Mainak wanted me to be myself in Mini: Mimi Chakraborty
Actress-MP Mimi Chakraborty is playing a modern day aunt in Mainak Bhaumik's film Mini, which co-stars young Ayanna Chatterjee as Chakraborty's onscreen niece. In an exclusive interaction with India Blooms correspondent Souvik Ghosh at Lavannya Studio in Kolkata, Chakraborty talks about Mini, her difficult days, Mumbai exposure and her brand of politics
This story is about a relationship between an aunt and her niece. You yourself are an aunt. Could you relate it to your personal life?
No, I didn't because my niece is very small. She is hardly two years old while Mini (played by Ayanna Chatterjee) in the film is much older than that. In this film, the aunt-niece relationship is a bit different from the equation which I have with my little one because she hardly knows what her aunt does. Here (in the film) this is more emotional bonding and co-parenting.
Mimi Chakraborty with Ayanna Chatterjee
For the first time in your career, your lead co-actor is way younger than you. How was your communication with Ayanna?
When the movie was scripted, myself, Mainak and the production team had decided to have flexible shooting hours considering we had a kid in the casting. When we met her (Ayanna) on the shooting floor for the first time, she was probably a bit intimidated but after that there was no looking back because she used to come to the shooting floor with all her lines mugged and fully prepared. Also she had zero tantrums. Of course, the chemistry between me and her helped a lot. However, in some portions, I had to push her a bit.
Bhaumik says he thought of casting you the moment he wrote the script. Was that an added pressure for you?
Yes initially it was because I hadn't worked with him despite knowing him for long. If someone thinks about me while writing the script, there remains a pressure to deliver. But when I met Mainak on the set, it was totally a different experience because he wanted a spontaneous Mimi and not Titli (her character) in the film. Despite Titli having a different story, Mainak wanted me to be myself. The emotions were put in through me. So a lot of me is there in Titli. Though the lives of Mimi and Titli are different, the outlook is the same.
(From L to R) Mainak Bhaumik and Mimi Chakraborty
Your association with Mainak Bhaumik takes us back to Gaaner Opare days.
That I came to know only after I did this film. So I haven't seen or known him back then. I had no idea that he was writing (on the sets of Gaaner Opare in Roman (script in Roman language) for me. I was not aware of that connection but later I came to know about him during Crisscross.
Did the talks of this project start with Mainak Bhaumik after Crisscross?
No, no, no, no. It had started in the lockdown. We were discussing a lot of things and in the middle of it, he approached me.
Your association with Rituparno Ghosh can't be forgotten. Do you still employ a lot of advice given by Ghosh while you work in films?
Actually Ritu-da had a different school just like every director. But the memory of working with him and being a part of his life were something to be treasured. I still have his number saved in my phone.
In an interview during the lockdown, you had referred to an incident near Hazra More where you looked at an air conditioned car and felt like having it one day. Now when you look back, how do you feel?
Yes, I used to think how blessed was the person to have an air conditioned car. When I used to cross Hazra More while returning from my college, I used to look at the houses which had window ACs back then and consider them so blessed.
At that point of time, I probably had to use wet curtains to sleep in my hostel because of the heat. Now I don't pass by those roads much because I stay in a different location but memories are very alive.
How do you assess the situation in your career being an actor for more than a decade, politician and also trying singing a bit?
(Smiles). Well ah, I am never satisfied with whatever I have done because I believe I still have a lot to achieve, more to explore and work on probably.
(From L to R) Mainak Bhaumik, Mimi Chakraborty and Ayanna Chatterjee
You had a personal loss as well as the fake vaccine incident in your life in the last two years, which were anyway challenging for all of us. How was your life impacted by the two incidents?
Initially the incidents had affected me. People consider me strong, which I am, but frankly, strong people also fall. Though people thought I would overcome it, I knew what I was going through in my room. I had a personal loss in my family, my pet passed away, I was sick both mentally and physically. I have been facing and struggling with mental health issues for a long time. Added to that, the vaccine thing happened. I have seen hardships, pain, failure, distress in life but that phase was probably one of the most horrible years I have seen in a long time. However, that year made me a bit stronger.
You went to Mumbai for a film recently. How was that exposure?
Mumbai has never intrigued me. I was offered films in Mumbai earlier also but I couldn't manage going there due to some reasons. As I waited for the script, I thought it was the right time to go there and I did. The working experience was also amazing. At the same time, Mumbai is just a bigger exposure, probably it's national. But as an MP also, I have got national exposure, so that didn't intrigue me anymore. However, working on a good project always gives me joy irrespective of languages.
Do you intend to expand at any point of time in future?
I am very ambitious in my life, so I always think of expansion (laughs). I always believe in breaking my own boundaries and walls and making new benchmarks in life.
We all are gearing up for 2024 Lok Sabha Polls and you are about to complete your first term as an MP. Unlike present day mainstream politicians, you don't indulge yourself in mudslinging. Does that give a feeling of being a misfit in this political world?
I won in 2019 saying not a single bad word against anyone. Moreover, I am not a political person. I have gained my ground only because I am an actor. People love me for my acting. I won't go on streets and abuse people only because we have known that politicians do that. But of course, I will fight for my rights and the rights of my people which can be done in a very decent way, I believe. I can't throw mud on opponents. My party has done such good work and we can talk about them.
(Images by Avishek Mitra/IBNS)