The actress opens up about her relationship with her boyfriend Riddhi Sen and his family, her artistic journey, and her experience of working with Anirban Bhattacharya.
Anirban Bhattacharya’s Ballabhpurer Roopkotha will mark Surangana Bandyopadhyay’s first film as the female lead. The actress, who started her career with small characters in films and television, emerged as a serious actress in Anindya Chatterjee’s 2015 comedy-drama Open Tee Bioscope. With her career in theatre with Swapnasandhani, Surangana honed her craft. Actress-painter-musician Surangana is very excited about Anirban’s upcoming horror comedy that will be released on October 25. In a candid chat with OTTPlay, she opens up about her relationship with her boyfriend Riddhi Sen and his family, her artistic journey, and her experience of working with Anirban. Read on…
How did the offer come to you?
I think I was one of the last people to be taken in the film. One of the ADs in the project, Aritra Pritam, called me and asked if I would be interested in working on a film that is directed by Anirbanda. Even before knowing that mine is the lead character of the film, I said yes. I know Anirbanda as an actor and as a person and I was absolutely sure that whatever he would do, it would be fantastic. Aritra Pritam sent me a couple of lines and asked me to read them, record it and send the recording to them as an audition. There were many other contenders for the role before I was selected. And I am definitely the youngest on the team (laughs).
How is Anirban as a director?
Anirbanda is a perfectionist. He is extremely focused on every detail of a frame. And there is no way you can cheat Anirbanda. He himself is a great actor and as a result, he just knows what he wants from his actors. In our workshops, he explained the heart and soul of the character to me. And he also gave me the artistic liberty that I wanted. I could only attend three workshops as I was juggling between my exams and Hamlet (Swapnasandhani play) rehearsals. Finally, my character became a blend of what Anirbanda wanted and my presentation.
What was his brief to you?
The name of my character is Chhanda Halder and she is the daughter of a rich businessman. Anirbanda said my character will be like a heroine from the 60s – a little like Sharmila Tagore. Chhanda is hopelessly romantic and has her universe. She is different from me.
This is your first film as a lead and one of the very few films where you are not working with Riddhi. How was your journey?
One of the biggest reasons why I wanted to work in this film is because it has a group of very talented actors – many of them from theatres. I know many of them and I learnt every moment on the set. Sandip Bhattacharya and Jhulan Bhattacharya play my father and mother. They are amazing and so are the others.
Answering the second part, I have been working in this industry since I was a child – since I was 13/14. Most of my initial work before Open Tee Bioscope was without Riddhi. At that young age, I never used to take the craft seriously. I just used to enjoy it. I guess as I grew up, I took acting seriously. This is the second film in which he is not a part. The other one is Suman Mukhopadhyay’s Putul Naacher Itikotha. Yes, I am enjoying my craft much more seriously.
Riddhi and I have worked together in four-five films and I think makers find us an interesting pair together. But when we worked on a film together, we set aside all our personal equations and focused on the nuances of our characters. At that point, we were just co-actors. So, when he is not there in a film, I have other co-actors and I do my job. There is not much of a difference.
Previously, I worked with Birsada (Dasgupta) in Golpo Holeo Shotti and with Aparna Sen in Goynar Baksho, and interestingly, if we take Ballabhpurer Roopkotha, all these three films have ghosts in it. I think I am linked with ghosts in some spooky way.
Many people often say that being Riddhi’s girlfriend is the biggest professional disadvantage in your life. Your role as a creative individual – a singer, painter, and actor – was stunted by the presence of the Sens. Your thoughts…
This is largely people’s perception and that too a wrong one. I’ll explain my case to you. Since my childhood, I have been a very shy, introverted, and private person. Given a choice, I’ll only talk to my pillow. In my professional career, it is Riddhi who brought me out of my shell. Riddhi and I are best friends. He constantly insisted and encouraged me to go out, talk to people, exchange thoughts and be more open about my creativity and his nagging helped. I am a lot more social today than I used to be.
Meanwhile, Kaushik Sen is my teacher. After my tryst with acting at a young age, I took the craft seriously. I had to start classes and joining a group theatre is one of the best options I had. Swapnasandhani is one of the best groups in Kolkata and I joined. Who could be a better acting teacher than Kaushik Sen? Also, I joined Swapnasandhani after I was offered the character of Sharmila in Taraye Taraye. When I got the offer I realised it is a very good deal for me. Hence, contrary to people’s perception, I benefited from the Sen Family. I am constantly practising my craft, thanks to Riddhi and Kaushik Sen.