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Exclusive! The Eken star Anirban Chakrabarti says few dialogues, mannerisms of Eken babu were tailor-made for him

Chakrabarti will reprise the role of the Bangali sleuth Eken Babu in the upcoming film, directed by Joydeep Mukherjee. Also starring Debasish Mondal, Paayel Sarkar, Somak Ghosh and Suhotra Mukhopadhyay, the film will release in theatres this Poila Boishakh

  • SAMRAT DAS

Last Updated: 04.27 PM, Apr 11, 2022

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Exclusive! The Eken star Anirban Chakrabarti says few dialogues, mannerisms of Eken babu were tailor-made for him
The Eken

This summer is going to be memorable for everyone as the quick-witted, sharp-tongued quintessential Bangali sleuth Eken Babu is all set to rule our hearts and minds again with the upcoming movie, The Eken. The Eken is directed by Joydeep Mukherjee and Aamlaann Chakraabarty has composed the theme song. Debasish Mondal of Mandaar fame plays a pivotal role in the movie along with Paayel Sarkar. Eken babu’s two allies, played by Somak Ghosh and Suhotra Mukhopadhyay, will partake in the adventure drenched in mystifying fogs of the valley and back alley of the mountain town.

The character of Eken babu was created by Sujan Dasgupta for the story, Manhattan ey Moonstone was published in Anandamela in 1991. His literature that included short stories and more was then adapted into a web series by Hoichoi which was first released on March 3, 2018. And the eponymous hero, Anirban Chakrabarti aka Eken Babu emerged as a celebrated, lovable sleuth who deciphers complex puzzles with his savvy prowess and a pleasant smile.

On November 19, 2021, SVF, the production company that heads Hoichoi, announced a film titled, The Eken. Disguised as an ordinary Bengali man, Chakrabarti reprises his role as Eken Babu who is going to bring back the smile and thrill all over again. Ahead of its release, OTTplay caught up with the man behind The Eken.

Excerpts

Tell us about your upcoming release The Eken. I guess it’s difficult to spot the difference between shooting a web series and a film while you are in the process.

I don’t know about others but yes, initially, I could not spot the difference while shooting The Eken. Maybe because I've been performing as Eken Babu for five seasons of the series and I’m so sure about his every move.

So, it was difficult for me to spot the difference. But when I started watching the shots, I was sure about the frames and mise-en-scenes. Because in films, everything seems so larger than life and the whole process is different. When we started with season one, we had no clue whether it was going to survive till the next season or not. (chuckles) And now we are here. We have invested everything into this project and I can only hope that the audience is going to like it.

And this journey has enriched me to the core. I received genuine heartfelt adulations from various quarters of the audience. Be it a kid or an elderly couple, everybody has poured out their kind words of appreciation towards me and our team. And this is a gift to our beloved audience who remained throughout this journey encouraging us. Suvo Noboborsho to everyone in advance.

Tell us about your technique. What do you think while carving out a certain character?

I invest more in knowing the person I’m going to play and when I say knowing, I mean deep-rooted knowledge about his existence. I don’t implement mirror methods and I don’t stand before one while practicing my body language. I start communicating with his origin, desires, his shortcomings, strengths, and weaknesses and I start reacting to his lingo and his attitude. I never try to employ any external or physical manifestations while sketching a character.

My only intention is to keep it cerebral because I strongly believe that once I start believing in his values or philosophies, the body language starts reflecting. And the same happened during Eken Babu. When I started essaying the role, unfortunately, I was not familiar with the original text. I came to know about him through the scripts and I was told that some of the dialogues and behaviours were tailor-made after my casting. So, I suppressed my temptations and decided not to read the original texts because it might create conflicts within me. Initially, I had my doubts but I kept asking my directors and the members of the creative team about the same. And they liked my version of Eken babu, so it stayed and now after doing five seasons, I’m well versed with my version of the great sleuth (smile).

When did you start acting and what was your first role?

As far as I can remember, I was in class four when I performed on stage for the first time. However, I can’t recall my role. Primarily, my roots were firmly lodged in academics but I still managed my study schedules to perform for local theatre groups. I’m not a townie. My home town is in Budge Budge and it’s away from the hustle and bustle of the city. So, I never dreamt of making it a profession.

And how did you manage to turn it into a profession?

No journey is easy. By profession, I used to teach in colleges in the Information Technology discipline. I used to lecture management undergraduates of various colleges, and it spanned almost 14 years.

I used to do theatre along with my teaching profession. But I couldn’t appear on television or cinema works because I had no time to spare during office hours. The only spare window I had was during the evening after office hours. But later on, the volume of theatre work also started mounting and I started receiving calls from various theatre directors. And then, I had to take the crucial decision. It was a very difficult time initially as I couldn’t deal with uncertainty that comes with the acting job. I was thinking of getting into acting full time but I was coerced back into my teaching profession because I had my responsibilities and duties which I could not deny.

Having said that, I must also include that uncertainty is not a safe, happy place but it also gives you a strange kick from within. Although I loved my teaching profession, the routine structure gradually made my life mundane. I could not deny the fatigue it brought into my life because I knew where I am going to be in the next six months. There was no unpredictability, no thrills, no excitement attached to it.

I finally left my job in 2017. The following year onwards, I started getting offers for web series and cinema. I was already into my 40s when I changed my profession and I never wanted to regret it for the rest of my life. So, I let go off my nightmares and took the plunge (smiles). Yes, it was a risky game but everything worked out somehow.

You came a long way and your crucial decision turned into gold but the audience at large draws a comparison of you with the legendary actor Santosh Dutta. Do you carry any burden of responsibility while performing?

Absolutely not, I respect him, worship him and I do understand that there’s an uncanny resemblance due to baldness, that’s all. (smiles). This started happening when I first appeared on screen as Eken Babu. That moustache, attire, and pleasantly intelligent nature reminded the audience of Lal Mohan Ganguly aka Jatayu and they are not wrong. I sensed it while doing the very first episode of Eken Babu and the press started writing about it. But interestingly enough, the on-screen persona of Eken babu is not author-backed. It was designed for on-screen purposes only. The real Eken is a former Calcutta police detective, mild-mannered, and oftentimes, preposterous as well. And when the hoardings and posters started rolling out, people started drawing comparisons. In recent times, the audience has witnessed me playing different roles apart from Eken Babu and the comparison has died out gradually. But yes, the comparison made me tremendously happy (smiles).

And no matter how many times I play Jatayu, the audience is going to recall Santosh Dutta because he created that benchmark and niche for himself. And that will remain unreachable forever.

Theatre and big screen, you have worked on both the mediums. What are the differences between them, according to you?

Technically, they are definitely different. Expressions, voice amplification, body language, everything is different. While performing on screen, an actor has the opportunity for retakes or improvements but in theatre, everything is live. Not only the performers, even the audience become a part of that journey and there’s audacious blood and flesh feel to everything. The pitch or tonality also differs. But while performing for the camera, there’s a sense of freedom. Before delivering my act, I’m informed that this is a close-up, this is a mid-shot and I can rearrange my delivery accordingly.

Apart from the technical divide, it’s all about performance.

He signs off.

The Eken is coming to a theatre near you on April 14.

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