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Exclusive! Abir Chatterjee on Byomkesh and Dharmajuddha: After the pandemic, we cannot afford to release one film per week

The actor talks about playing Byomkesh, releasing multiple films together and a lot more…

Exclusive! Abir Chatterjee on Byomkesh and Dharmajuddha: After the pandemic, we cannot afford to release one film per week
Abir Chatterjee as Byomkesh Bakshi
  • Shamayita Chakraborty

Last Updated: 04.35 AM, Aug 11, 2022

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Abir Chatterjee is back as truth seeker Byomkesh Bakshi in Arindam Sil’s Byomkesh Hatyamancha. Along with Sohini Sarkar, Paoli, Suhotra Mukhopadhyay and others, the film will hit the theatres on August 11. Before the release, the actor talks about playing Byomkesh, releasing multiple films together and a lot more. Read on…

What are the USPs of this Byomkesh?

First of all, this is an incomplete story by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay. People who read Bishupal Badh know who gets killed. But for the first time, there is a Byomkesh film in which no one knows who the murderer is and what the motive is. In other Byomkesh films, though we make a whodunnit, it turns into a how done in because almost everybody knows the murderer. This is different.

Second, This is the first Arindam Sil’s Byomkesh that is set in Kolkata and not a travelogue. Har Har Byomkesh is set in Varanasi, Byomkesh Pawrbo in Dooars and Byomkesh Gotro in Mussoorie. This one is in Kolkata and the film reflects the socio-political turmoil of the 70s city of joy.

Third, there is a play panning out on stage within the film. So there are stage actors who are acting in cinema and there are other actors. The film also focuses on the theatre scene of Kolkata during that time.

Fourth, for the first time, a murder takes place right in front of Byomkesh. The sleuth feels obligated to solve the case and takes the charge. He knows this crime will be solved by him and he will charge no remuneration.

How do you break the monotony of playing the same character?

The audience mustn't feel the monotony of Byomkesh. Arindam Sil has portrayed each of his Byomkesh very differently than the other. The first one is a romantic Byomkesh on a honeymoon. The second one is a government responsibility. In the third, he is laid back and almost let the crime take place and in the fourth, he is greying, expecting a child, settling down in his own house and so on. He is a tad philosophical in the film.

Abir Chatterjee as Byomkesh Bakshi
Abir Chatterjee as Byomkesh Bakshi

It is often said that the Bengali audience is not watching Bengali films. Do you think it's true? If yes, what are the measures that the industry must take to change things?

There has been a change in the viewing pattern post the pandemic. OTT platforms have emerged as a big players. Many contents are eventually being available on OTT. The platforms also are offering a wide range of options. You can watch content from any country/ province and in any language with subtitles. You don’t have to take the effort to go to a theatre and enjoy almost anything in the comfort of your drawing room. To work in this environment, we will have to offer standard content to our audience. We need to make smarter, edgier products because every other industry is changing too. The viewing pattern and habits are changing. I believe in the magic of cinema. I love the idea of community viewing where we sit next to an unknown person and go through the same emotional ride.

Also, the audience needs to be a little less judgemental. The point is, film, music, and literature are not mandatory for living. One can survive without these things. But that is not a life worth living if that has no entertainment. A couple of films, including Aparajito and Belashuru, did well at the box office recently.

This Byomkesh is made in just two months. Do you think a shorter time can compromise the quality of a film?

This is an exception. Byomkesh films have always maintained a standard and this one will also do so. However, I believe that a film demands a minimum amount of time to be made. This Byomkesh is an exception and should not be the norm. Also, why are we so bothered with the behind the scene issues?

Two big films are getting released on the same date and there is a debate that is going on over the necessity of releasing two big films together…

There are so many films that are yet to be released. After the pandemic, we cannot afford to release one film in one weekend. The audience will get options and we will try to reach out to the audience to build their anticipation and interest.

While your acting has been lauded, Avrodh 2 has received mixed reviews…

I am not aware of mixed reviews. I can’t even give you any idea about critics’ reviews. I got feedback and for Avrodh 2, I got very positive feedback from the audience.

We see you in thrillers more often than any other genre. Is it a conscious call? Does it limit you?

This year I shot five films – one Byomkesh and one Sonada. Besides, I worked in Suman Mukhopadhyay’s Putul Nacher Itikotha, Fatafati and a rom-com. Now, I would be worried about being limited if I would only get an offer for thrillers. As long as I can work in other films, I am cool with it.

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