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Exclusive! Ritwick Chakraborty: Forget Pathaan, many big Bengali films ousted smaller films from the halls

Before the release of Indranil Roychowdhury’s Mayar Jonjal, the actor talks about his experience

Exclusive! Ritwick Chakraborty: Forget Pathaan, many big Bengali films ousted smaller films from the halls
Ritwick Chakraborty

Last Updated: 11.35 PM, Feb 19, 2023


After Phoring and Bhalobashar Shohor, Mayar Jonjal is the third film in which Rictwick Chakraborty collaborated with director Indranil Roychowdhury. The film which is jointly produced by India and Bangladesh will release on February 24. The film showcases the lesser-explored sides of Kolkata where people struggle to make ends meet. Mayar Jonjal, which also features Chandreyee Ghosh, Aupee Karim, Bratya Basu, Paran Bandyopadhyay, Shohel Mondol, and others, was shot before the pandemic. Now, before the release, Ritwick talks about his experience of working with Indranil, the state of Bengali cinema, and his take on a large number of detective content that are being made in Bengal. Excerpts.

Tell us about your character in Mayar Jonjal.

The name of my character is Chandan Santra, aka Chandu. He used to work in a plastic factory. He lost his job and now he is a security guard at an ATM. He has his family – wife, child, and so on. Evidently, his financial condition is difficult. The main dilemma of this character appears when his wife wants to step out and work to help the family. His male ego gets hurt. There are many other characters in the film. This is Chandu’s crisis.


This is your third work with Indranil Roy Chowdhury. How was your journey with him so far?

Kobida has his style and method. He is very clear about what he wants. He barely says anything during the shoot at the set. However, before the film goes on the floor, he says a lot about the character, his vision, and his requirement. When I watched the film I realised his vision. He shows a Kolkata that we don’t always see on the screen. It doesn’t show the alleys of North Kolkata or Southern Avenue. Rather the expanding Kolkata is captured in his lens. Also, the people we see in Mayar Jonjal are not like us. But we know them closely. They have their share of hope, faith, and aspiration. The film shows how they get entangled in their crisis.

I worked with Kobida in Phoring, Bhalobashar Shohor, and Mayar Jonjal. He is a director who would not cast you unless it is necessary and fits perfectly well with his imagination. In fact, as a maker, he keeps on breaking his mould and presents a different style and language.

A still from the film
A still from the film

Mayar Jonjal is an ensemble cast. What are the things that you keep in mind when you say yes to a project that has an ensemble cast,?

As an actor, I try to understand the character and how important the character is in the scheme of things. The length of the character doesn’t matter. I need to see if the character is important in the story and if it will give me the scope to explore as an actor. Lastly, I would love to see the viewers taking a bit of my character back with them after watching the film. This is more important in a film with an ensemble cast.

What are the other projects you are working on?

I just got back from Sikkim after the shooting of Arindam Sil’s Feluda series Gyangtoke Gondogol for Zee5. Then there is Raj Chakraborty’s Abar Proloy for Zee5 and Hoichoi’s Mr Kolketa, which is directed by Surajit Chatterjee. The shooting of Gora’s second season will start soon.

All of these are web series. In films, I have worked in Rajdeep Ghosh’s Ayu Rekha. Then there is Pritha Chakraborty’s Paharganj Halt.

You will start Gora season two. You just finished working in a Feluda series and you have worked as Ajit. Do you think there is an overload of detective thrillers? Do you think detective characters are extremely coveted by the actors?

I worked as Ajit and I know that more actors played the character of Ajit than Byomkesh (laughs). In my experience, the viewers watch a Feluda and Byomkesh film (or series), even if they don’t like it. They watch it and pan it soon after watching (laughs). Besides Feluda and Byomkesh, other series like Gora or Anirban’s (Chakrabarti) Eken Babu also gained a lot of popularity. There are indeed way too many detective thrillers being made but somehow those are working.

As an actor how easy or difficult is it to juggle between web series and films?

Usually, web series are character driven. Each character gets the scope of a back story, etc. Hence, the scope of performance is definitely stronger on web series than on films. There is no other difference.

Recently, a debate over the distribution and exhibition strategy took place in Bengal after several Bengali films were taken down after Pathaan’s release. What is your take on this?

I think there should be a space for the Bengali cinema. However, it is not just a social media debate in which you take a side. There are instances where big Bengali films ousted smaller films from the halls. It is also about flexing muscles and power. I have worked in 30-40 films and I have seen how the waves of a big film wash out small films. Moreover, the number of halls went down and that too is a problem. There was a time when Phoring faced challenges while releasing. Releasing a film in today’s time is a complex equation and it needs important discussion and debates to find a solution. Today, Marathi films run happily with Hindi films despite sitting right next to the gigantic Hindi film industry. Tamil people watch Tamil cinema without any disturbance and the same is true for many other regional industries.

You have also started a production house and along with Pradipta Bhattacharya, you are now also a producer. How are you enjoying the new role?

Pradipta and I decided to explore this avenue to do things that I could not do due to my acting career and he could not do due to his career as a director and editor. We have certain plans. Our productions were liked by people. Let’s see how it goes.-

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