Abir Chatterjee on playing sleuth Dipak Chatterjee for his upcoming release

Shri Swapankumarer Badami Hyenar Kobole will release today
Abir Chatterjee
Abir Chatterjee

What happens when a pulp fiction author and the detective created by him arise from the depths of oblivion to save Kolkata from a lingering terrorist threat? Shri Swapankumarer Badami Hyenar Kobole by Debaloy Bhattacharya, the debut production of Hoichoi Studios, reimagines Swapan Kumar (Paran Bandhapadhyay) and Dipak Chatterjee (Abir Chatterjee) who come together to save the day. Indulge catches up with Abir, who plays the detective and action hero questioning their existence today and saving the day with his perfect sidekick Ratan, as the movie hits the silver screen.

Having played sleuths before, was it easier for you to step into the shoes of Dipak Chatterjee?
Though the film is about Dipak Chatterjee and the mad world of Swapan Kumar, it is written and envisioned by Debaloy Bhattacharya. I tried to follow Debaloy’s vision. I love to take challenges and explore myself as an actor. I am thankful for this completely out-of-the-box and experimental role. How did I differentiate or whether I could, that is up to the audience to decide. I could relate to Dipak’s sentiment, emotion, and the kind of questions he kept asking. For that, I did not have to do any homework because I could understand him.

Out of the sleuths you have essayed, which character was the most fun and which was the most challenging?
The most fun was Dipak Chatterjee and the most challenging was Byomkesh Bakshi as that’s an iconic character. I am a fan of Byomkesh. I am happy and proud that people identify me as Byomkesh Bakshi. Bengalis love thrillers and if they are so fond of them, why were Swapan Kumar and Dipak Chatterjee who used to be cult figures, lost in pop culture? That’s a question we are trying to find out through the film.

You made your OTT debut in the Hindi series Avrodh 2. Can we see you on the regional platform, too?
Nothing on the cards for now.

How do you keep yourself motivated as an actor?
I love the affection I receive from the audience. That is all I thrive for. I feel excited when I get a new character because it’s fortunate that an actor gets to live different lives in a single lifetime. In films, I'm a detective, killer, father, complex or shy character, etc. There is no direct relationship with my audience, but I still get love and affection from them because I understand their expectations. So it’s my responsibility to cater to their demands. Also, my producers and directors should believe that I’m an actor they can trust.

You are collaborating again with Raj Chakraborty and teaming up for the first time opposite Subhashree in Babli…
It is after ten years that I will be collaborating with Raj. The last time we collaborated was for Kathmandu. I have done some excellent work with him, including Bojhena Shey Bojhena, which I feel is one of the most important works of my life. We have done Kanamachi. At that point, nobody could have imagined me in that role. We have done one of the best series ever made, Proloy Ashche. It’s good to come back together. I haven’t done any work with Subhashree, not even an advertisement. So it’s something new. It’s based on a novel by Buddhadeb Guha.

How do you reflect on 2023?
Fatafati did extremely well and raised an important question. I don't know whether that will bring about a change in the mindset of people, but at least the question has been raised . Raktabeej did exceptionally well and is running in prominent movie halls even after 75 days since release. It’s one of the top-rated films. Kabuliwala is a classic I feel needs to be told repeatedly so that we revisit and introspect ourselves. For an actor, it’s like shonawye suhaga. Other films like Biyer Bibrat didn’t have many takers, but I enjoyed the film.

When will we see Sona da again?
I don’t think it will happen anytime soon...I’m not a big fan of franchises. I’m against making a film only because the first film was a super-hit. Franchises are good business, but the kind of expectations Sona da and the franchise have garnered, I think it needs more time.

How is 2024 shaping up for you?
The first release of the year is Shri Swapankumarer Badami Hyenar Kobole. There is Putul Naacher
shot in 2022,  which got rave reviews from IFFI where only a select audience, directors, and critics watched it and gave a go–ahead. There’s Deep Fridge by Arjunn Dutta that also went to IFFI and will be touring some more festivals. Anik Dutta’s Joto Kando Kolkataye has wrapped up the shoot, but dubbing is pending. the characters I’m playing in these films are diverse and different from each other.

Photograph: Pritam Sarkar 

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