Ananya Chatterjee: Contemporary Bengali cinema is like the new generation

Ananya Chatterjee-Bengali Film Actress
Ananya Chatterjee-Bengali Film Actress

September 23, 2010 (CalcuttaTube/IBNS): Bengali Film actress Ananya Chatterjee has has won the National Award for Best Actress for her performance in Rituparno Ghosh’s Abohomaan (Bengali Movie). She talks at length to TWF correspondent Shoma A. Chatterji.

How and when did you get to know about the Award?

When I got the news from a news channel at around 4.15 pm, I was shooting for Subarnolata, based on the second part of a trilogy by the late Ashapoorna Devi. I play the title role and also the role of Subarnolata’s mother in the serial.

What was your immediate reaction?

My immediate reaction was first to finish the shot that was ready. Then I had to address all the telephone calls and interviews that started pouring in all at the same time. So I was flying from shots to phone calls. The interviews and greetings lasted till three in the morning, so I guess I was denied the opportunity to react immediately. I guess it still hasn’t sunk in.

Till date, you have played the female lead in three films of which one is an out-and-out commercial masala opposite Prosenjit and two are off-mainstream films. How do you differentiate among these three films vis-a-vis the characters you played in them?

The same way I would differentiate between two different characters I play in two films. Let me explain. In Dwando, I played a smart, sophisticated girl (Sudipta) who works in software. She is extremely strong, well-established, has a sober background and is educated. In Abohoman, I play Sheekha, an unsophisticated, aspiring actress, not well read, not well bred, not established in her career, vulnerable and not of refined taste. These two characters are vastly different in terms of culture, background, taste, economic independence, their manner of speech, body language and attitude. When one is acting, one must remember all this and more before one can portray these characters differently and efficiently. In the same way, in (the commercial Prosenjit-starrer) Mama Bhagne, the role demanded a little excess of vitality and a larger-than-life portrayal. That is how these three characters were different in three different films. They are also very different in their way of story-telling.

Ananya Chatterjee in Abohomaan Bengali Film
Ananya Chatterjee in Abohomaan Bengali Film

How do you define yourself as an actress? Spontaneous and natural? Trained and experienced vis-a-vis your television experience? Or, a director’s actress where you like to surrender to the dictates of the director whole and soul?

Abohoman was my first big film. The director was Rituparno Ghosh. So, there was some amount of pressure and nervousness. I had to really prove a point. In Dwando, there was no pressure. Director Suman Ghosh made sure that each member in the unit had come there to enjoy the pleasure of making a film. We had loads of fun and loads of serious work done without even realizing it. In Mama Bhagne with Anup Sengupta, it was again different. Anup da is very respectful of his artistes. I got larger-than-life treatment while working in his film. The three directors make different kinds of films and have different takes on making the films, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed.

How do you define yourself as an actress? Spontaneous and natural? Trained and experienced vis-a-vis your television experience? Or, a director’s actress where you like to surrender to the dictates of the director?

I cannot define myself as an actor. I believe that an actor should be like water – malleable, flexible, liquid, taking the shape of the vessel it is poured into. It is a different vessel each time, so the shape changes accordingly.

What differences do you find between acting on the small screen and acting for the big screen?

The only difference is that the big screen has a much longer shelf life.

Your megaserial Subarnonolata is getting perhaps the highest TRPs in Bengali television. Why do you think it has become such a big success?

After a long time television in Bangla is presenting literature that is a classic in itself, a famous novel penned by a famous writer who won the Jnanpeeth Award without ever having seen the inside of a school. It is a widely read classic among Bengalis across the world. The script, direction and performances show that a lot of care goes behind its making.

What does it feel like sharing National Award with Amitabh Bachchan? You are going to be sitting beside him for the Awards at the rehearsals and for the final function. Elaborate your reactions.

I think I will realize that on the D day. Like I said, I am yet to come to terms with it. I will wait for the moment.

Name some filmmakers you would love to work with – Hindi and Bengali

Aparna Sen, Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, Suman Mukherjee, Goutam Ghosh, Anjan Dutta, Raj Chakraborty and Pinaki Choudhury among Bengali filmmakers. In Bollywood, it could be anyone ranging from Anurag Kashyap, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Mani Ratnam to Dibakar Banerjee.

What according to you is the map of contemporary Bengali cinema?

Contemporary Bengali cinema is like the new generation. It is full of life, zest and promises.

Watch Abohoman Bengali Film Clip online from Youtube

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c83wiVLGBt8

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