Ritwik Bhowmik is currently seen in Jehanabad: of Love And War, streaming on Sony LIV and OTTplay Premium.
Last Updated: 04.48 PM, Feb 05, 2023
An actor is once again in news. He is Ritwik Bhowmik of Bandish Bandits fame. Last seen in Maja Ma, this actor is now a part of Jehanabad: Of Love And War. On the show, Ritwik plays one of the lead roles opposite Parambrata Chattopadhyay. Ritwik and OTTplay converse on many things, including him teaming up in an ensemble project.
Excerpts from the interview…
Congratulations on Maja Ma. After that role, Jehanabad is quite a switch, wouldn't you agree?
Yes, quite a switch. The whole palate has changed.
The Whistleblower and now Jehanabad. Tell me, what do the audiences have to look forward to when it comes to your role in this series?
I play Abhimanyu Singh who has grown up in Patna, done his education in Delhi and has come down to Jehanabad to teach in the University. He's an extremely idealistic guy who wants to make a difference with education and knowledge. He wants to make a difference in the society and in the psychology of people and see where it takes him and his ideology and philosophy. He has been put into this situation where all the characters are now merged together, leading up to an event that actually happened in early 2000. Jehanabad is about different characters from different walks of lives and ideologies coming together and being torn apart by love and war. What exactly happens and who they are is the mystery.
Abhimanyu is definitely one of the most influential parts that I ever played. It left a huge impact on me. It influenced me in many ways and brought me a lot of clarity and confusion - more of the clarity, of course. It was extremely exciting to play Abhimanyu. I really hope that when people watch the show, they get excited watching someone like Abhimanyu. I'm not aware if a lot of people like Abhimanyu are still alive in this world. If they are, then more power to them. He stands for the right or at least the right that he believes in and is aware of. He has the strength and psychology to live by it and make a difference to the people around him.
The show ends on a cliffhanger. So, are we looking at a franchise? Do you have an update?
You never know. Are we already prepared for a franchise? I'm not the right person to be answering that. If the show does well, people like it and connect to the characters, you never know. How does the story go forward, does the world expand, where do the characters go from here on? That's a discussion to have once everybody sees the show. I hope the creators make shows like these and people get more power and encouragement to make something like this.
You have usually portrayed roles of a student before this. What did it take to transform into a professor in this one?
I just had to script a lot of times. It came with a lot of clarity about who Abhimanyu is and what he wants to do. The show itself has many events that unfold in his life from the time he comes to Jehanabad to the real event. These events unfolding in his life shape him in making the decisions he makes.
More than complicated, the switch was extremely intriguing. I got intrigued to understand this world. I had worked as a teacher in Shiamak Davar's dance school. I know what it means to be a teacher, public speaker and passing on knowledge from one end to the other. I know what it means, the essence of it, but I've never really been a professor or been at a college meeting. It was a lot of fun. It was funny even walking in the classroom and hearing a good morning from 100 students and responding to that. These little things were nostalgic for me because I've always been on the other end as a student and I like to believe I'm a good student. That's what drives me. I like to learn and pick up things. This is the first time that I'm not learning but teaching. It was quite an experience. I tried my best to take some traits of the best teachers I've had. Let's see if it shaped up well.
It feels like you broke character a lot on sets. Any memorable moment you'd like to share?
Yeah, plenty. Especially in the classroom scenes because there were at least 60-80 students sitting on the chairs and when you're addressing everybody - they've got something to say, they've got questions to ask - while you're performing, there's a lot of give-and-take. Many times, a situation arises where you feel like a scene was supposed to go somewhere and is going somewhere else just because you have no idea how to connect with 80 people at the same time. It's beautiful the way the whole thing was orchestrated. So, yeah, there were many instances like that.
There's a debate going on currently - about certain actors refusing two-hero roles. In Jehanabad too, there's you and there's Parambrata. So, firstly, have you come across someone who did not agree to two-hero projects? Secondly, how do you see these projects?
I'm too new to be saying these things, very honestly. I don't know what a two-hero film is. If it means that there are big stars in the same film, then there's a two-hero film. I haven't approached any project thinking I'm one of the stars. How am I a star? I have just started my career. My job is to act and exist peacefully amongst the stalwarts. Parambrata da is one of the finest actors of the country. He's done such fantastic work in the past 20 years. I've been an admirer of his work. In that case if you're comparing then Parambrata da is the only hero. I, on the other hand, am just another actor who's trying to get the job right. Probably a few years down the line, when I've held some grounds for myself as an actor, then I'll probably be able to say that I don't want to work with another hero (laughs). No, I have no such idea.
Have there been times when a certain male actor you are cast opposite wants to make changes to increase the length of their role? How did you deal with that?
I've been very lucky that I haven't faced something like that. Even if it happened behind my back, they wouldn't be successful in doing that. I know what I've shot and what has come out, what has stayed and what hasn't. I've been very lucky to have worked with actors who are extremely professional and very passionate about what they do. If you see any of my projects and ensemble, it's filled with A-level and extremely talented and passionate actors. That's something that everybody knows about. Right from Naseer sir, Atul sir, Sheeba ma'am, Rajesh sir, Ravi Kishan sir, Madhuri ma'am, Gajraj sir, I can go on and on with all the names, in this project, there's Rajat Kapoor, Sunil sir, Parambrata, Satyadeep, so many people and such fantastic actors, none of them have ever made me feel uncomfortable even for a second. They're all warm and good people. I promise you I'm not being diplomatic. I couldn't have had a better opportunity to speak ill about somebody else than this but I don't have anything bad to say about anybody. I've only had good experiences and I hope that for the rest of my life I keep working and only work with people like these.
We hear about the second installment of Bandish Bandits. Any update on that?
We're shooting right now and we can talk about it very soon. I'm so excited for that too.
Is there going to be a sequel of Maja Ma, The Whistleblower and Modern Love Mumbai? Are you going to be a part of them?
I'm not sure if any of these projects will have a sequel. I really doubt but if they do, I really hope they take me. I really look forward to working with people I have worked with already because they're all good people. As an audience, I would love to watch what happens to those characters' lives from thereon. As of now, though, I don't have any concrete information on whether these shows have a sequel.
Your upcoming projects?
There are a couple of things but we'll get onto that once Jehanabad happens. Some very exciting things in the pipeline.