Interview: Actors Anirban Bhattacharya and Tuhina Das get candid about their film, Ghawre Bairey Aaj
From tribal protests to malnutrition to mob lynching and even references to gagging of the press, Aparna Sen’s latest release, Ghawre Bairey Aaj, is replete with all of this and more, and is her most political film so far, by her own admission. A modern take on Satyajit Ray’s cult classic Ghare Baire, which was based on Tagore’s novel of the same name, this film stars Anirban Bhattacharya, Tuhina Das and Jisshu Sengupta in the lead. We caught up with the brilliant actor Anirban and the brightly effervescent Tuhina, to talk about their roles in the film and more. Excerpts from the chat:
Gumnaami is a super success. You simply ruled the screen, that too during the Pujas. How are you enjoying its success?
Anirban Bhattacharya: Seriously, I never expected this huge response. It was a big role, and I am happy that everyone appreciated my work. Now, I am really excited to see how the audience reacts to Ghawre Bairey Aaj because it’s completely different from whatever I have done so far.
It’s filmmaker Aparna Sen’s most political film so far, by her own admission. How was it to play Nikhilesh? AB:
More than getting acclimatised with the movie’s political standing or knowing how much roleplay politics has in this film, it was important to understand the psyche of Nikhilesh, and invade his mind, to get into the skin of the character. The way I think or react is far apart from how Nikhilesh reacts to any situation.
He is the ultimate modern man in the process of evolution, almost utopian. I am a man of moderate resources and talent, who is impulsive, reactive and gets agitated as a human being. Playing Nikhilesh’s character has not only brought me closer to him as a person, but also made me more aware of my shortcomings, which evokes a sense of failure in me — when I can’t deal with a situation in real life, the way he does.
Tuhina, your first lead role, is nothing short of a dream debut. Tell us about playing Brinda...
Tuhina Das: Yeah, and I can’t be more grateful to Aparna Sen for choosing me as Brinda. But before shooting the film, I consciously didn’t watch Satyajit Ray’s classic Ghare Baire again, to refrain from any mannerisms or similarity with Bimala, who was played by Swatilekha Sengupta. As a person, I am very reactive and impulsive like Anirban, and Aparna helped me a lot to become Brinda.
Brinda always led a very cloistered life, being brought up in a girl’s hostel and then being married to a man who is many years her senior. She has never had a taste of the outside world or exposed to romance. Her husband is more of an idol to her, and so when she saw somebody like Sandip (Jisshu Sengupta), she felt drawn towards his impulsive, reactive, aggressive and passionate ways.
How was it to work with two awesome actors like Jisshu and Anirban?
TD: Both are so good, and I had a few very intimate scenes with both of them, but they helped me at every step to make me comfortable.
How is Aparna Sen as a filmmaker?
AB: Before this, I had the privilege to work with her in Arshinagar too, and she’s totally different than others. Her filmmaking structure is old-school, which doesn’t happen nowadays, and the best part about that is investing time in everything — from the sets to casting and to preparing actors thoroughly from dialogue delivery to facial expressions, which no one does now. It’s almost similar to theatre rehearsals. TD: I agree with Anirban word-to-word.
What’s your biggest takeaway from working with Aparna Sen?
AB: That to do something good, you have to invest a good amount of time.
TD: She is so organised and guides you so well that when you act, you are confident of yourself, and you know the character like your skin.
Anirban, among the directors you have worked with so far, including Srijit Mukherji and Arindam Sil, who according to you is the best?
AB: Aparna Sen, of course. She is right there, at the top.
As a political film, how controversial is Ghawre Bairey Aaj?
AB: Controversy in films is a selling point nowadays, and it’s slowly becoming an essential element. But this film was not made focusing on the controversy, rather on the emotional truth of human beings. So, let there be controversies around how truthful the movie is to today’s time, rather than focusing on how controversial the content is. I feel all individuals are institutions to themselves now, in the age of social media, with their own set standards and agenda. Hence, to expect a healthy debate from society, is not worth it nowadays.
After Ghawre Bairey Aaj, how are you planning to take your career forward?
TD: Right now, I am in no position to choose. But if the film clicks, and my work gets appreciated, then I would be happy if a few meaningful roles come my way.
As actors, what have you learnt so far in your acting career?
AB: Work more and talk less — let your work speak.
TD: I am more in control of myself, more patient and less reactive.
There’s a lot of excitement around Srijit Mukherji’s upcoming web series on Feluda, to be played by Tota Roychoudhury. If you ever get to play the character of Feluda, how would you portray him?
AB: If I played Feluda, I would have lent the character a little more shrewdness, and I would have shed a few shades of goodness from his character.
Tell us about your upcoming projects.
AB: I will be starting to shoot for Byomkesh Season 5 based on Dushto Chakra and Khunji Khunji Nari, directed by Soumik Haldar. Here, you will see me playing a more disturbed and vulnerable Byomkesh.