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Actor Anirban Bhattacharya reveals about playing the lead character in upcoming docu-feature 'Dhananjoy'
On August 14, in the year 2004, the country woke up to the news that Dhananjoy Chatterjee had been hanged after completion of his trail and imprisonment that lasted 14 years for the rape and murder of a teenage school girl Hetal Parekh.

He is the only person in the twenty-first century to have been sent to the gallows for a crime not related to terrorism. There are too much bustles in national media regarding Dhananjoy's being guilty or not.

After over a decade having passed since Dhananjoy's hanging, Bengali film-maker Arindam Sil is making a docu-feature 'Dhananjoy' which will hit the silver screens on August 11, this year. Acclaimed Bengali actor Anirban Bhattacharya is playing 'Dhananjoy' in reel life. Let's have some discussion with him on what he feels about the verdict and more.

Q: In 2004, when Dhananjoy Chatterjee was hanged, a punch line went viral which said, "Dhora porle Dhananjoy; Na porle enjoy". If I'm not wrong it must have reached you too. You were 18 then, and now you are here in front of me playing Dhananjoy on-screen. So, how is the feeling?

A: Yes, the line reached me like everyone. But then for me there was no reason to hear or discuss the matter. I was just 18 and a schoolboy then. It was not possible for me to know the facts. But I am 30 now and above all, in 2004, I had no generic identity and now am an actor. It shows that how the life of an actor changes.

Q: What do you think about that verdict?

A: Basically, as an actor it doesn't make any difference at all that what I am thinking. But there is definitely a choice for an actor whether to take part in research work of the film or not. Otherwise, he can be part of the movie just following the director's brief. I was the part of the research work intentionally. But, screenplay or director's view is the ultimate thing. I think every actor should be a slave to screenplay. But at the end of the day, it totally depends on the motion of screenplay. If it says that the second perspective is more powerful, then it is and if it points that the second perspective is not so strong then it is that.

Q: 'Dhananjoy' is your third time collaboration with Arindam Sil. We have seen you in 'Eagoler Chokh' and after that you have done a very small character in 'Durga Sahay'; which might have been rejected by other prominent actors. But you took the role. Is this because of the name Arindam Sil?

A: To some extent. Though the character was small in 'Durga Sahay' but there was ample scope to portray my potentiality. It was also very funny to me that a person who had cast me in an urban character earlier, was offering me a role of a town-side dacoit in 'Durga Sahay'. It means that he was pouring his faith in my acting capability and I should take this opportunity as a challenge and I did it. In fact, I enjoy small roles if the character sounds interesting to me. And I want to say one thing, before the casting of many pivotal characters, Arindam Da told me that the role of the dacoit will be mine. Somehow, I realised that when Arindam Da writes his screenplay, he looks for a role, and it may be small, which he can offer to me. I feel fortunate. I enjoyed doing the character and a creative understanding with Arindam Da. I feel same for theatre also but none have actually offered me even a small role in theatre.

Q: We have seen lots of directors in world cinema repeat the same cast in their movies. I wanted to know it from you because you have also directed theatre plays. Is there any comfort zone between both that leads to repetition?

A: Actually everyone likes to stay in their comfort zone. The relationship between a director and his actor is like the relationship between husband and wife, which becomes stronger day by day. And as you mentioned the world cinema, yes, it is a fact that from legends like Tarkovsky to Kurosawa; Satyajit Ray to Bergman, and even in recent times Christopher Nolan have repeated their cast again and again. On the other hand, Steven Spielberg rarely repeats his cast. If you go through our industry you will see that from Srijit Mukherji to Kaushik Ganguly more or less try to maintain the same team and it's all for the comfort.

Q: Do you feel the same comfort with Suman Mukherjee or Sudeshna Roy-Avijit Guha as you have done couple of projects with them also?

A: I have spent a long span of time with Laal Da (Suman Mukherjee), though I have worked only in theatre with him. But our relationship is beyond our work, we have very good personal bonding too. I have done two back to back projects with Rana Da (Avijit Guha)-Sudeshna Di but after that I have done so many different kinds of characters. So, if I will do work again with them, the understanding level needs to be revived a little.

Q: As you have a national scholarship in physical acting. How does it help you in your reel and stage journey?

A: According to me, acting is always physical. Though there are so many misconceptions about physical acting. The main fact is you can't act except your physique. Generally people want to act within their physical comfort zone but I am more interested to explore the unknown zone of my physique at the time of acting.

Q: Is it called method acting?

A: It's up to you. If you wish you can. Basically, method acting has given the main attention on psyche. There are different kinds of method acting. But most acceptable is the one Konstantin Stanislavski and his team Moscow Art Theatre, who came from Moscow to America to perform Chekov's "Ten Fundamentals" showcased.An American young boy Lee Strasberg who went there to see the play wondered how is it possible to perform like thee! Is it also a form of acting? Then he created a new module and started implementing that in his acting studio. This module becomes method acting but anyway it is more Western. As in India, method acting is 'Kathakali' but everyone is following the Western format so too in other parts of the world.

Q: In recent times, no other docu-feature has created so much bustle like 'Dhananjoy' including 'Main Aur Charles' which was based entirely on the prince of crime Charles Shobhraj. Is this because Dhananjoy got punishment as a rapist cum murderer of a teenage girl? Does it portray a kind of hidden voyeurism of our society?

A: I am countering the word 'hidden'. I think that the voyeurism in us is very open and recently it has become a very in thing too. In my opinion, as you said a teenage girl was raped and finally died; that shook the society most at that time. Now a few people are saying things remembering that shock, few are acting as this is their democratic right to do so. Some people are talking after watching the trailer that the film is probably going to glorify the character Dhananjoy. If you go a couple of months back, there had been a big release 'Raees' where Shah Rukh Khan played an anti-social but the film earned crores at the box office.

Q: But 'Raees' also created lots of negative buzz on social media before its release…

A: But people watched the film finally and that's why it earned crores. And honestly, I am not interested in what people are saying about vice and virtue. As a social being, I have realised that in any kind of sensitive issue, we must negate all the bubbles coming out from the chaos. I don't give this a damn.

Q: Then what do you believe?

A: My way is very simple. As a rational human being, please think of it as an individual, and then learn something more about it. If you have any limitations, discuss it with the person who is authentic in your sense.

Q: It this a resurrection period of Bengali films towards cultural globalisation. And you are obviously one of the prominent faces of it. How do you relate with it?

A: I think the change that is happening is for the sake of betterment. I am very happy that I came into this field of art in this era rather than in the 90's. For those who are keen to do some good work or learn as much as they can like me, it's the best time.

Q: When will I get an opportunity to interview Anirban, the director?

A: I am not thinking about film direction, at least for the time being.But theatre is in my mind and I want to direct a new play every year. Actually, I have some sort of knowledge and a sense of direction when it comes to theatre, as I have personally been involved with the medium for 13 long years. But I haven't had proper learning and nor am I well versed with film making technicalities. There are so many things to explore in theatre direction. That's why, when I will feel that I have explored enough, I will think of film direction. Or you can say when I will feel confident enough to control the entire unit, only then will I go behind the camera.

Q: How is 'Sangharam Hatibagan'?

A: Very fine. Recently we have done two Polish theatre plays. We are presently looking for a big garage in Kolkata where we can perform twice a month and people can connect. We have so many auditoriums but their approach towards thespians is generally like that they are dealing with some criminals.

Q: Now cineplays on online platforms are gaining popularity. Are there any possibilities of Bengali theatre going online?

A: It will not work, I think. Theatre is a live medium and you have to step out of your house to watch it. Theatre will not be home delivered. If you shoot a theatre with 70 cameras then also you will fail to do so.

Q: What do you think is the way to save the industry?

A: If I maintain my honesty then I must say that films and theatre have surrendered themselves to temporal grid. Whereas, painting and literature have refrained. So, if you want to save a marginal art like theatre you have to be arrogant and simultaneously utterly confident about your work.

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