Mumbai: One of Bengals most versatile actors, Abir Chatterjee, seen this week in the pivotal role of the gentle hotel manager in Srijit Mukherjees “Shah Jehan Regency”, feels constrained by the limits imposed on an actor by Bengali audiences on Bengali cinema.
“Bengal has always been inclined towards intellectual cuturalism. I feel now that intellectual inclination has grown into a kind of pseudo-intellectualism which is very restrictive for Bengali cinema.
“Audiences go to see Bengali cinema only when the films have a message or when the characters convey a social relevance or a statement on life and politics. In other words, if as an actor you want to succeed in Bengali cinema you better not try to show you character to be a happy uncomplicated person, Which is why in my new release ‘Shah Jehan Regency’ the angst-ridden character played by Swastika Chatterjee would make a much wider impact than my character who seems to have no problems in life,” Abir said forthrightly.
Abir feels the Bengali audiences penchant for drama has its roots in theatre.
“Audiences of Bengali cinema want to see a certain amount of theatricality in Bangla cinema. These pseudo-cultural rules of cinematic entertainment do not apply to Hindi cinema. Bengali audiences are happy to just see Hindi films for fun. But not Bengali films.
“They loved ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya’. And so did I. But if I were to do something similar in a Bengali film I’d be accused of being frivolous,” he said.
So does Abir feel constrained as an actor?
“There are many limitations to what one can do in Bangla cinema. However I cannot complain about the lack of opportunities. Few directors like Srijit Mukherjee have a staunch viewership. And as long as I keep working with them I have an audience and a fair amount of flexibility as an actor,” said Abir.
Having said this, Abir does feel his talents are restricted by his image.
“I am mostly seen to be ideal to play sleuths and detective , though in my last two film,the short-film ‘Maya’ (directed by Anniruddh Roy Chowdhary) and ‘Shah Jehan Regency’ I have a romantic role,” he said.
In both Abir loses the love of his life.
“And now in my next release ‘Tritya Adhyay’ with Paoli Dam, I again lose the girl. Luckily for me I am not a loser in love in real life,” quips Abir.