Jan 17, 2012 (Calcutta Tube): Kalyan Ray is one of the most pleasant persons to talk to. Maybe, because acting is not his profession and his head does not carry the halo of stardom. He made a brilliant debut in Aniruddha Roy Choudhuri’s National Award-winning film Antaheen. He followed it up as a mafia don in Abhisandhi, another Bengali film. He comes back in Aniruddha’s about-to-released film Aparajita Tumi in a very different kind of role. This film has been acquired by Databazaar Media for distribution, exhibition and streaming across North America and Canada. He spoke eloquently about his work in Aparajita Tumi.
What character have you played in Aparajita Tumi?
In this film, I play a man who is involved in an inward journey as if he is trapped in an island. It is a complex character referred to as Kakamoni in the film who is slowly getting disoriented from the time-space matrix he lives in and it placed great responsibility on me. It is a completely new kind of character. The child actors in the film were excellent. Tanushree is my co-actor in this film.
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How did you find your relationship with your director the second time round?
I am fascinated by him and by the way he explains everything through visuals sometimes drawn from other films. This helps me a lot to internalize a character because I am not an actor by profession. I specially like the collaborative atmosphere he fills the work-space with. He throws out suggestions and we can work on them. I have only one speaking scene in the film and he allowed a lot of spontaneity. In short, he lets the magic happen.
You did a negative role in Abhisandhi. Did you like it?
I am very choosy because I can afford to be choosy. Abhisandhi was directed by Tarun Chatterjee, the child actor in the film Hospital (1960) directed by Sushil Majumdar. I agreed to do the film because I liked the part and also because they had no money and I wanted to help them out if I could. The role of a mafia don comprised of only a few scenes. It brought out the dark side of the character and helped me explore this dark side as an actor.
How would you compare your performance and character in Antaheen with the same in Aparajita Tumi?
I would not compare the two because for me, it has been an evolutionary process specially because I have never acted before in my life nor did the thought of acting ever occur to me. I would place the credit totally on Tony (Aniruddha)’s shoulders because there is this saying – ‘stories happen to those who know to tell him.’ Stories are all around you. But one must allow the stories to happen and Tony does this fluidly.
Since you are not a professional actor, how do you avoid being conscious of the camera?
I have invented my own magic technique to avoid being camera conscious when the shooting begins. It is quite simple really. I make the camera disappear with my invisible magic wand and everything falls in place. When the camera rolls, I am inside that moment that is being captured and narrated and shot and I am not aware of what is happening around me. I have seen some clips of the film and not the entire film yet. But one thing I must say – Ranjan Palit’s camera work is superb.
Do you have any anecdotal comments to make on the film?
A Chinese girl was asked to dye my hair who came from a village in California. She dyed my hair so black that is was contrary to what the director wanted and what I was supposed to have but when we tried to remove it, it would just not go.
How do you plan to work in Bengali films as you are based mainly in the US?
I come down every year and spend my entire summer in India in general and Kolkata in particular. That keeps me free to accept acting assignments that are being shot around that time. I am planning to retire some time next year and concentrate on writing full time and travelling when I am not writing.
– Shoma A. Chatterji