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Raj and Subhashree on Parineeta, their first meeting and 10 years of challenge

The first thing that is attractive about Raj is his honesty. That has always been the case. He is an amazing, positive, emotional human being. That positivity has rubbed off on me: Subhashree

By Arindam Chatterjee in Calcutta

  • Published 6.09.19, 3:15 AM
  • Updated 6.09.19, 3:15 AM
Raj and Subhashree
Raj and Subhashree Picture: Pabitra Das

Raj Chakraborty’s film, Parineeta, starring Subhashree, Ritwick Chakraborty, Gaurav Chakrabarty and Adrit Roy, releases today. t2 chats with Raj and Subhashree...

Parineeta is a romance-drama...

Raj: Yes, Mehul (Subhashree), who is in Class XII, adores her teacher, Babaida (Ritwick). Her first crush is Babaida, who is really helpful. Babaida tries to help her out in her studies. Mehul is restless, playful, tomboyish. On Holi, Babaida asks her to come over so that he can give her a surprise. Something happens in their lives which makes Mehul more responsible. The film goes on to show Mehul’s journey as she grows up. It is about how her life changes and how she becomes responsible. There are different chapters in Mehul’s life.

You will get to see Subhashree in a new light in this film. A different side of her will be revealed.

In Parineeta, Mehul studies in Class XII. What were you doing at that age?

Subhashree: I was in the movies. Challenge had released by then.

Raj: I was doing theatre at that time, and I would come to Calcutta to do my workshops. I was crazily passionate about theatre. Theatre taught me that you need dedication, discipline and determination in life and I have followed that always.

Subhashree: Raj’s journey is so inspiring. He was a huge Mithunda fan, and eventually he got to direct Mithunda on Dance Bangla Dance.

Challenge (2009) completed 10 years, and Raj directed Subhashree for the first time in that film...

Raj: It was a really important film for me. Bengali mainstream cinema took a new turn with that film. It became more contemporary. It was a larger-than-life film. Challenge taught me a lot of things. I learnt many aspects about filmmaking. We would shoot for 40 days at that time. The schedule was really hectic. Now it is different. We wrapped up Parineeta in 16 days. When it comes to filmmaking, one has to learn every day, about global trends, techniques, about new ways to tell a story. The language of cinema is changing and evolving every day. One has to move with the times. One cannot fall back on past laurels.

Abhimanyu Mukherjee (director) had acted in that film…

Subhashree: Yes, his character was beaten up by goons!

Raj, you met Subhashree...

Raj:... during the auditions for Chirodini Tumi Je Amar, but finally Priyanka got the role. We told Subhashree that we would like to work with her again. Incidentally, we had approached Priyanka for Challenge. But then for some reason she could not do it. At that time Subhashree was in...

Subhashree: … Puri. And I was walking towards my hotel from the temple when I got the call... ‘Raj director’ was calling.

Raj: It was around 5pm. And we had to do a look test and audition the next day. But she said that she would reach on time, and she did the next day. The shoot was supposed to start 12 days later, and she lost a few kilos in that time. In fact, she had worked out so hard that she was out of breath while shooting for the first few scenes on Day One of the shoot. She had become weak.

Subhashree: The film was so important for me.

Raj: Gradually she got into the rhythm.

Raj, you had a cameo in Challenge and said this one line — Chaliye jao!

Raj: That line was there in Chirodini… and people had really liked it. So my unit members asked me to do the same line in Challenge. I have stopped doing cameos now! After Challenge, Subhashree became a superhit heroine! In fact, she didn’t give dates for Shotru (laughs).

Subhashree: No, that’s not true. I have always admired him as a director. And I don’t believe in this idea of being superstars. Yes, people have a certain perception about me… that I am a snob. But people don’t know me. I am really shy. Initially, I remember I would go for the premieres of his films, but not say ‘hi’ to him… I did not exchange pleasantries because I did not want to give out the impression that I was looking for work. By the way, Raj is such a good-looking guy. He has such a sweet face.

Raj: Thank you! No one says that to me now (grins).

Subhashree: No one has to say it now!

What are your memories from your Challenge days?

Raj: Her dedication. And that dedication has grown and deepened with time. Also, Subhashree is still so innocent. That has remained the same. She is not at all complicated — which is a great quality. But at times I feel people take her for a ride because she is so innocent. People have always seen her or wanted to see her as a glamourous actress. She reads a lot, watches a number of films… how many people know this about her?

Subhashree: The first thing that is attractive about Raj is his honesty. That has always been the case. He is an amazing, positive, emotional human being. That positivity has rubbed off on me.

Raj: I have grown over the years, life and cinema have taught me a lot… about dealing with people, making friendships. I have interacted with so many people over the years… I got the adulation from many people. My horizon has broadened. Now, many, many things are clear to me, especially in my interactions with people. Kaku chilam, jethu hoyegechi (laughs).

Are you more guarded now?

Subhashree: My challenge was to make a name for myself on my own. Now, I will choose roles where there is a lot to do as a performer.

Ritwick and Subhashree in Parineeta, which releases today

Incidentally, Subhashree has not been a part of too many films by Raj… Subhashree: There is no reason to this. It is destiny. This was how it was meant to be.

Raj: Ritwick is one of my fave actors but I have worked with him in only two films. I did not find a subject that would suit Ritwick. It didn’t work out.

Subhashree: The timing has to be right.

Raj: No point in talking about why something didn’t happen. There is no reason.

Subhashree: See, I was destined to do Parineeta.

Subhashree, do you have this desire to write screenplays?

Subhashree: I don’t know!

Raj: She might. She can do a film analysis really well. And she has a great eye for detail. She reads a lot, and then takes notes. She notes down the highpoints, makes character analysis, and tells me stories.

Subhashree: He is always thinking about something. And once he has hit upon an idea, he narrates it to me, and I write it down nicely.

Raj: She is sweet to the power of infinity.

Subhashree: You don’t know what kind of a baby he is. He is like a baby!

Raj: That’s to you!

What kind of movies or shows do you watch together?

Raj: We watch movies on Netflix from 9pm to 11pm. If we really like a show, we watch it till 1am. We binge-watched Sense8 till 3am.

Subhashree: We always watch movies or shows together.

Raj: However, there have been times when I had watched something in the car, and she got to know about it since we have the same account! However, we make it a point to watch that whole episode together again (smiles)… and we behave like we are watching that episode for the first time.

Subhashree: We had watched Typewriter together… only the last two episodes were left. He couldn’t contain the excitement, and watched one in office. Now, when we started watching it at home, he suddenly blurted out, ‘Now, watch what happens!’ And I was like, ‘You saw it without me!’

What’s the topic of discussion at home?

Raj: We spend time with friends and family. Cinema forms a part …

Subhashree: No, he is always thinking about cinema. That is the most charming part about him. He is an amazing director, who is so passionate.

In both Challenge and Parineeta, Subhashree’s character is attached to a teddy bear. Is it a co-incidence?

Subhashree: It is a co-incidence. I still have that teddy bear at home!