Swastika Mukherjee is not exactly on the top of the charts. This is no reflection either on her acting talents or on her glamour quotient. It is gossip around her that keeps the media ready to pounce on her and not the films she participates in. However, all this is going to change post the release of Anik Dutta’s maiden film Bhooter Bhabisyat (The Future of the Past) in which she plays a major role. Bhooter Bhabisyat has been acquired by Databazaar Media for distribution, screening, streaming and telecasting in North America and Canada. The name of Databazaar Media features in the credits of this hilarious take on changes over time in Kolkata seen from the perspective of a gallery of ghosts of all kinds coming from different time periods.
What character have you essayed in Bhooter Bhabisyat?
I play Kadalibala, a noted actress who committed suicide when her paramour ditched her to marry someone else.
Kadalibala? What kind of name is it? Kadali means banana isn’t it?
(Laughs). You are right. Kadali means banana. But this is mentioned in the film itself when the filmmaker within the film (Parambrato) asks Biplab (Sabyasachi Chakraborty), the ghost of a Naxalite leader killed in action in the 1970s, he says, ‘if there can be an actress called Angoorbala, why not Kadalibala? Besides, every art is clubbed under the word ‘kala’ so what is wrong with Kadalibala?’ It is a very funny scene but then, the whole film is funny.
Did you enjoy playing the character?
This film has been one of the most thrilling experiences in my career. Kadali’s character is just like a star – full of nakhras and starry airs. My character, when alive, was a famous film star from the Black-and-White era. But the character did not want to act in films or become a star. She wanted to get married to her lover and lead a family life. She wears a lot of jewellery and expensive saris all the time and sings in the typical nasal tone of the time she belonged to. She even trains a new ghost to perform an ‘item number’ in a strategy to avenge her husband having bumped her off when she was young.
How would you define this very different film?
Bhooter Bhabishyat is a delightful, tongue-in-cheek film about ghosts of different kinds who gather in a haunted house. All the ghosts are in constant fear of being displaced by real estate promoters and land-grabbers. But they have grouped among themselves to have picnics and parties in Darpanarayan Choudhury’s mansion. Darpanarayan’s youngest brother was my paramour.
Do you believe in ghosts?
Difficult question. I do not exactly believe in ghosts but I do believe in some supernatural spirit existing beyond the realm of our six sensations. We shot some parts of the film at the royal palace in Serampore, some distance from Kolkata. We were told that ghosts lurked in nooks and corners of the mansion. But we did not encounter any. If there were ghosts at all, they must have all fled during our stay there. We also shot at the royal palace at Khannan, near Burdwan. There was a toilet in one corner of the terrace with a door that would shut itself from inside. We felt someone was inside it.
Most of your films under production are out-of-the-box roles aren’t they?
I have been in films for more than a decade. Maturity demands that I take on challenging roles. Directors have very unusual scripts with challenging characters for me. It is a good time to explore my capabilities as an actress. I am doing Sougata Roy Burman’s Tabe Tai Hoke, Subrata Sen’s Nondinee, Moinak Bhowmick’s Maach Mishti and More, Debaditya’s Aatta Aaater Bongan Local and Anjan-da’s Abaar Bymokesh in which I have a very important character.