Indraneil Sengupta talks about playing Feluda, flaunts four looks from Abhishek Dutta's winter edit
Sengupta is the fourth actor to play the iconic sleuth on the big screen
Be it a big role or a small one, actor Indraneil Sengupta makes sure to turn the characters very impressive and memorable. Be it the sensitive and maverick investigative photojournalist in the medical thriller series Human, actor Ajay in Fame Game, Milan Damji in Kahaani, or Pankaj Awasthi in The Broken News, Indraneil’s portrayals are always next to skin with no extra dose of melodrama or heroism. The Mumbai-based actor also has an impressive oeuvre in his mother tongue including the trend-setting film Autograph (Srijit Mukherji’s debut film), Atanu Ghosh’s Angshumaner Chhobi, Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s Janala, Kamaleswar Mukherjee's Uro Chithi, Rituparno Ghosh’s Arekti Premer Golpo, and a series of films based on pulp detective fiction Kiriti.
The former supermodel is in news once again for being the fourth actor to play the iconic sleuth Feluda in Sandip Ray's upcoming winter release Hatyapuri. Created by Satyajit Ray, Feluda’s character has been immortalized on the big screen by none other than Bengal’s most prolific actor, the late Soumitra Chattopadhyay. In fact, the legend goes that Ray, later on, made minimal changes in the sketches of his books to match the looks of Soumitra.
It has always been a matter of great prestige for any actor worth his salt to bag the iconic role and Sabyasachi Chakraborty took the mantle on his able shoulders playing the sleuth with aplomb for several years and bringing a much-welcome rough edge to Feluda’s personality, just as Daniel Craig did to James Bond.
Actor Abir Chatterjee played Pradosh Mitter aka Feluda only once in Badshahi Angti (2014) and now, the baton passes over to Indraneil to lend the much-idolised detective a new dimension and edge. We managed to get hold of the super-busy actor during his short visit to Kolkata and he not only agreed to give us a sneak peek into how he became the sleuth on screen but also happily agreed to pose in four winter jackets from couturier Abhishek Dutta’s extended winter collection for men, Paradoxical, exclusively for Indulge!
Though Feluda has been adapted on television, OTT, and stage, you are the fourth actor to play him on the big screen, does that make you nervous?
Honestly speaking, I consciously did not watch the Feluda movies before my shoot, since I did not want my performance to get even unconsciously affected by the former actors’ portrayals. Since Feluda is a fictional character, apart from the sketches by Ray, the personality has been left completely open to the imagination of the readers. Hence it gives an artiste complete independence to explore the depths and layers at his own will. In fact, the two successful on-screen Feludas – played by Soumitra and Sabyasachi -- are diametrically opposite to each other, and both connected with the audience very successfully.
Thankfully, filmmaker Sandip Ray did not restrict me at all and let me play it freely without any impositions. Before the shoot commenced, I read the entire series over and over again to stay in that mental space. I also read out loud and spoke in Bengali a lot for the past one year to get my accent absolutely perfectly.
But beyond giving my best, I don’t think much or stress myself, since audience's reaction is not in my control – I just hope they appreciate it.
What newness and interpretation of Feluda can we expect from your portrayal?
I personally never felt that Feluda should be an extraordinary person, rather he is a regular person who lives in Kolkata and who could be anyone. He is a very normal man with a cousin (Topshe) and a friend (Jatayu) as constant companions. He is well read, aware of things but not a superman whose entry would turn heads in a room. He is a knowledgeable guy and only when he gets into the cases that his intelligence shines through -- he is not in your face and I have tried to bring that out in him.
I tried to keep him simple and relatable, I have never tried to make him look superior, who shows off.
How was it working with Sandip Ray?
Sandip Ray and his wife are one of the most genuine persons I have ever met, who are shorn of any artificiality and true to their words. He didn’t burden me with any of the stuck-up notions of Feluda. In fact, I think I was more stuck up with the general notion of Feluda since I am today’s guy, a city guy who doesn’t live in Kolkata, who speaks and moves faster than the usual pace prevalent in Bengali culture, which is a little slower in terms of movement. So, I just asked Sandip to ensure I did not slip into my pace. He gave me the liberty to recreate Feluda which was so refreshing.
You have explored all platforms be it television, OTT, or big screen. What has kept you away from the stage?
Stage fright – I am an introvert and I don’t like being in front of people. Many have told me to do stage to get rid of that fright but I am more comfortable working in front of the camera. Even during promotions, I don’t like going in front of people, I can’t keep talking endlessly.
Have you always been like this?
Yes. Since I was born in Guwahati and raised in Ahmedabad, my life has been rich in terms of exposure but I have never solely belonged to one place. I am a loner and I don’t miss people, I never craved them I have no best friend with whom I can share everything. I have a few friends with whom I spend time, get drunk and talk nonsense, but even that’s not a regular affair.
So, how do you like spending time?
I keep watching things and reading books, both fiction and non-fiction of all genres. Now, my intention is to read Hindi literature
How much has life changed you as a person?
I think I have stopped bothering about people, not that I ever bothered too much. But I guess I lived a life that was very correct and though I never craved validation, I always loved being praised and I wanted to be liked. I don’t long for validation anymore. I am still that nice guy but I define that niceness myself and I don’t bother being judged.
The actor Indraneil is very different from the person Indraneil and I like the person more, who is extremely introverted, adjustable, and who is still middle class at heart. I might wear expensive stuff, drive better cars, and travel internationally, but I am still the same middle-class person who doesn’t throw tantrums and exploit people just because you are in a position to do so.
Your upcoming projects?
I just finished shooting for Sudeshna Roy and Abhijit Guha’s Sesh Rokhya and will start shooting for another big Hindi web series sometime in January. I have another upcoming Hindi film Aazam where I play a cop.
Indraneil’s Fashion choices
I don’t like to dress up and I try to avoid occasions where I have to think about my looks. I mostly wear jeans, shorts, t-shirts and chappals. I hate wearing closed shoes and I don’t like tucking in shirts and wearing suits though at times I wear them. I don’t try everything that’s trending but settle for the outfits that suit my persona and age. For weddings, I wear a suit, since it’s the safest option and I’m more comfortable in them than in Indian ethnic wear. You will find a lot of jeans, tees, shorts in monochromes, and erratic quirky prints in my wardrobe. Nowadays, I also love wearing a lot of Bengali kurtas.
Previously I loved all those muscles and built-up looks but now it’s more of a lean athletic and agile body that I work out for. As an actor, I need to have a fit and flexible body and for that, I do a lot of running, body-weight training, and yoga with a little weight training at times.
About the collection: It's a contrast between fluid and structured garments with bright hues and earthy tones and varied use of textures and embroidery. You will find structured jackets made from leather, heavy lines and patchwork among the key silhouettes.
Winter wardrobe essentials: Nice lapel jackets, scarves, hats and definitely boots.