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You had earlier worked with Vidya in Bhalo Theko. She is now a big name in films. Did you find any change in her?
Working with Vidya was special. She is a brilliant actor and a fantastic human being. 'Bhalo Theko' was my second film and her debut. After many years, I went to met her in her van on the first day of the shoot of Kahaani. She looked at me and smiled saying 'Deep'. That was the name of my character in Bhalo Theko.
I have known her when she was a newcomer, and today Vidya is a National award winner. However, both of us have grown in age and have matured as human beings as well as actors. Though she is a reputed name today, it was amazing to see her grounded.
You are already an established name in Bengali films. After 'Kahaani', what do you think is your future in Bollywood films.
I am not thinking about that. At present, I am just enjoying the adulation and praise that I have been getting for Kahaani. Earlier I had fans only in Kolkata and neighbouring states, now it is also Mumbai and all over. I have been getting tweets from Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru. It feels good.
How did Kahaani happen to you?
After acting in Bengali films for eight-nine years, in 2009, I took a break and went to UK to do my Masters in Filmmaking. While touring the continent, I received an email from long time associate and filmmaker Arindam Sil. He wanted to know when I would be back in Kolkata. Later, I got a call on my European number. When I ans-wered, there was a splurge of Bengali gallis from the other end. Shocked, I asked who it was. It was Sujoy Ghosh.
Why was he using cusswords?
(Laughs) It is a sweet way of Bengalis to greet one other. I had met Sujoy in 2007 in Mumbai during the release of my movie Bong Connection. He had praised my work in the film and had called to tell me about a film that he wanted me to do. Over Skype, he narrated the story. I came to Kolkata and started shooting immediately.
How was it shooting for your first Hindi film, though you are a reputed Bengali actor?
The entire experience was too overwhelming. For me, I was going back after a hiatus and there was this Hindi film with Sujoy alongside Vidya Balan. Since I had loved the script and my role in the film had me excited, there was no question of refusing the offer.
Did you identify with Rana, your character in the film?
Not really. Rana does not come from an affluent strata of society while I have a very educated and urban background. He has a rural upbringing. For the role, I had to visit some police stations and do some research on their work, mindset and other relevant things. I also got a lot of help from Sujoy and Vidya. Both knew what they were doing and I just followed their vision.
Tell us about yourself.
I come from a cultural background. My father is a film journalist and my mother is a film archivist and critic. Ritwik Ghatak is my maternal grandfather. Though I have admired his work, I was never directly influenced by him.
Was it difficult to shoot in the streets of Kolkata in broad daylight with Vidya?
It was maddening. Thankfully, Vidya was in pregnant attire, so initially people did not recognise her or the fact that there was a shooting taking place. We shot at the wildest of places and did face some problems. But these were overcome easily.
What do you have to say about Sujoy?
He is an interesting human being. As a director, he is quite crazy, a complete freak. But he also has a good sense of cinema and a terrific vision.
Baishe Srabon, your last release was a blockbuster. What do you have to say?
Yes. It was an out-and-out thriller and I am grateful to director Srijit Mukherjee for having chosen me for the film along with Prosenjeet. I have just finished working for his third film, a romantic satire, Hemlock Society. Earlier I have tasted success with Kaalbela, a political drama, but with Baise Srabon, I enjoyed success that was unforeseen.
As a director and someone who owns a production company, what are your forthcoming plans?
Rudranil Ghosh, a close friend, is my partner in my company called Workshops. We are working on many projects, in films as well as for TV. If required, we shall also act in them. As for direction, I have something up my sleeve this year. I am acting in Anjan Das' untitled film, director Rhitobrata Bhattacharya's debut film Basanta Utsav.Then there is Maach Mishti & More for May release. In the comedy-fantasy Bhooter Bhobishyat, I play a filmmaker who goes to shoot in a bungalow and gets stuck there only to encounter the ghosts living there since centuries.
If films keep you busy, how do you manage a long-distance relationship with your girlfriend?
Ike Schouten is a Dutch and lives in Netherland. Every 3-4 months I got to Europe to visit her and she also comes to Kolkata to visit.
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