Parambrata Chatterjee in an exclusive interview with Dhaka Tribune's Showtime
When he had appeared on screen as Topshe years ago, who would have imagined that this Topshe will grow into a Feluda! There was no reason to think that either, as other actors played the role of Feluda over the years. Actor for the Topshe character had changed too. But Parambrata’s Topshe has returned as Feluda in a Bangladeshi TV play. That’s why he is often seen flying in and out of Dhaka nowadays. We caught up with the celebrity actor just a few hours before his flight to Kolkata. In our animated conversation with Parambrata Chatterjee, he talked about working in Dhaka, his experience of going to see Rizwan and of course, Feluda, among many other things.
Parambrata is no stranger to Dhaka. He has been coming here for the shoot of Bhuban Majhi and Voyankor Sundor since the beginning of this year. But this time around there has been a certain thrill about the trips. After all, it is the work for Feluda.
We talked to Parambrata just after the broadcast of the first episode. Parambrata had just came from watching a show of Rizwan, which has been the subject of much discussion lately. Param shared that enthusiasm and expressed unreserved praise for the play. “I come here so often, yet I never find time to go see a play. Today when Shaon bhai (Gousul Alam Shaon) told me that the last show of Rizwan will be staged and I found time, I didn’t want to lose the opportunity,” Param said smiling. He praised the beautiful presentation of a difficult subject and opined that the design planning for the play may have overshadowed the story a little bit. “Actually theatre is not my field, so please take my opinion as the perspective of a viewer,” he added.
Parambrata came back to performer’s perspective as we started to talk about Feluda. How was his debut on the small screen as Feluda? Param does not agree that playing the character for television has to be any less challenging. The tension that has to be retained in making Feluda for the big screen is no different when telling the story on television, he thought. And there was no compromise, Param informed. The creator of the series and actors walked the streets of Dhaka, went into many of its alleys to bring a Dhaka based Feluda to life. Param thinks this was very special. Since there are Feluda movies currently being made in Kolkata, Parambrata and the producers chose to do TV plays and web series here in Bangladesh.
When asked to explain what he meant by ‘no compromise’, Param said that they pulled 18 hours a day sometimes to do justice to the production. A lot of risks were taken. There was a chase scene, which, Param said was filmed with perfection and the making wasn’t any less cinematic than big screen movies.
The biggest inspiration Param has for working here is the people. The level of dedication people show toward their work is praiseworthy, Param said. That’s why he always go back with great memories.
But what most Feluda fans would want to know perhaps, is what the journey was like in becoming Feluda. Param enjoyed it throughly. “Topshe does want to be Feluda, doesn’t he?” he said. In a way, Param fulfilled the fictional character’s dream. He has always felt that the making needs to adapt to the respective time, something that he had conveyed to the director Sandip Ray. So, this time around he was able to put his ideas into action and made Feluda’s character in sync with the current time. That is why his journey from Topshe to Feluda became doubly interesting for him as an actor, as well as a fan.
But Parambrata playing Feluda’s character has had its detractors. Prambrata knows this and understands that it can be difficult for fans to accept someone as Feluda who had previously played the character’s endearing sidekick. But he wants to enjoy these discussions as an actor instead of looking at these as something negative. Param told us that he is fully prepared to face any criticism that may come his way.
When asked who he would choose as Feluda from Bangladeshi actors, Parambrata frankly admitted that he doesn’t know anyone who would resemble the image of the character in his mind. He also admits that this may have been the result of working with Sabyasachi Chakrabarty, which impressed upon him a particular look for Feluda. He thinks that there has to be someone in this country who will look the part. ‘Feluda’ is not just about the outlook, Param said. Anyone can become Feluda even if that person is five feet five inch tall, if they can bring out the intellect of the character.
Parambrata also talked about Bhuban Majhi and Voyankor Sundor. He frankly expressed his love for director Arefin’s story and told us that the story was the reason he became involved in that film. He also praised Animesh Aich, the director of Voyankor Sundor.
Param also mentioned that he likes Mosharraf Karim and Chanchal Chowdhury’s work. He has been in touch with them too. Saying that his whole family is from this country Param told us that he has four homes now: Kolkata, Bollywood, London and, of course, Bangladesh. For now though, he has to fly. But he will be back soon.
Picture taken by Mahmud Hossain Opu