I am like Arjuna: Rukmini Maitra

Despite playing ‘Draupadi’ in her next film, the actor relates more to Arjuna and she has her reasons

I am like Arjuna: Rukmini Maitra

Be it during her modeling days or as an actor now, Rukmini Maitra believes in honesty. So, she doesn’t shy away from admitting that she didn’t read ‘Byomkesh Bakshi’ before playing Satyabati in ‘Byomkesh O Durgo Rahasya’. Driven by a profound work ethic, she doesn’t mind what her naysayers have to say. Rather, she has her eyes set on her goals. ‘Millennium Post’ caught up with the actor on films and more:

In an interview, you said you hadn’t read ‘Byomkesh Bakshi’ before. Not many actors, especially those doing a Byomkesh film, would openly say so.

As a child, one thing I learned is that honesty is the best policy. Probably, that’s why I am Satyabati today (laughs aloud). Jokes apart, I felt there was no point in life wanting to be pseudo-intellectual. That isn’t me. I’m a transparent person. If I know, I’m glad to share it and if I don’t, I’m more than glad to ask for help. I hadn’t read ‘Byomkesh’ in the past, but once I was confirmed as Satyabati, I spoke to director Birsa Dasgupta. I told him about not reading the text and he asked me to concentrate on the script. He said there’s not much for Satyabati in the original text. The narrative has been changed keeping the cinematic liberties in mind and what works for the film. I heard an audio play on ‘Durgo Rahasya’. So, that helped me understand Satyabati better. I also did an acting workshop with Daminee Benny Basu. I realised Satyabati has a causal sense of intelligence. She doesn’t want someone to validate her. That is what I liked about Satyabati. In today’s generation, the first thing we do is run for validation. Satyabati validates herself. So, even if her husband (Byomkesh) is a celebrity of her time, at home she is the queen and she knows how to put her point across. She’s the best example of ‘behind every successful man, there’s a woman’.

You recently shared the podium with Sohini Sarkar at the trailer launch of the Bengali film ‘Byomkesh O Durgo Rahasya’. Sohini has been well-accepted as Satyabati. So, did you refer to any of her films?

I watched Uttam Kumar’s ‘Chiriyakhana’. I also watched Arindam Sil’s ‘Har Har Byomkesh’. I wasn’t an actor back then, but I loved Sohini’s performance. She is a natural. When I got my Satyabati, I didn’t go and watch a film to get inspired by it. As actors, what we do is infuse life into the characters we portray. So, I know that if I took that life from someone else, the character wouldn’t be mine. Good, bad or ugly, this Satyabati is mine.

The trailer for ‘Byomkesh O Durgo Rahasya’ has a commercial feel.

This particular chapter of Byomkesh couldn’t have been made if we hadn’t pushed the boundaries and added mainstream ingredients. The story of ‘Durgo Rahasya’ commanded a grand scale. I don’t think it could have been done in any other way.

Both Ram Kamal Mukherjee and Birsa Dasgupta approached you for their respective projects, ‘Binodiini’ and ‘Byomkesh O Durgo Rahasya’. However, there seems to be a general perception that Rukmini is a natural choice for all films produced by Dev.

(Laughs aloud) I can name other actresses who work only in particular productions. But no one is willing to talk about it. However, no one can point a finger at my hard work and character. People are inquisitive, but genuinely, I’m a boring person. All I can do is work. People don’t want to see the truth, so they latch onto other stuff. My directors are the best people who can respond to this. Also, 50 years from now, what will remain are my films. So, I better focus on them. I am not Draupadi. I am like Arjuna. The only thing I concentrate on is the ‘eye of the fish’.

After the mainstream outing ‘Kishmish’, you will be seen as Satyabati, Binodini Dasi and Draupadi. Is it Rukmini Maitra 2.0?

I feel like I haven’t even started. I’m still taking baby steps. I don’t know if it’s 2.0 for Rukmini. During my early interviews for ‘Chaamp’ and ‘Cockpit’, when I was asked where I saw myself in five years, I always maintained that I wanted to see a big-budget movie with the face of just a heroine. If that happens, it’s 2.0 not only for me but also for all my contemporaries. We see women-centric films, but on a small scale. The fact that films are getting bigger and better is good news for us women in the industry.

Both Dev and you are trolled. Does he ever sulk?

Dev is a thorough professional. From where he came from in his life to where he stands today, it has been a long and inspiring journey. Also, he is an extremely secure man. The biggest insecurity is when you don’t know who you are. Dev hasn’t forgotten his roots.

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