Superstar Prosenjit Chatterjee and filmmaker Srijit Mukherji on their Puja release, Dawshom Awbotaar 

The successful director-actor duo come together for yet another film and open up all about it 
Srijit (L) and Prosenjit from a film still (R)
Srijit (L) and Prosenjit from a film still (R)

Durga Puja, Bengals biggest festival, is synonymous with big ticket film releases and this year too, it’s no exception with four major Bengali films starring top actors releasing in theatres. There’s actor Koel Mallick’s Jongole Mitin Mashi, Shiboporsad Mukherjee-Nandita Roy’s Raktabeej headlined by Mimi Chakraborty, Abir Chatterjee and Victor Banerjee, Dev’s Bagha Jatin and Srijit Mukherji’s Dawshom Awbotaar starring none other than Bengal’s only superstar Prosenjit Chatterjee.

It was the same Srijit-Prosenjit pairing that started the trend of Puja film releases with their first film together, Autograph, way back in 2010. Since then, the duo has given massive Puja box office hits year after year including Baishe Srabon, Mishawr Rohoshyo, and Gumnaami. This year too they have created a whole new cop universe with this gripping prequel to Vinci Da and Baishe Srabon by tracing the back story of iconin cop Probir from Baishe Sarbon and pitting him against Poddar from Vinci Da played ably by Anirban Bhattacharya.

We get on a chat with Srijit and Prosenjit to get the details of the same.

How excited are you for getting to play the iconic cop Prabir again?

Prosenjit: I was feeling for quite a few years that Bengali film songs during the Pujas were getting lost somewhere. Our films like Autograph and Baishe Srabon which brought a whole new set of young audience to the multiplex had very good songs in them and now, Srijit, Anupam, SVF and I are back again with something that will thrill the audiences with a great plot and good music.

Srijit, music has always been an integral part of all your movies…

Srijit: Yes, there is a huge role of music in my films and I think both music and dance are an integral part of cinema in our Asian subcontinent though in the West it’s a little looked down upon. But I’ve never cared. There are festivals where they would select my films provided that I edited the songs out but I always refused since this is me and this is how I make films. And since music forms a big part of my films, composer singer Anupam Roy has been a huge part of that process including Autograph, Baishe Srabon, Chatushkone, Uma, Vinci Da, Zulfikar and Dwitiyo Purush.

This time too, you will see a great curation of music in Dawshom Awbotaar.

Tell us a little about Prabir’s character.

Prosenjit: It’s a cult character and that he would be back on screen again I never could have imagined, since he killed himself in Baishe Srabon. But I always goaded Srijit to write another role like Prabir Roy Chowdhury for me. But Prabir is unique and it can be safely said that Prabir definitely features among the top 10 popular Bengali film characters ever and it took Srijit 12 years to make Prabir return to big screen. But since Prabir is such an icon and so larger than life, bringing him back was exciting and challenging as well.

I always say it’s very difficult to do a prequel and for this film in particular I had to turn back clock in terms of my looks 20 years back and had to keep pace with Anirban (playing Poddar) who is half my age physically, mentally and energy wise, which isn’t a very easy job at 61. Kolkata just celebrated my 61st birthday.

Srijit: Yes it’s difficult indeed but on the day of look set when  he entered the set as Probir Roy Chowdhury from 20 years back we couldn’t believe our eyes and that’s only possible because of his dedication and discipline.

Prosenjit: I always take 3 months’ time to prepare for any character and stay away from everyone. Then I emerge as the character in front of my team. This time too my team stood and clapped. I always believe that if my team gets shocked and impressed by my appearance, the audience would love it too.

It was also challenging for me. I had to mentally turn the clock back and retrace Prabir’s story. This film is the origin story like a Batman Begins where you go back and learn how the phenomenon called Prabir happened, his journey, process, trials and tribulations. We trace the a period when he got embroiled in a court case for killing somebody in his custody which is referred to in Baishe Srabon, and his final conviction and suspension till the point where Baishe Srabon begins. So, we see Probir in this period and DCDD Poddar from Vinci Da joins in as a greenhorn fficer. It’s the Prabir-Poddar pairing that is the USP of the film and their onscreen chemistry is unbelievable.

How was it working with Anirban?

Prosenjit: Oh, he is a fantastic actor and I want Srijit to shoot another film with Anirban and me soon. Working with Ritwick or Anirban is tough as they are today’s actors with different perception of the language of cinema, their expressions are different and the choreography of scenes have changed. But what I appreciate about them is that surprisingly they have immense respect for the old commercial Bengali cinema.

Having said that, Anirban’s acting language is so different that it kept me on my toes.

Srijit: As an actor, Prosenjit was always on his toes when Anirban was around and vice versa and the film won since Prabir and Poddar in their bid to show one-upmanship, came across beautifully.

Will we see you and Prosenjit do something together in the OTT space?

Srijit: We have set such high expectations in terms of characters that I can’t go to him with just any character.

After the series Jubilee, the entire Bengali industry is looking up to Bumbada (Prosenjit’s nickname) to lead the revolution and I’m sure he will succeed.

Prosenjit: We r trying to take Bengal to Mumbai, we have been creating pan-India content for years now, but sadly, we haven’t marketed them well because we come from  Ray-GhatakSen gharana and were always confident of our rich content.

Srijit: Our films are not physics law-defying, larger than life mass entertainers. That might work much better because they cater to a larger audience but we stuck to our signature and that’s why actors like Bumbada, Parambrata, Saswata, Swastika, Paoli and others are ruling the OTT space in Mumbai.

How tough is the audition process there?

Prosenjit: I’m not asking for work, if there’s something good they will come to me.

I’m not representing Prosenjit there, I’m representing 100 filmmakers who have given me space for 40 years, so I have to keep that in mind. We are marketing the overall industry and our unique content and not our individual self.

Srijit: I’m very happy doing Bengali content. An actor I would say is still in a better position because for a director, if stakeholders are more in numbers, opinions and interference are more and it becomes very difficult to work in a space with lot of interference. I can take a lot of opinion but final word has to be that of a director’s. The films I make have to be on my own terms.

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