Oct 22, 2010 (CalcuttaTube): Bengali actor Anindya Banerjee has created a niche of audience through his acting in different mediums. Anindya has worked with ace directors like Suman Mukhopadhay, Arun Mukhopadhyay, Jayati Bose, Biplab Banerjee, Bratya Basu. Some important milestones in his theatre career are the Bengali plays ‘Agun Mukho’, ‘Putul Nacher Itikatha’, ‘Care Kori Na’. He has shown expertise in both cerebral and mainstreams films like ‘Chaturanga’, ‘Mahanagar @ Kolkata’, ‘Herbert’, ‘Ekti Tarar Khonje’, ‘Housefull’, ‘Kagojer Bou’.
A very popular face on the Bengali television, Anindya has worked in TV serials like ‘Khela’, ‘Labonyer Sansar’, ‘Bou Katha Kou’, ‘Diba Ratrir Golpo’, ‘Agni Parksha’, Alpana’, ‘Sudhu Tomari Jonno’, ‘Sahityer Sera Somoy’ and many more.
Anindya shares his journey as an actor, his thoughts and views with Shrabanti Basu from CalcuttaTube in an exclusive interview.
CalcuttaTube: Your acting has an influence of foreign theatre. How did it happen?
Anindya Banerjee: In my childhood days, we did not have much pressure on studies. I grew up in a pretty relaxed environment. My father always encouraged me to study literature. I grew up with watching a lot of English films. But I was very much moved when I saw a Bengali play in Max Muller Bhavan ‘Care Kori Na’, which was translation of a German play. I was attracted to it for obvious reasons, and attended their workshop and later got a chance to work with them.
A year or so later I again got the chance to work some more with a German director. I had just crossed my teenage then. It was a very sensitive time for me. In that age passion dominates and people go through a lot of different phases and they try to bring out whatever they see. Today I have the maturity to think about a role before doing it. I did not have that perception then. So I was very much influenced by those German works. It was not before I crossed 30, I could make myself free from that.
So, I havethe influence of stylized acting and Western theatre in me. There can many conflicts between this and portraying a character. And it is a fact that if you are influenced by some particular theory that can get into your way of depicting a character and an actor projects him in that character.
CalcuttaTube: Is your acting in films carry this influence too?
Anindya Banerjee: Stage acting requires being more grotesque than in films and television. But somehow I cannot do it. I am always in some kind of equilibrium which is the same for stage, TV, films. I cannot come out of this measurement factor. Acting in different mediums requires different ratios and manifestations. I do not do that. People often come to me and say that my stage acting looks like film acting.
In ‘jatra’ the ratio is larger. In films it needs to be smaller because it is a very powerful medium that uses lens, film, and can magnify things more. Many actors consciously maintain this ratio. But in all mediums I act in the same magnitude.
I guess the way I act in different mediums is acceptable. And that is why my directors have given me the permission to do the acting my way.
CalcuttaTube: When did you seriously think of becoming an actor?
Anindya Banerjee: In theatre we say the virtual reality is spirit. Acting, theatre, these are composite art. Even if you need to practice the art on your own, it still remains a fact that acting is a composite art. You need to interact with your team.
Theatre gives birth to a spirit and spirited people can do theatre. Others at some point of time have to give it away. So, I think being spirited from the very beginning I always wanted to be an actor unconsciously. We had an environment at home for music. I somehow came out of the stream and became an actor.
CalcuttaTube: You did Masters in theatre. Did you feel it is necessary to have formal schooing?
Anindya Banerjee: That was not the reason for me to go to study theatre. I was kind of feeling lazy and had a lot of time, so I just went for it. I was not enjoying general studies. So I had to go for fine arts. I never felt much in accord with other streams of education.
CalcuttaTube: What is the scope of new comers in theatre?
Anindya Banerjee: I do not think there is a lot of scope for new comers in theatre. I do not see many new faces in theatre. Most of the time, existing actors change groups.
I see lots of newcomers in films, television soaps, but there percentage is very low in theatre.
CalcuttaTube: Is it the younsters’ lack of interest? Or theatre does not give scope to new actors?
Anindya Banerjee: It is both way. Theatre is failing to attract the young generation. And the young people are not always very patient.
CalcuttaTube: Who influence you as an actor?
Anindya Banerjee: First it is always Jayati Bose. I got a different perception of the whole thing from her. I think women look at theatre from a different angle than men. Their sense of detailing as director is different.
Since I have worked with both men and women directors, it somewhere helped me grow as an actor in sense of totality, both in terms of detail and design.
The other two directors that have influenced me a lot are Suman Mukhopadhyay and Arun Mukhopadhyay. There are also very different from each other in their style. One is very authentic and the other very Western.
Suman Mukhopadhyay is very much aware of what is going on all around the globe and that reflects in his work. He also emphasizes on design and at times one may feel that an actor does not have a whole lot to do. Or it may be that he molds an actor where he/she does not have his separate identity and becomes a part of the design.
Arun Mukhopadhay is very classical. He taught me how to get into a character, where to start from. He is one of the very few teachers in Kolkata who teaches you those very fundamentals.
CalcuttaTube: You are both an actor and an academic. Which one helped you more?
Anindya Banerjee: I have been cultivating different mediums and genres like art, sculpture, music, literature, etc. We had an environment of music at home and I grew up listening a lot of music esp. Rabindra Sangeet, Lalan Geeti, folk, etc and got to interact with many people then who are now in important positions in the music industry. All this helped me grow as an actor. I personally don’t believe that any institution can teach you acting.
Acting basically works with people’s minds, so there is no mathematics that can be taught to an actor. Acting is very versatile and audience preferences change over time. So an actor needs to change himself all the time and go through some sort of evolution. Else you will be outmoded.
You have to keep on updating yourself. You need to know what is going on all over the world, be it painting, theatre, movie, etc. I try to do that. I think it reflects on one’s works. I make it a point to read for an hour everyday and watch a good film. This is my routine for the last 15 years. I think it helps. Also it helps me grow as a human.
CalcuttaTube: What is your favorite genre?
Anindya Banerjee: There is nothing favorite as such. But I love negative roles. There is always a passion in them that I do not find in positive roles….
CalcuttaTube: So how do see the role of Kumud in ‘Putul Nacher Itikatha’?
Anindya Banerjee: There is some sort of versatility in Kumud’s character. He reads Shakespeare, Milton, he knows Waltz. If there anything negative, then that is in social context. But there was a wave of Bohemianism in our society at some point of time. Though the character was written much before that time.
CalcuttaTube: You were talking of keeping your acting updated as per time. So what is your approach when you are acting in a period drama?
Anindya Banerjee: When an audience today comes to see a period drama, there is a code of conduct by which he is going to accept you as an actor. You have to act to them through that code of conduct. I cannot do retro acting. I don’t really care how Kumud acted, or glanced. How I look at his character today, is rather important. And I have to portray Kumud to my audience in a way so that they can relate to the character.
CalcuttaTube: What is your favorite medium?
Anindya Banerjee: Theatre of course. The life I still get in theatre is not present anywhere else. It is very live to me. I am extremely busy with films and television, and still I am doing theatre, working in three – four plays at a time, and people like to see me there. I wish it continues this way.
CalcuttaTube: So far your best role?
Anindya Banerjee: The character I played in Suman Mukhopadhyay’s ‘Agun Mukho’.
CalcuttaTube: Any new thoughts or ideas you are working on?
Anindya Banerjee: We very often hear that experience is a very important thing in acting, just like in any other profession. I think it is time that we question this experience. Mechanical, monotonous and repetitive are the three attributes of experience. There lies a controversy- how authentic it is to do all characters using the same experience. And if it is so, then experience is perhaps not that important. It is now prime time that we question this ‘experience’.
CalcuttaTube: Do you think if we omit this experience factor, new comers will get more scope?
Anindya Banerjee: May be. Whether you are a newcomer or not, you have to question your own experience.
Most of time, we see that people try to get into different characters in the same way, which is not always right. Again we see different characters with the same vision, because our vision is static to us. Sometimes I question this whole approach and try to find answers. I do not have all the answers myself. But this is what I am working on.
Watch Anindya in Bengali play ‘Putul Nacher Itikatha’:
Videos: Shrabanti Basu