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Abir Chatterjee on Alaap: I could identify with this kind of romance
In frame: Abir Chatterjee | Image by Avishek Mitra/IBNS

Abir Chatterjee on Alaap: I could identify with this kind of romance

| @indiablooms | 24 Apr 2024, 10:58 am

Bengali actor Abir Chatterjee, who is hugely popular playing on-screen sleuths, features in Premendu Bikash Chaki's upcoming Bengali film Alaap, which releases on April 26. In a candid interview with IBNS correspondent Souvik Ghosh, Abir speaks on the "old school romance" in Alaap, his reuniting with Mimi Chakraborty after Raktabeej success and more...

Q. You have played roles with romantic shades in the past. Which element prompted you to opt for Pablo in Alaap?

A. I needed this soft breather, contentwise and characterwise. I am kind of tired with so much dark and violent content around me. It's not that I don't watch those genres but I felt like opting for a soft, romantic film amid too much of detective or adventure films. I could very well identify with the idea of romance in Alaap or could understand what Pablo is going through. So this old school romance, which is less dependent on communication, is my kind of romance.

Image by Avishek Mitra/IBNSImage by Avishek Mitra/IBNS

Q. So, you had a soul connection with the film.

A. Soul connection is a strong word, maybe. I could identify with this idea of romance, Pablo's (Pablo is Abir's character in Alaap) emotions and the premise, which I won't say completely new but the treatment was different. Moreover, the biggest challenge was to show how two people are not getting introduced to each other yet have a bond in this age of technology and abundance of information.

Q. You are not fond of back-to-back thrillers. Does your individual choice of films play a role in opting for a work?

A. Irrespective of my personal likings, I know I have to pick from the option available to me. I will pick the one among many which excites me. Be it a thriller or not, my process remains the same.

Q. How would you describe your pairing with Mimi Chakraborty, which is slowly taking its shape?

A. We had discussed whether it would be the right decision to work together in a quick succession after Raktabeej. We discussed it after hearing the scripts. Though I am fond of certain onscreen pairings, I am dead against the idea of repeating a pair once it succeeds. If I explain further, no one can cite the reason behind the success of a pairing. That's the magic of cinema where no one can define an unknown element. If one can define an element, it would be a technical aspect. Something happens on screen when the audience watches a film.

Abir Chatterjee (L) and Mimi Chakraborty (R) | Image by Avishek Mitra/IBNSAbir Chatterjee (L) and Mimi Chakraborty (R) | Image by Avishek Mitra/IBNS

Q. Did you go through any adjustment to slip into a corporate role?

A. I knew about corporate life because I have been into it. All my friends are from the corporate world. In fact during dubbing, I had called up my brother-in-law with a query. So it was not a major problem for me. Unlike Pablo, I have never stayed alone in a city. For that, I took references from surroundings. But I made it a point that I won't smoke in the film because it was not necessary for the role. But there is a scene surrounding a matchbox, for which I had proposed an idea, which actually worked.

I had proposed that even without smoking, a matchbox could have been necessitated by Pablo to offer prayers. I suggested to Chaki-da that it could be a situation where Pablo keeps the matchbox because he believes in God or he was asked by mother to offer prayers regularly. With that, a humorous communication was created through the matchbox. These are on-set improvisation. Moreover, it was very funny for me to come up with such an idea because I am not into prayers at all in my personal life.

Q. Was there any character trait which you had to develop for the role?

A. Pablo blinks a lot. It is evident in the songs. In normal life, I blink but not like Pablo. Moreover, most of the characters that I have played don't blink this much because they have been very strong. The observation power is sole for a detective, the role which I have played onscreen several times. Even Babu-da (Sandip Ray, director) told me that one of the biggest traits of Feluda was he doesn't blink. But for Pablo, I felt he might have some dry eye issues because he remains awake at night and works on a laptop. I have seen people working on laptops blink. But I have always been aware that I didn't overdo it.

Q. You are expected to be in Canada for the first time soon and that too for Alaap screening. How excited are you?

A. I am very excited. It would be a relaxing getaway for me considering the kind of scorching heat we are experiencing in Kolkata. I always get mixed feelings when I go abroad. I question myself as to why the Bengali films are not reaching other countries which have so many Bengali diaspora.

Whenever I go abroad, I feel very happy for the love and warmth I receive there. At the same time, I feel very sad for the fact we are not able to extend our reach to the Bengali audience abroad. The situation has been the same for more than a decade. No improvement. While a Bengali film is screened once or twice, Punjabi films are premiered there even before the release. It's a mixed feeling for me.

(Images by Avishek Mitra/IBNS)


The writer is a Kolkata-based entertainment, sports and political correspondent with IBNS. He can be reached on thisissouvikghosh@gmail.com

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