Actors Abir Chatterjee and Rukmini Maitra get candid about their Diwali release, Switzerland
The actors talk about playing a middle-class couple who dream of going to Switzerland
His last released movie was Asur at the very beginning of this year on January 3 and she was last seen on the big screen in the movie Password that released last Pujas. We are talking about actors Abir Chatterjee and Rukmini Maitra, who will be seen together for the first time in Souvik Kundu’s debut film, Switzerland, that’s running in the theatres starting today. We had a fun chat with the actors about the movie and more. Excerpts:
You are playing husband wife in Switzerland. Can you tell us a little about your roles?
Rukmini Maitra: When I first read the script, I realised it was not a cakewalk for me to do this role, since there was almost nothing relatable with this particular character, Rumi. She is a middle-class wife and a mother of two, who hails from Chandernagore and many warned me against playing such a non-glamourous role at the nascent stage of my career. But I loved the script so much that I said yes.
So, how did you prepare for Rumi?
RM: Well, my director made it clear from the beginning that since Rumi is a middle-class working wife, I have to look natural in all the chores she does early in the morning. She wakes up early, makes breakfast, readies her kids for school and gets ready for going to work, all in a very short span of time. So, I had to actually learn how to cook and how to put clothes to dry, so that I didn’t look amateurish. I even did a workshop with actor Sohini Sengupta and I am happy with the kind of adulation I am getting post the trailer’s release.
Abir Chatterjee: I found the story and its characters very relatable and balanced. There are cinematic and dramatic moments but the film never gets melodramatic. It’s a story of a happy middle-class family, who sacrifices a few things here and there to make their dream of holidaying in Switzerland come true. I think the middle-class audience can very well relate to this story since we all try to adjust in life to achieve our dreams. But there are also moments when values are questioned and we are made to think how far can one go to fulfil dreams without sounding preachy.
How was it working with debutant filmmaker Souvik Kundu?
AC: The best thing about him is that Souvik doesn’t have an intellectual hangover. I think Bengali cinema has forgotten to say things simply, everything has to be intellectually veiled. We often look down upon comedy films, which are actually extremely tough to make. But Souvik has no intellectual pretensions. He is confident and technically strong and open to suggestions.
RM: He has no hang-ups and he is capable of creating magical moments outside the narrative to establish the characters in a very subtle manner.
AC: That’s why I always love to work with newcomers because they bring a lot of passion on the table and I can relate to that since I feel I still have that passion and energy even after ten years.
How does it feel after a decade of being an actor?
AC: I am fortunate to be doing something I love to do. My directors gave me good roles, I did a few iconic characters (Byomkesh and Feluda) and I also got some interesting films my way apart from the franchises.
How was the experience of working with each other?
AC: I was really surprised that she said yes to this film since it’s different than the kind of films she has done so far. It’s great that young actors like her are breaking stereotypes and trying out characters that are much older than their real self. Also, she was so well prepared and thorough and did a workshop. I was really unnerved (smiles).
RM: (laughs) Everyone including my mom told me that I better pull up my socks since I would be working with Abir. He is such a terrific actor and I must match up to him on screen.
AC: And it was the first time in life that I was bullied on set. She is a bigger bully than me on sets (laughs). She is a prankster.
RM: No, Abir is always so serious, so I thought of breaking the ice like that. But on a serious note, he is an amazing actor and a co-star and the equation we built on set, that affection will remain forever.
So are we going to see you together again?
AC: That depends upon Rukmini; she is also a producer after all (both laugh).
What are the other projects in the pipeline?
AC: I just finished filming for Bratya Basu’s Dictionary based on two short stories by Buddhadeb Guha. There’s Indradeep Dasgupta’s Agantuk that is ready for release and Arindam Sil’s Mayakumari. The dubbing for that is left.
RM: My film Kishmish, opposite Dev, was supposed to be shot post puja. It’s a young love story but since the canvas is huge and demands a lot of crowd and grandeur we have decided to shoot next year sometime in March or April.