The actor spoke to us exclusively about his character in the show, Dipak Kumar, his experience of working with Sudhir Mishra’s take on left politics in India, and how Pathaan is a majestic comeback of Shah Rukh Khan. Read on…
Parambrata Chatterjee’s busy schedule continues even in 2023. The actor-director, who was shooting in Gangtok for Arindam Sil’s Feluda, has flown down to Mumbai for the promotion of SonyLiv’s Jehanabad – a dark thriller that has Sudhir Mishra as the showrunner. Directed by Rajeev Barnwal and Satyanshu Singh, the show also features Ritwick Bhowmik, Harshita Gaur, Rajat Kapoor, and others. The show will be premiered on February 3. Before leaving for Gangtok again, Parambrata spoke to us exclusively about his character in the show, Dipak Kumar, his experience of working with Sudhir Mishra’s take on left politics in India, and how Pathaan is a majestic comeback of Shah Rukh Khan. Read on…
Tell us about your character, Dipak Kumar…
Dipak Kumar is one of the most coveted, sought-after, and deadly Naxal leaders. He is well-read and well-versed. He went to a prestigious university. He was a bright student. His knowledge expands from Venezuelan politics to the football world and a lot more. He is an authority on national economics. However, he grew up in a small village where he saw injustice against the lower caste. He saw how upper-caste people oppressed the lower-caste people in his village. He believes in an armed struggle against this oppression. He is a frontline Naxal commando. And a coveted catch for police.
As it seems, the character ticks all the boxes of a copybook ultra-left leader we grew up reading…
It is, yes. The people who made the show are all from Bihar. They all have a very clear understanding of reality. Rajeev Barnwal, who wrote the character, was a journalist. In Bengal, Bihar, and Jharkhand, stories of certain Naxal movements became part of their urban folklore. I am told the actual real-life character of Dipak (changed name in the show) was very close to the reel character.
Sudhir Mishra’s interpretation of the radical left has been very different from the other Indian filmmakers. Do you agree?
Interestingly, in Jehanabad, Sudhir sir is a showrunner. The story, script, and everything else are penned by Rajeev Barnwal and Satyanshu Singh. Sudhir sir’s credibility and experience helped Jehanabad. He came a number of times on the set but those were not the time I was shooting. However, I was shooting with Sudhir sir in his film at the same time in Malihabad and we spoke about Jehanabad a lot. The two projects almost coincided. I see Sudhir sir as a conscious, sensitised, and aware human being. He was a part of the arthouse movement, he has been very close with the Bengali filmmakers. He went to FTII, which is a left-leaning campus. Hence, his idea on the left movement in the country is far clearer than many people’s. He has a very clear understanding of the lefts, centre lefts, and so on.
Meanwhile, the entire country is seeing a Pathaan wave. Did you get time to watch the film?
No, not yet. But I will be watching it soon.
Do you think Pathaan has somewhat managed to shut the boycott gang?
This is what I think of Pathaan: The way the film was released seems to be a well-calculated and strategised plan for the comeback of the biggest star of our generation. It is planned in a way that every step helps the comeback and I think it has not only shut the so-called ‘boycott gang’ but also brought the #boycottPathaan calls in favour of the film. From social media to mainstream media and every single plan has been brilliantly executed. It is not the first time such a fantastic marketing plan has been taken. In the case of Pathaan, it worked perfectly well. We will have to remember that it was a comeback of not just anyone but India’s biggest global icon from the entertainment industry.
Meanwhile, Pathaan has stirred another controversy in Bengal. It is that Pathaan’s distributors forced exhibitors to give all shows to Pathaan and as a result, the Bengali films are sidelined. Your take…
I think even this controversy is going in favour of Pathaan. Every time we say and write about Pathaan, it is good for the film. Meanwhile, this is not the first time it is happening. Earlier, production houses of several other films also had a similar policy. Pathaan is not the first one. Perhaps some South films had the same policy too. It is a distribution strategy and it involves money. It is an unfair practice. But if you want to build a movement around it, stop blaming only Pathaan. There is a big production house in Bengal that pulled unfair marketing strategies on others. Everyone does it when in power. If you want to build this movement, you might need a government policy for that. However, that is also not very easy. There are taxation and revenue involved. There are federal taxation policies etc.
Also, if we have a policy to show a Bengali film at a prime time every day, can we ensure to make a Bengali film that will help exhibitors to make money? There are states where you have a policy of showcasing regional films at theatres. Can we produce Bengali films of that standard? Exhibitors might just come and complain that we are not getting enough viewers for Bengali films. One Projapati is there but what about other films? How many hit films do we make? If we get into a debate about commercials, it might become a difficult one.
Do you think the drastic fall in the number of theatres is also responsible for this mayhem?
I don’t think so. The shutdown of single screens is a nationwide phenomenon. It is happening everywhere – the big 1200-1500 seaters are being pulled down and smaller screens are created. We have seen many such single screens made into multiscreen theatres even in Bengal.