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Anirban and Ridhima: Talking films and web series

Anirban and Ridhima on 'Byomkesh', 'Dwitiyo Purush', chilling ‘seriously’, role reversal and working in extreme conditions

By Arindam Chatterjee

  • Published 20.01.20, 7:51 PM
  • Updated 20.01.20, 7:51 PM
Ridhima Ghosh and Anirban Bhattacharya in Byomkesh Season 5
Ridhima Ghosh and Anirban Bhattacharya in Byomkesh Season 5 Hoichoi

Anirban Bhattacharya and Ridhima Ghosh are back as Byomkesh Bakshi and Satyabati for Byomkesh Season 5 on Hoichoi, and both the actors are happy with the response the new season is getting. The two also star in Srijit Mukherji’s January 23 film Dwitiyo Purush. We chatted with them at The Saturday Club

Ridhima, what happened on the Day One shoot of Byomkesh Season One?!

Ridhima: It was my first day of shoot of Byomkesh Season One and Anirban made me wait for five hours!

Anirban: It was a disaster. The alarm did not go off!

Ridhima: He had watched Game of Thrones all night.

Anirban: We (Anirban and Ridhima) knew each other from before… there was a seed of friendship. Gaurav (Chakrabarty; Ridhima’s husband) and I had worked together in a film (Colkatay Columbus) and became friends. That’s how I got to know Ridhima.

Ridhima: We had hung out before the shoot of Byomkesh, so I went up to him and said, ‘Hey, what’s up?!’, on Day One. And he ignored me! And I was like, ‘What?! Why did he behave like that?’ Later I realised he was in character… since Byomkesh and Satyabati had not met on screen yet, therefore he did not talk to me on Day One!

Anirban: No, no, it was a lojjar gambhirjo on Day One!

Ridhima: You have not said sorry yet (laughs)!

Anirban: I’m sorry!

How is the feedback for Byomkesh 5 till now?

Ridhima: Very good. This is my fave season. I have become a fan of (director) Soumik Halder. We all know how great a DoP he is. He is fantastic as a director as well. He has handled human emotions so well in Byomkesh. He has given importance to the relationship between Byomkesh and Satyabati… the way she is supporting the half-broken Byomkesh here. Byomkesh is depressed about the situation in Bengal… at that point of time (1943). Satyabati is pushing him to fight it out and come back to reality.

Can you relate to Satyabati?

Ridhima: I really relate to some of the aspects of Satyabati. She is so strong and progressive, which any woman of today can relate to. She is going out of the house, working, taking care of the husband and running the house. When I first did Satyabati and I got into the whole look, it reminded me of my thamma. She is my inspiration for Satyabati.

What’s the difference between the Satyabati you played on television and the one on the web (Byomkesh)?

Ridhima: My approach is different because the script is written in a different way. The Satyabati I had played on television was a bit nagging… but on web, it is more like if Ridhima was Satyabati then what would she do. She is a lot more mature here. When I did Satyabati on television, I was much younger. Now, I have also grown. Therefore the acting pattern is different. I usually behave and react to what my co-star is doing.

Anirban: The Byomkesh I portray is very restless. Ridhima does Satyabati in a very calm manner with a lot of dignity.

Ridhima: The humane side of Byomkesh has been explored in this season.

Anirban has this very serious image. Is he always like that Ridhima?

Ridhima: He is not always like that! He has a fun side as well. He is someone who also chills seriously! He maintains his personality even while chilling (smiles).

Anirban: Of course, I love giving addas. But yes, shobtai amar nijoshho dhorone.

Ridhima: Our understanding is so good now.

Anirban: In Season 5, there is a scene where she comes and sits on the sofa. I am beside her. I suddenly reach out to her and she holds my hand, and then I lie down. The decisions to act this out came instinctively. After Season Two, I felt a need to explore the imperfection of Byomkesh. That was one of the things left to explore. I have tried to change my style of speech gradually in later seasons.

Byomkesh has that suave, sophisticated, charming image. Wouldn’t it run the risk of losing that if one shows his imperfection?

Anirban: See, finally he is a winner. That charm will always remain. We have done nine Byomkesh stories… and a sense of boredom can set in when one is playing a detective. He is the same good guy; intelligent, compassionate. There are no ups and downs. He does not lose a case. He does not fail. My main focus was to draw out Byomkesh’s imperfection.

Ridhima: My Satyabati is more mature and calm and she balances it out.

What happens when the two of you are not shooting?

Ridhima: Off the sets I am Byomkesh and Anirban is Satyabati (laughs)!

How?!

Ridhima: I say things like, ‘You have to listen to me now!’

Anirban: I have given her different names… the first one was Ridhimoy… the recent one was Ridhimoni!

Has Khoka (played by Anirban) met Ankita (played by Ridhima) in Dwitiyo Purush?!

Anirban: No!

Anirban, what can you tell us about your character Khoka?

Anirban: Khoka has no grey zone. He is a dark, bloody character… a villain. I have done six films with Srijitda… and I have given my all for Khoka… haat khuley kaaj korechhi. I gained weight slightly to play this character.

What did you do for research?

Anirban: I have seen dark characters in my life… the language Khoka uses comes from them… when I moved to Calcutta for the first time, I stayed in a place in Koley Market.

We heard that some of your scenes played out in places which were not so big on hygiene…

Anirban: There were places that were stinking, dirty… but as an actor, I really don’t care if a place is dirty or stinking. Once I see a place like that I only tell myself, ‘Okay, I have to be here for only three hours.’ See, this is the nature of my work. I’ll go wherever my work takes me. Of course, as a film unit we are really responsible… we take care of each other. Everyone on the crew and the team really gives their everything to protect the actor. They are so warm and caring. I am very happy about Dwitiyo Purush. The script is amazing.

Ridhima, tell us about your character?

Ridhima: I play Ankita, Rajat’s (Gaurav Chakrabarty) girlfriend. Ankita is what Amrita (Raima Sen) was in 22shey Srabon. They (Parambrata and Raima) see their past reflection in us (Gaurav and Ridhima). I love working with Srijitda. He challenges me as an actor and brings out the best in me. The best part about Dwitiyo Purush is that four Byomkeshes (Abir, Parambrata, Gaurav and Anirban, all have played Byomkesh) are there together, out of which two of them are mine!

Anirban, you are doing quite a few films now, back to back. Do you feel you are getting overexposed as an actor?

Anirban: Not right now. Maybe I will feel it in 2021. See, this is our fate. This will go on for some time, depending on the kind of work I get next. Gradually, the audience or directors will feel that I am being featured in too many films. Then it might affect my flow of work. Now, I can see my fall also. Once one realises that, it will have less impact on the present work. No one is indispensable. I will of course give my everything to a role always.

Luckily, I have got to play a variety of characters. Despite all of this, in the future, if I get the overexposed label, and if the flow of work goes down, then I will write… direct more plays.

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