‘For a change, I played a character who resembles me in Kaushik Ganguly’s ‘Palan’, says Paoli Dam

Paoli Dam. Photo courtesy: Facebook/Paoli Dam


IBNS: Actress Paoli Dam is one of the leads in Kaushik Ganguly’s ‘Palan’, which pays a birth centenary tribute to late Mrinal Sen with the reprise of the roles from the filmmaking legend’s 1982 film ‘Kharij’. Ahead of the September 22 release, IBNS correspondent Souvik Ghosh catches up with Paoli on her debut project with Kaushik Ganguly and more at Tapaste – The Spanish Cafe in Kolkata


Q. How much did ‘Kharij’ impact influence your acting in ‘Palan’?

A. No it didn’t because my character, Paoli (Paoli Sen), is Kaushik-da’s (Kaushik Ganguly) creation. Though the characters of Anjan-da (Anjan Dutt) and Mama-di (Mamata Shankar) were also created by Kaushik-da, the essence came from ‘Kharij’. So I didn’t feel any stress in that way. But I had a challenge to prove myself since it was my first film with Kaushik-da.

Q. Why did it take so long to work with Kaushik Ganguly?

A. I think everything has its own time. Nothing happens before its time. But it is better late than never. I am also happy that it has happened through ‘Palan’, which is a very important film in our present time, and talks about the modernisation of our basic lives in every aspect. So there are a lot of expectations involved with this project. 

Paoli Dam (L) and Kaushik Ganguly (R) Paoli Dam (L) and Kaushik Ganguly (R)

Q. How was working with Kaushik Ganguly?

A. It was brilliant. I went with the flow. We actors have to go with a certain process and calculations in playing various roles. But to play Paoli Sen, I opted to go with instincts. I wanted to see what comes out of it. Kaushik-da’s direction is divine. He is very calm and knows what he needs from which actor.

Q. How different is Paoli Sen in ‘Palan’ from the characters you have played earlier?

A. The flavour of the character is very sweet and simple. So far, I have mostly played complex characters with a lot of layers. Actually, I love to experiment with a certain type of characters and their mindsets and psyche, which we do not get a chance to work on in films often. But Paoli in ‘Kharij’ is a simple thinking and simple living woman, who is very rare in today’s time. I found it very refreshing to play her.

Q. Paoli Sen is a breath of fresh air for actor Paoli Dam, can we safely say that?

A. Yes, of course. There is a space for simplicity also. I could relate to Paoli (Paoli Sen) a lot because I am a person who likes to solve problems. I can’t keep on living with problems. It may be a fact that I like to play complex, grey characters because I am not the one in real life (laughs). Paoli Sen, I feel, a lot like Paoli Dam. 

Q. Your body of work is a big highlight of parallel cinema. How do you view the transformation of parallel cinema over the years?

A. I think the demarcation no longer exists. We no longer call it parallel cinema, which itself is an achievement. The parallel and mainstream films have merged somewhere. Nowadays mainstream films are also dealing with subjects which were earlier used to be exploited mostly in parallel cinema.

Q. Do you think parallel cinema reaching out to the masses leads to the rise of mediocrity?

A. I don’t believe it. I don’t believe in mediocrity in that sense as well. I feel film, be it mainstream or not, can be of good content. By mainstream, I mean whether the film is larger-than-life content or not. I think rich content can be made even in mainstream films.

Q. After working on OTT for years, how are you choosing scripts now?

A. It is the most strenuous process, too much brainstorming (laughs). In terms of mediocrity, we are reliant on old literature. We should work on contemporary subjects as well. Overall, there has to be a growth in all spaces, not just in cinema. Now, a stagnancy is bound to come in any space.

It is true that the strike rate of superlative scripts which were being offered to me earlier has fallen. Now I will opt for the best of the scripts offered to me. I may go for other scripts only if it brings a lot of money (laughs). Film is my ‘bread and butter’ for me, there is nothing to shy away from it.

(Photo courtesy: Facebook/Paoli Dam)