‘Working with Vishal Bhardwaj is like winning a lifetime achievement award’

Paoli Dam is also garnering praise for her sensitive performance in Mrinal Sen’s tribute film ‘Palan’

‘Working with Vishal Bhardwaj is like winning a lifetime achievement award’

Actor Paoli Dam believes it’s a lucky time for her because she got to work with Vishal Bhardwaj, who has made his OTT debut with ‘Charlie Chopra and The Mystery of Solang Valley’ and Kaushik Ganguly in ‘Palan’, a tribute film to iconic Mrinal Sen. ‘Charlie Chopra and The Mystery of Solang Valley’ is an adaptation of Agatha Christie’s ‘The Sittaford Mystery’.

“It was an achievement of a lifetime working with Vishal Bhardwaj. He is one of the directors who is on the priority list of any actor. Be it films or music, he is one of the supreme talents we have around. So, working with him was a dream come true moment. We were in talks for a while and finally, everything fell into place,” she said.

The series has an ensemble cast including some of the premium talents in the Indian film industry like Naseeruddin Shah, Ratna Pathak Shah, Gulshan Grover and Neena Gupta. “It was like being in an institution. I have always admired them and therefore, all I did was keenly observe them on the set,” she said.

Paoli also said that all the actors have been in touch through a ‘WhatsApp’ group. “Usually after a project is completed, it’s not always we stay in touch with anyone. But after working in ‘Charlie Chopra’, we have a ‘WhatsApp’ group where all 18 actors are there. So, you can understand the energy and infectious bonding we had on the set,” shared the actor.

Paoli’s OTT work has been significant with ‘Kaali’, ‘Bulbbul’, ‘The Great Indian Murder’, ‘Karm Yuddh’ and now ‘Charlie Chopra’. She was one of the few talents from the Bengali film industry who made her presence felt nationally the moment OTT entered India. Today, a bevy of actors from Tollywood are acting in national series.

“OTT has a global reach irrespective of language. Thanks to OTT, now actors from all regions and languages are getting recognised. OTT also opened up space for many talents. This cross-cultural connection has been possible only for OTT,” said the actor who will be seen alongside Ritwick Chakraborty in ‘Paharganj Halt’ and ‘Ektu Shore Boshun’.

Meanwhile, Paoli is also garnering a lot of praise for her sensitive portrayal in ‘Palan’, where she plays Jisshu Sengupta’s wife. The actor has always wanted to work with Ganguly and she is elated that the collaboration happened on ‘Palan’, a tribute film to the iconic filmmaker Mrinal Sen on his birth centenary.

“I don’t think anybody would say no to a film like ‘Palan’,” she said.

Calling ‘Palan’, an extension of Sen’s ‘Kharij’, Paoli said how Anjan Dutt, Mamata Shankar, Sreela Mazumdar and Debopratim Dasgupta (all of who worked on ‘Kharij’) went on a nostalgic trip while working on ‘Palan’. “It’s not that we spoke a lot about Mrinal da but since we knew we were taking forward the legacy of ‘Kharij’, he was always with us throughout the journey,” she said.

As she spoke about Sen, Paoli recalled the time when Gautam Ghose had shown ‘Kaalbela’ to the legendary filmmaker and he suggested Ghose release it on the big screen. “After ‘Kaalbela’ was released, I was shooting for another film and suddenly I received a call. Mrinal da called and told me how much he liked the film. Initially, I couldn’t believe it was him. I thought it was a prank. He told me that he wanted to meet me,” she said.

Later Paoli went to his house and met him. “Mrinal da told me that if he makes a film, he will cast me. That never happened and I will forever regret this. But now, with me working in ‘Palan’, a film which pays tribute to ‘Kharij’ and him, I think it has been a divine connection,” said the actor.

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