On a relaxed afternoon we caught Tollywood actor Amitabh Bhattacharjee in his Kolkata apartment where he talked about some of his upcoming movies, his future plans on acting, film making. Read this intimate interview at Calcutta Tube.
Calcutta Tube: I see a lot of different colors on the walls? Why is that?
Amitabh Bhattacharjee: Color reflects ones mood, feelings, phases one goes thru. My wall has orange with an idol of Durga. The other walls have different looks. Colors help you feel what you are. They can be therapeutic. We actors go through a lot of emotions which we are paid for performing in front of camera. So at certain points it kind of gets difficult to realize our own emotions. So a prominent color that you had probably made at some prominent moment welcomes you back home. It is a nostalgic gift.
Calcutta Tube: Please elaborate.
Amitabh Bhattacharjee: When we are in front of the camera, it is a make believe world and we undergo emotional changes without any rhyme or reason it is kind of different from what people normally do. We portray a character and the emotions of that character. If I am doing multiple different scenes in a day, I have to prepare likewise. So we are always working on those emotions and reflect them. It takes a while to come back to our own emotions.
Calcutta Tube: Please tell something about the film ‘Kolkata The Metro Life’.
Amitabh Bhattacharjee: Amitabh Bhattacharjee, Sharad Kapoor are in the cast. I play a guy who is mistaken for a terrorist. The leader of the terrorist group was his senior from college. The police try to catch me and interrogate. Eventually they come to know that I am not a terrorist, though I know their leader. Cops tell me to go back to the group and supply them with information. That all I would say right now. No more. Else you all won’t come to the theatres.
Calcutta Tube: Why did you choose the film?
Amitabh Bhattacharjee: When I first joined the industry, I always thought of doing good work. Later I realized many things. Good work is not just enough. And again if you think you can do better, then you better shut up. Because if you tell people that you can do better, then they will not give you work. So, I just don’t say much anymore. They do whatever they do. Now I don’t even bother to ask about scripts and all. It’s fruitless and futile. No one cares. And I get fed up.
Calcutta Tube: Why did you then come to Kolkata from Bollywood anyway?
Amitabh Bhattacharjee: It is difficult to say why. I was in Bollywood not as an actor, but doing directions. From thereon I got an offer for the Hindi film ‘The legend of Bhagat Singh’. I was very apprehensive about doing acting about the film and I did what I did. People liked my acting. Then my first Bengali film came as a chance. I thought my life has changed, I have become an actor. Bengali film was booming in 2003. Bengali films were to make an impact again. Big films were coming and my films were also big. Than after that people appreciated my work and I was approached with films and signed. I kept on getting offers and I kept signing. I never refused them. Then time changed. In 6 years, I have seen a lot of changes. People now think cinema making is easy, like selling vegetables. So when time changes you don’t know what to do.
Calcutta Tube: Would you like to go back to Bollywood?
Amitabh Bhattacharjee: I am deeply thinking on going back to Bollywood. And I may go back to Bollywood. I am just waiting. I don’t want to make the same mistakes there. In all these years, Bollywood industry has changed. I will be very apprehensive.
Calcutta Tube: Please say something on ‘Chupi Chupi Mon Churi’.
Amitabh Bhattacharjee: Chupi Chupi Mon Churi is an interesting story about two village thieves who decide that they can’t prosper in life if they stick in the village. One of them wanted to be rich for his girl friend and the other wanted to be rich just for himself. So they go the city and struggle. When they run out of money, they again get back to stealing. They suddenly save a rich man from an accident who promises to help them one day. They get employed in that rich man’s house as a gardener and a driver. I play the gardener.
Calcutta Tube: What made you say ‘yes’ to this role?
Amitabh Bhattacharjee: The director is a friend of mine. The script is good, and I like to work with him. The dialogues are good with traditional Bengali culture in them which is also kind of urban. He is trying to go for modernization. People will relate to this story and the main protagonists. I feel that this movie will do good.
Calcutta Tube: How was it working with Sharad Kapoor?
Amitabh Bhattacharjee: He is from Kolkata, a senior to me. Then also went to Mumbai and has done many good films there. I call him ‘Billu da’. Working with him was very nice. I am working with him for the first time though I have interacted with him before. As a senior he is very comfortable to work with and he will work with you as many times as you want him to. He is very cooperative. We play pranks on everyone all the time which kind of brings everyone closer and makes it feel like a family. He is a fine actor. His face is very interesting and when utilized properly he makes a very good impact in a film.
Calcutta Tube: On Buddhadeb Dasgupta is very choosy director. How was it working with him on ‘Ami Yasin…’?
Amitabh Bhattacharjee: I saw the film. It is very good. I don’t know if the film is going to release. People are optimistic about the film’s release. I am myself because everyone who saw the film feel it should release, everyone should know about the film. I learnt a lot from my director which was very important for me.
Buddhadeb Dasgupta is a man who makes poetry come alive. Whenever I see his films I feel he writes poetry in films. He is a very good poet, too. He is very sensitive about issues in his films. His visuals are very interesting. You just have to be there and be part of that visual. I used to observe him all the time whenever he was taking a shot. He would look to you and explain things with his eyes only, without speaking much. He is brilliant. I want the film to get released. It was nice working with Prosenjit Chatterjee and Sameera Reddy. I play a lead role in the film, my names comes in the title of the film. I am called Yasin, ‘Ami’ is Prosenjit and ‘Madubala’ is Sameera Reddy though the character she plays is called Rekha. It a very interesting film about life and struggle. I hope the film gets released soon.
Calcutta Tube: You are a great actor. But we don’t get you that much in films. Why is it so?
Amitabh Bhattacharjee: It is hard to say. I like my work and whichever films I get I work hard for them…
Calcutta Tube: …You have previously said that you don’t get many choices. Why?
Amitabh Bhattacharjee: I like to act. Whenever I play a character I like to explore that. But right now I am not in a situation where I get to be picky. If you are a professional, there will instances where you will have to do everything; you don’t have an option to choose. You have to do things even if you don’t like them. You can be criticized if you do certain things. And if you don’t do them, you can get criticized again. So it is difficult.
I think every film can be an interesting narrative, with good visuals if you look at it from a director’s point of view. When I read a script before I start to work, I see the visuals the way I want to see. When the actual visuals are as good as or even better than my speculations, it is inspiring. Else it is kind of sad.
Of all the films I have done, some have made marked difference in my acting. It is all about how well you are in sync with your character. We are basically jack of all trade, and cinema is a medium where I have the opportunity to be everything. You get to live so many roles, at one point of time.
Calcutta Tube: Have you thought of making films?
Amitabh Bhattacharjee: I might make films after a few years. I am very keen on making films. I have done some behind the camera works as an assistant director. I am acting for the last 6 – 7 years. After 5 – 6 years may be I will make films, that is when I get more white hair and white beard and look like a grandpa.
Calcutta Tube: Will you act in your own films?
Amitabh Bhattacharjee: No, I won’t act in my own films. Then who will get the blame of giving a flop film! I don’t want to take the blame of being a bad director and a bad actor at the same time, even if I make flop films. So people can call me a bad director for a bad film, but not both.