It’s completely a mad-mad world of Swapankumar, that’s why it was very exciting: Abir Chatterjee

Abir Chatterjee (L) with Shruti Das (C) and Debaloy Bhattacharya (R) | Photo courtesy: Avishek Mitra/IBNS

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IBNS: Actor Abir Chatterjee, a famous onscreen sleuth in the Bengali films, plays long-forgotten detective Dipak Chatterjee created by pulp-fiction writer Shri Swapankumar in Debaloy Bhattacharya’s Shri Swapankumarer Badami Hyenar Kobole, which will mark Hoichoi Studios’ maiden feature film. Ahead of the January 12 release, Abir speaks to IBNS correspondent Souvik Ghosh on the film…

Q. How was the exploration of Swapankumar’s world?

A. It’s completely a mad-mad world of Swapankumar and that’s why it was very exciting. I thank Debaloy, his team and Hoichoi Studios for venturing with something completely new and experimental. Debaloy is known for his out-of-the-box concepts. Though I never read Swapankumar, I was aware of the popularity of the world of wild imagination. It was quite exciting because it didn’t match with any of my previous films and characters. I was very excited and kicked.

Q. Since you have featured in a number of detective films, what kind of adjustments did you have to make for Shri Swapankumarer Badami Hyenar Kobole?

A. Actually I want my audience to tell me that. I am very proud and happy of the fact that I have played some iconic sleuths in Bengali literature and cinema. Dipak Chatterjee and Swapankumar also belong to popular Bengali literature but we don’t discuss them. We tried to find that answer in the film. Now talking about playing sleuth, the trailer gives a sneak peek into what we are trying to say or find out in the film.

Q. Do you feel not reading texts helps in the performance of an actor?

A. It can be seen in two ways. It is good if the text is read but if not, one can follow the script. I had read about Swapankumar and Dipak Chatterjee but not the books. In the film, I fully believed Debaloy since it was his vision. The film is completely Debaloy’s visualisation of Swapankumar and Dipak Chatterjee’s world.

Q. What more can the audience expect apart from the exploration of the world of Swapankumar and Dipak Chatterjee?

A. Yes, it is not just an exploration but we have tried to raise a lot of questions which often come to mind. The feeling of pulp and the madness was tried to be brought to the big screens. I have tried to explore the need for Dipak Chatterjee at the present moment through Debaloy’s interpretations of the world.

Q. Why do you feel the pulp fiction is missing?

A. We didn’t want to give much importance to pulp fiction because we Bengalis take pride in our cultures. When I say Bengalis, I don’t discount myself. So we ignore mainstream or subaltern things. But if we see through their lens, we are marginals. The marginalisation of the mainstream has always been there and cinema too felt an impact.

Q. Did you hesitate before opting for another detective film since you often feature in such roles?

A. I think the audience can figure out the reason behind opting for this film only after watching it.

Q. Kabuliwala is receiving an overwhelming response. How would you react to it?

A. It is great to see a film that is praised by the critics, loved by the audience and doing well in the box office. It’s a great scenario to be in. For Kabuliwala, I feel Tagore only deserves the credit for saying certain things which are still relevant. Moreover, Tagore said it in simple terms. Certain relationships and emotions are beyond time, borders and religion and this is highlighted by Kabuliwala. I have always felt these stories should be told frequently to remind us all about our basic emotions. So I was never surprised by Suman-da’s decision to make a film on Kabuliwala.

Q. You have played four diverse roles within a year! This is something to cheer about.

A. I thank all directors and producers for entrusting me with different characters. Even the same production houses have kept faith in me casting in two consecutive films. People will say things but I can only work with utmost dedication and hard work. I feel happy about getting these opportunities but at the same time, I understand the responsibilities to evolve and explore more.