The fine arts grad who impressed in Ray and Paatal Lok, Anindita Bose shares the high points of her acting journey and her plans for the future in an exclusive interaction with OTTplay
Basking in the success of Ray, her latest Netflix release and ahead of her next, Murder in the hills, a Bengali thriller helmed by Anjan Dutt, actress Anindita Bose feels that it’s an acknowledgment of her decade-long-career. “It only hit me that I had worked on a Satyajit Ray adaptation when the trailer released and the buzz started. It has been surreal since,” she says.
Bose’s decision to dive into Ray was fuelled by her love for the filmmaker’s works. She explains, “I am a huge fan of his ideology and style. I remember watching an interview where he said that when his cinematographer requested for an extra shot, he decided to learn how to shoot himself since the film was expensive to spare.” The 35-year-old further adds how the Bengali auteur also plunged into composing music and even sketched the storyboards for his shots himself, only since “he craved a certain precision which could be achieved if he learned to do it himself”.
Bose admits that while she routinely watched Ray’s films such as Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne and Sonar Kella during most of her summer holidays in school, it was only after she was offered a part in the Netflix anthology that she took to reading the short stories written by him. “I began watching his other films when I moved to Kolkata and I started working.” Her favorite to this day happens to be Aranyer Din Ratri, while Nayak and Apur Sansar follow next. “He thought way ahead of his time. If someone watches Nayak now, it is pretty applicable to the narcissistic things that happen to an actor. And Aranyer Din Ratri accurately showcases that particular Satyajit Ray specialty of bringing out the loneliness of the character. The entire transformation without the unnecessary drama is brilliant,” says Bose.
The actress, who previously collaborated with her Ray director Srijit Mukherji in Hemlock Society, says that while she’s known the filmmaker for a decade, he has evolved with time. “When I worked with him on Hemlock Society, his approach was very different. He is always extremely sure of what he wants but he was still new at what he was doing back then. Now, following a string of hits and even National award-winning films, he has evolved. He is well-read and has an informed opinion on everything. This is helpful for an actor because you can always reach out to him,” she says.
Born and raised in Mumbai, Bose, a JJ College of Arts grad, was skeptical of a career in performing arts initially and had planned to take on gigs in production design. But when she cracked a chance to audition for a minor part in the TV show Bou Kotha Kao (2009), it led to a whole new career and a string of roles in Bengali shows, films and music videos followed. She returned to Mumbai five years ago when she felt she had populated her filmography with a dozen Bengali films and shows and was keen to try her luck in Hindi films. “I started meeting casting directors and actors to understand the buzz of the Hindi film industry which is completely different from the Bengali film industry. One doesn’t audition in Kolkata, if you are up for the role, they take you. I’ve never had to audition for anything I’ve done in Kolkata,” says the actress who made her web series debut with Thinkistan (2019). Shows such as Skyfire (also starring Prateik Babbar), Paatal Lok and Mafia followed.
From the articulate Sharmishta in Thinkistaan to the feisty Chanda Mukherjee in Paatal Lok, Bose has straddled a range of characters with equal flourish. “My approach to a character varies for each project. The process we go through is what we, as actors, have to adapt to. We have to absorb everything like sponges. I don't prepare too much before I go into a role. I constantly quiz my directors about the character, the look and the mannerisms. In Sharmishta’s case, what kind of colors does she wear, and how does that reflect on her as a person? In Chanda’s case, it was Sudeep and Avinash, and Prosit (creators of Paatal Lok) who were extremely sure about how much they wanted the audience to understand Chanda. They always told me the character is not a cunning or bechara woman, she comes from a lower-middle-class family and wants to get to the top but not by all means. These were the instructions I got, to keep my character in a very grey zone. Having shared my first scene with Jaideep (Ahlawat), he immediately put me at ease. He is such an amazing human being apart from being a brilliant actor,” she explains.
Speaking about Paatal Lok, the actress shares an anecdote from her first day on set, when she was shooting a scene in a hotel room - “It was a tough scene to start with. I was working with these stalwarts but was made to feel like one of them. The scene required me to be just in my lingerie, but I didn’t feel uncomfortable even for a second. The entire credit goes to the casting team and Jaideep. Every time that I had to do my scene, I’d drop the bedsheet and just when the director would say cut, Jaideep would just pick up the chaddar and wrap me up in it. I wish I had more days with them, I wish my character was a little longer just so I could spend more time with my costars.”
Another milestone in Bose’s career was getting a chance to work on a show helmed by the late filmmaker Ritaparno Ghosh. The TV tribute to Rabindranath Tagore, Ghosh’s Gaaner Oparey. She fondly remembers how Ghosh nurtured her skills and even got her to pick up new ones. “My character of Jhinuk Sanyal was exactly how Ritu Da (Ghosh) wanted it to be. He wanted me to work on my Bangla diction and make my acting process seem natural. I attended workshops where I had to read out my lines till he was convinced with my Bangla diction,” says Bose, who was never formally trained in acting and considers her directors to be her gurus.
The actress remembers her biggest fan moment when she got to share the screen with the late actor Soumitra Chatterjee for the musical short film Saiyaan by Abhiroop Basu. “The film starred Gaurav Chakraborty, Soumitro Jethu (Chatterjee), Lily Mashi (Chakraborty) and I. I just had one shot with him (Chatterjee) but distinctly remember behaving as cool as possible while I was constantly thinking ‘Oh my God, this is Aranyer Din Ratri’s Asim, this is Feluda in front of me’. The moment the director said action, the way he reacted made me realize how well he knows what the audience wants,” says Bose.
Speaking of original works and audience perceptions, Bose feels adaptations must do justice to the original work, “I feel when you idolize someone who has influenced you for such a long time, you tend to aspire to be like that. For example, I have been a huge admirer of Madhuri [Dixit] since my childhood. At some point, I may subconsciously want to be like her. That is my way of showing how much she means to me. I felt that Ray was a great tribute. The other option is to realize someone’s take of the Ray story. It’s art at the end of it. We can look at an abstract painting in 10 different ways. Someone might cry looking at it, someone would not understand it at all. After all, filmmaking is also art at the end of the day.”
When quizzed about her forthcoming venture, Murder in the Hills, the actress says she accepted the film just when filmmaker Dutt approached her with the script. “I immediately loved the story and it was unlike anything he has done before,” says Bose, who will be collaborating with the filmmaker for the second time after Saheber Cutlet. “He can beat 100 of us when it comes to being energetic. How he does it at this age I don’t know. I hope at his age I can do half of what he does. He keeps things natural and believable and hence his films are relatable,” she says about the 68-year-old filmmaker, actor and singer. Bose remembers shooting for the murder mystery in Darjeeling to be like “a party every day”. “We would end our daily shoot with a cup of hot chocolate or coffee and pastries,” she shares.
Her best work to date, she promises, is yet to come. An untitled project that she’s presently working on is slated to release by the end of this year. “I can’t talk about it yet but it’s surely something that’s very close to my heart,” she signs off.
Photos: Anindita Bose