August 5, 2011 (Calcutta Tube): Meet Rudranil Ghosh, the actor who has got what it takes. He is Bangshi Das in Anindo Banerjee’s debut film Chaplin based on a wonderful story and script by Padmanava Dasgupta. He has won the maximum muber of awards under the two categories of comedy and negative role. Cheerful after an accident that hospitalized him for some days, Rudranil chats up on his title role in Chaplin. Chaplin has been acquired by Databazaar Media Ventures for distribution, screening and telecasting in North America and Canada.
Who is Bangshi Das?
Bangshi Das is a very poor man who dresses up as Charlie Chaplin to entertain children at birthday parties in affluent homes to eke out a hand-to-mouth existence. It does not matter to him that 90% of the invitees do not even notice him or his act. But he believes he is an artist and has to make a living out of it to feed his nine-year-old son who does not care for his father’s profession.
What is the story about?
It is about a man who tries to turn his poverty into an adventure for his son and himself. He manages to make Rs.500 per month. At one level, it is about a poor, semi-literate man who has to support himself and his son. At another level, it is about his relationship with his son.
How do you look at the two different dimensions of the character – as Bangshi Das, the father and Chaplin, the entertainer?
I look at it as a crisis of choice. Should Bangshi remain Chaplin, the entertainer, or should he remain Bangshi Das, the father of Nimua? Life does not leave him with an option. So it is more about Bangshi Das portraying Chaplin within the film and less about Rudranil Ghosh portraying Bangshi Das.
What does Chaplin do?
Chaplin makes people laugh. He considers himself an artist. He does not want to project any negative vibes to his audience. He does not have the means to buy DVDs or CDs of old Charlie Chaplin films so his act is based purely on improvisation. It was more difficult for me to portray Bangshi Das than to portray Banshi Das as Chaplin. It was a tightrope walk for me.
It is said that you chose Anindo Banerjee to direct the film. Why?
Anindo has been with me from the first day of my shoot for my first serial Roopkatha in 1998. He was a production manager. He was the first man to hand me my remuneration as an actor. We have grown together professionally and personally. He is a cool-headed guy. But most important is that he knows my weaknesses along with my strengths. He knows what I do not know and what I lack as an actor. Padmanava Dasgupta had this powerful script which Orion Entertainment agreed to produce. When they asked me to choose a director, my choice was Anindo.
Did you try to imitate Charlie Chaplin’s acts?
No, I consciously veered away from imitating the great Charlie Chaplin because Bangshi Das had to be a very imperfect version of the original. I used the stick and hat only twice in the film and used a few steps he did. I look at the stick and hat as a part of the technical arithmetic that goes into the performance. I have seen both good and bad copies of Chaplin and I had to portray a bad ‘copy’ if one calls it that. The branding of Charlie Chaplin is embedded so deeply into the mind of the layman that it would be blasphemy to try and copy the original.
How was Soham who played Nimua?
He was so natural that when we were together in the frame, I would see Nimua in front of me and not Soham. Without his brilliant support, I do not think my portrayal would turn out the way it has though the audience is the final judge.
– Shoma A. Chatterji