Pariah: Isolating myself to slaughterer role was a challenge, says Soumya Mukherjee

Pariah. Soumya Mukherjee in Pariah | Photo courtesy: Instagram/Soumya Mukherjee


IBNS-CMEDIA: Actor Soumya Mukherjee, who is known for playing romantic roles on-screen, turns a slaughterer (in slaughterhouses) in Tathagata Mukherjee’s Pariah, a campaign against animal cruelty, which releases on February 9. Soumya shares his journey in the film with IBNS correspondent Souvik Ghosh

Q. What was your initial reaction to the script?

A. Pariah is the second film where I have worked with Tatha-da, after Gopone Mod Charan. So he was aware of my work. I always wanted to be back with him. Tatha-da had informed me about the film prior to the scripting. It was an instant ‘yes’ for my side because of the director, trust me. I was sure Tatha-da wouldn’t offer me something not special. My role can’t be put in a bracket.

Soumya Mukherjee | Image by IBNS

Soumya Mukherjee | Image by IBNS

Q. Much like Vikram, your character is also very different from the ones you have played so far. What kind of mental adjustments did you have to do?

A. I have learnt from Tatha-da and my training that physical transformations for any role come much later. It can be handled. But controlling the mind and developing an understanding of the character’s psychology are key. When I get a role, I first try to understand his background. The cosmetic changes come much later.

My character Nanda, the slaughterer, is very complicated. He is a very complex person. I went through a certain isolation during the filmmaking process. It was not a ‘method acting’ though. I completely followed the instructions of Tatha-da. I was served a lot of materials about animal cruelty by Tatha-da.

Q. So you must have been trained to become a slaughterer?

A. Yes, I had to learn it. I used to go to the particular shops and watch how it was done. I used to think what goes on in their minds while they slaughter. It was challenging for me. Isolating myself was a challenge because I have had a social life. After a point, my phone gallery was full of materials related to animal cruelty. Though the character seems very brutal, I used to listen to a lot of peaceful music during that period. I used to meditate. It was a different sort of a process. It was a mixture of watching brutality and feeling a lot of peace within oneself.

Q. How much daily observation helped in building the character?

A. One hundred percent it helped. Initially when I used to visit the shops to do recee, they used to treat me as an actor. So I tried to make friends with them. Then I realised, the slaughterers too are against animal cruelty but they do it for their livelihood. I have even observed a few people listening to Kishore Kumar songs after so much bloodbath due to butchering. I had to reach that mental framework mentally. Learning technique is fine but achieving the mental framework was the bigger job. I had to catch this humane side.

Q. You were noticed and praised by none other than Shah Rukh Khan for your small role in Mrs. Chatterjee vs Norway. Would you like to recollect that moment?

A. It meant the world to me. I am a mad SRK fan. First, one of my friends had conveyed this to me. Initially, I laughed it off. But when I checked it, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I cried. The most important thing was he noticed my work despite not having a lot of screen time in Mrs. Chatterjee vs Norway. He is an inspiration and world to me.