Oct 20, 2010 (CalcuttaTube): Debjani Chatterjee is a popular actress of Bengali television and films. She has recently starred in the Dev starrer Bengali film ‘Le Chhakka’. She is also the lead actress of the Bengali play ‘Aandhare Ekela’ directed by Biplab Banerjee that has been selected at the National School of Drama (NSD).
Debjani talks about her experience working this brilliant play for which she has earned critical acclaim, her journey as an actress, her future plans and her upcoming Bengali film ‘Ogo Bideshini’. Read the exclusive interview at CalcuttaTube.
CalcuttaTube: How did you become an actress?
Debjani Chatterjee: My career in acting was nothing planned. It happened quite suddenly. My friends and I acted in plays mostly for fun. We had a small group, nothing like any regular, serious group theatre. Then one day a friend associated with the film industry got impressed with my acting. He was starting a TV serial at that time and offered me a role. That was how I got professionally started. I continued working as things came in my way. I am in this profession for seven years now.
I do theatre because it fun. But I cannot make commitments to theatre right now. It is also not my priority at this moment. I just love to act, that is why I am doing it. The team of ‘Aandhare Ekela’ (Biplab Banerjee, Gautam Dey, Arijit Chowdhury) – we are all very good friends and colleagues. I liked the script, too. That is why I am doing the play.
CalcuttaTube: Did you get any formal training in acting?
Debjani Chatterjee: I do not believe in teaching acting. You have to have the imagination and skill within yourself. I myself do not have any such schooling. Acting is an art. A mere schooling does not make an actor, even though you can learn some theories and things like that.
CalcuttaTube: Please share your feelings about ‘Aandhare Ekela’ going to NSD.
Debjani Chatterjee: ‘Aandhare Ekela’ going to NSD is a great feeling. It is an achievement. I am so excited. This is the first time I am going to NSD.
I am very glad to be a part of the ‘Aandhare Ekela’ team. And I am equally honored that Biplab Banerjee has cast me in his directorial venture and had his confidence in me that I could do this character. In the initial stage, I myself did not have much confidence if I could do it.
CalcuttaTube: So, how did you prepare yourself for the role?
Debjani Chatterjee: Rehearsal, rehearsal and more rehearsal. That is how I got prepared for the role. I tried to understand the character, get deep into it. You know, I worked really hard on this, but at the same time I was extremely nervous.
CalcuttaTube: Your performance in ‘Aandhare Ekela’ has earned rave reviews. How do you feel?
Debjani Chatterjee: In the play, everyone has done great. It may be that I got a lot of attention because the character I play is more highlighted in the script. But if my co-actors had not done well, the play would not have survived just by my acting skills alone. I think Arijit, Gautam da, – they all have given me brilliant support all throughout the play. This is a great team work.
CalcuttaTube: Since ‘Aandhare Ekela’ is going to NSD, would you give theatre more priority now?
Debjani Chatterjee: In West Bengal theatre has still not reached that stage where it can be taken as a sole profession. Like I said I do it out of passion. And I think it would make me better as an actress. But theatre is still not prospective as a profession right now.
CalcuttaTube: You are going to get a national exposure, how is that feeling? What are your future plans?
Debjani Chatterjee: I am really excited. To be very honest, I never had this much expectations. We just sent it to NSD, but never thought this may happen. So we are extremely excited.
I am trying to focus on good roles only, no matter what medium. I have always been very selective about theatre and will remain choosy. I will do theatre only with those people with whom I can mentally match. There has to be like minded people. There are certain things I am very clear about. I will do only lead characters and good roles. The working environment and my co-actors matter a whole lot to me.
These days I am being choosy about television works too.
When we did ‘Aandhare Ekela’ Biplab da compromised a lot with us. He has been very lenient. He has worked with us as per our timings and schedules. This is an immense adjustment for him as a director. I need this kind of environment when I am doing theatre. I mostly work for celluloid and earn my living there. So I have time constraints. I cannot avoid that truth.
CalcuttaTube: What is the best thing you liked about doing the role of Parna in ‘Aandhare Ekela’?
Debjani Chatterjee: I liked the role in every way. Every scene, every moment is touching for me.
There is a scene where I say ‘Aamar banchar ki hobe…. ’ which is the best of all. We create that moment!
CalcuttaTube: You work mostly for Bengali television? What about working in other languages?
Debjani Chatterjee: I got an offer from Mumbai to work in a TV serial some time back. But right now I am not in state to go and work there. Here I have my base, my identity. Over there I have to start from scratch. Leaving everything here in Kolkata and going to Mumbai for doing a TV serial does not make any sense to me. I am doing serials here anyway. So just for some money I do not think I would go there.
CalcuttaTube: What about films?
Debjani Chatterjee: I have not got any offers from films yet. But I would not like to go and try my luck there. It is not the right time and age for that. I won’t really like that struggle there. Bollywood is a not a very easy place. You have to prove yourself. I don’t feel much for that. But if anything comes on my way, and I like the role I will go for it. But it has to be films. I am not interested in doing TV soaps in Mumbai.
Personally, I think as far as TV is concerned we are no less than what they do in Mumabi. Only they have bigger budget.
CalcuttaTube: Please tell us something your role in the upcoming Bengali movie ‘Ogo Bideshini.’
Debjani Chatterjee: I play is very sacrificing character in the film. It is one of the lead characters. It is of a girl who does not have her father. She has taken responsibilities of her family and her siblings. And that is the reason she has not got married either. It is like the roles you see in commercial Bengali films. It is a very good role. I like the story too.
The film has Abhishek Chatterjee, Sohini Pal, Abhishek (he plays another brother, too), Locket Chatterjee, and Tapas Pal who acts opposite to me. The casting is really good and the film offers good scope of acting. And it was very nice working with Tapas da. He is every nice and co-operative.