes he follows while shooting a film. With this film, we were serious, disciplined and tried focusing on small details. Well, this is a very special film for both of us.
Can you tell us about your journey from theatre to film?
I have done theatre for a very long time, perhaps 13 years, and I had never dreamt that I would one day move from theatre to films. I have dome theatre with directors like Suman Mukhopadhyay and Debesh Chattopadhyay. Soon, I landed a part in a Bengali film, which is where Arindamda first saw my performance and cast me in his film.
Are you interested in working in Bollywood as well?
Sure, why not, provided I get to work with great directors and with great content. Bollywood has a greater reach than regional films but I love my regional films, I love my work, I love my people… I am a true-blue Bengali!
What kind of genres you are still waiting to do?
I want to do a serious love story, but not love stories like Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge or Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. I want to do a film like City Lights or Ghulam. I want to do love stories that are unusual and say a lot many things.
What did this movie unlock in you as an actor?
Hmmm… my beard has greyed after doing this film and my blood pressure has dipped. After Dhananjoy, my health has not been great. I am still to emerge from the mental state I was in for Dhananjoy.
Are you happy with the response being received from the audience?
The audience was already excited about this film since the very beginning. However, there were some who were not in favour and believed there is no need to make a film on a man who was accused of rape and murder.
No doubt, it's a controversial subject but we have tried to create a second perspective of this incident. We definitely don't support rape; all we wanted to do was show what happens when those who do not have the financial means are up against a police investigation and have to fight a case like this. It's a story told from the perspective of a poor man, not a hero.
I am happy that the audience accepted this film as it was a national issue, a case where the court ordered that he be hanged even though he was not a terrorist. I think people should watch it because a lot of hard work has gone into it, and it is the product of plenty of emotion and research.
Your future projects?
I have already signed a film and, only recently, Srijit Mukherji offered me a role in his upcoming film Uma.
It's a good role and I am excited about it because I have wanted to work with Srijit Mukherji for a long time.