ANJAN DUTT talks about Bengali Film Adim Ripu: reinventing Bomkesh Bakshi


December 26, 2010, Kolkata Tollywood (Calcutta Tube):   Among urban West Bengal music fans, Anjan Dutt is a living icon. In theatre, he worked with the original scores of Bertolt Brecht’s Three Penny Opera in Bengali. He translated and staged some works of Jean Paul Sartre, Jean Genet and Peter Weiss. Mrinal Sen’s Chaalchitra brought him the Best New Actor’s award at the Venice Film Festival. As filmmaker, after a disappointing directorial debut with Bada Din, Dutt made an impact with Bow Barracks Forever (English). He talks about Bomkesh BakshiAdim Ripu. Databazaar Media Ventures is bringing the film to North America.

Tell us about your decision to cast actors from the small screen – Abir Chatterjee, Saswata Chatterjee and Rudraneel Ghosh as some of the main characters in Bomkesh Bakshi.

I have worked for television a great deal, more as director perhaps, than as actor. My experience has shown me that Bengali television has wonderful talent that remains untapped for the large screen. For almost all my films, I have drawn upon the tremendous pool of acting talent Bengali television has and the lack of opportunity the actors are given on the big screen.  Chandan Sen, the young boys who featured in my serial on a band called Half Chocolate, Abir, Rudraneel, Aparajita Ghosh-Das, Churni Ganguly etc are mainly television actors I have chosen for my feature films. Saswata Chatterjee is one of the best actors we have in the industry today. But the big screen has kept him out of its orbit. I am happy that I have explored his versatility as an actor as much as I could in some of my feature films.

For the first time, the relationship between Bomkesh and his friend-writer-associate Ajit has been treated in a democratic way where you have shown Ajit to be as intelligent, as sharp and as good as Bomkesh even in his detecting skills. Why?

For me, the Bomkesh-Ajit friendship reaches beyond male bonding and the detective-narrator compatriotism. I wanted to demonstrate that their chemistry is based on the fact that they can share a lot of things such as the dark secrets of people, murders, bloodshed and so on. Ajit is a literary exception too because he comes to live with Bomkesh in the latter’s bachelor mess on Harrison Road and then moves into the flat when Bomkesh gets married to live with the family as a member. You will not find this in any other noted thrillers such as in Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories or even in Ray’s Feluda stories where Jatayu may be almost visiting on a daily basis but does not stay in the same house. I have even gone to the extent of showing in my film that it is Ajit who actually solves the murder and the family-riddle though in the original story, it was Bomkesh who did it.

You cast Rudraneel Ghosh against the grain of his popular stereotype image. Was this deliberate?

Yes. It was deliberate. He is a brilliant actor and a versatile one too. He plays Prabhat, the psychologically affected character I found the most difficult to cast. I did some mind-surfing and it was Rudraneel’s name and image that stuck. Besides, he fit the look I needed – short, dark, unimpressive. As an actor, he filled in the blanks with his performance – the diffident, timid, self-effacing, adopted son whose anger simmers within for having been abandoned. He is also knowledgeable and intelligent. He deceives everyone by appearing to be apologetic about his standing in Anadi Babu’s household. He has proved that my choice was right. He defies every rule in the book of the conventional screen hero/villain with his unconventional looks and lack of height by undercutting these with his mind-blowing histrionics.

Shoma A. Chatterji

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