The Bong “Chaplin”, well known for his unconventional roles, gives us sometime out of his hectic schedule. Here is an excerpt of the interview he gave to BongConnect.
BongConnect: How did you enter the film industry?
Rudranil: I started my acting career from theatre, and then I moved from theatre to television and finally from television to films. However I would like to add that unlike many people especially from outside the film industry who look up to it as the ‘GLAMOUR WORLD’, I have no such illusions. To me it is just a profession like any other profession.
BongConnect: With which theatre group you began your journey of acting?
Rudranil: I started out with a group called ‘Padakhyep’ in Howrah, as I grew up there. I acted on stage for the first time when I was in class eight.
BongConnect: From “Refugee” to “Hawa Bodol”, how pleasant has the journey been so far?
Rudranil: My first releases were “Refugee” and “Kantatar”, the two films came out almost around the same time, and my last one was “Hawa Bodol”. I donned a negative character in “Refugee” and in “Kantatar” which was such a full-fledged art film I played a very simple role. Those were two completely different films. And, recently my role in “Hawa Bodol” has also been different from the earlier ones that I have played. Appreciation from the viewer is very important for any performer, especially when it is for the variety of roles that he essays. If they appreciate it, that’s the world for us.
BongConnect: “Bye Bye Bangkok”, “Goray Gondogol”, “Balukabela.com”- three consecutive mainstream comedy films, and previously “Japanese Wife”, “Jiyo Kaka” and recently “Hawa Bodol” from the not so mainstream genre. In all of these films you have a comic presence; do you mostly view yourself as a comedian?
Rudranil: Not at all. I never view myself that way. As an actor whatever I’m doing, I’m liking it. I always do hatke work and I know it. The thing is that in the last three years, the word ‘comedian’ has got deleted from our film industry lingo. No one can be just slotted as a comedian any longer. Even ten years back the type of comedy that prevailed in the industry is not in vogue now-a-days, and there is no such film which is a typical ‘comedy film’. The films which are being made now represent what is known as steady humor, like “Hawa Bodol”. The only reason it turned out to be such a big hit was that although it began as an out and out comedy, it soon delved into the character crises of its chief protagonists, so it was not just about the comic element. And, I’m liking whatever I’m doing because people are liking that too. That is the most important thing to me.
BongConnect: Your role of “Prabhat” in “Byomkesh Bakshi” won you the Zee Bangla’r Gourab award. You are mostly known as a comedian, so how did it feel to receive an award for the best negative role?
Rudranil: It’s no big deal, it’s my job. If u can sing, you should be able to sing any kind of song, not just a specific type. And especially actors have to be versatile. If I’m an actor I shall be fit for all kind of characters. Shey comedy hok ba negative role, acting ta janle shob’e kora jay. I’m happy that people have accepted me in different kind of roles, which is true for very few actors like Saswata Chatterjee and Rajatabha Mukhopadhay.
BongConnect: You starred in the very entertaining and youth centric movie called “Teen Yaari Kotha”. If asked to whom would you pick as your two closest friends from the industry, in short who would you be teen yaar with.
Rudranil: Parambrata and Kanchan are my two closest friends from Tollywood. Obviously I meet Param more often than Kanchan as we are business partners, but still they are the two I would say I’m friends with for life.
BongConnect: Parambrata Chattopadhyay, your longtime co-actor, is now your production house partner too, is there any rivalry or disagreements between the two of you?
Rudranil: The thing is that all of us are different individuals. So, obviously my choice, my ideas and everything will be different from his. It’s not that if he has worn a red shirt I also have to wear it. Motantor hotei pare, motantor howa manei individuality’r prokash, setai kamyo. But the rule is whenever he is the director on the floor I have to obey him but when I am the one, like in my film “Shunno”, he had a lot of problems with date and script too, so he said that he won’t do it. Na korbe na korbe, boye gache! But in future when we will work together again in any of my films, I will dictate, not him.
BongConnect: We heard that during the shooting of “Shunno” there were some problems.
Rudranil: Yes, during the shoot Anjan da (Anjan Dutta) suddenly vanished with an excuse of illness and later he was found singing in an event for our Prime Minister in Darjeeling, but he didn’t come to my shoot in Kalimpong. It’s sad when the relation between an artist and any political party is not one of friendship but of requirement. Then sometimes we are forced to do things which we don’t want to otherwise. May be its true. May be he was not well but due to the pressure from a political party he had to perform. However later he finished his work with me too, everything was solved.
BongConnect: Your role in “Chaplin” was very inspiring for all of us, but how did it affect you? What you felt while playing the role?
Rudranil: Of course it is a very off-beat film by our industry standards. One of my earliest such film was “Herbert”. The world praised it but it was not a big hit over here. Similarly “Chaplin” also was hugely praised all over the world, but didn’t rake in much box-office returns. Recently “Shobdo”, where I was supposed to act but then Ritwik did my role, has released. I want it to do well commercially. It’s a great film.
BongConnect: “033” and “Hawa Bodol” both depicted you as a rockstar. How much you are into music?
Rudranil: I don’t see music as different from films. To me acting, music, sound everything is part of a film and theatre also has taught me to be a complete performer. So I’m quite attuned to music.
BongConnect: The change of character in “Hawa Bodol” from total bawali to a corporate slave, which one is more like the real Rudranil?
Rudranil: No, I’m in between the two in real life. I hate diplomacy, I simply call it dhandabaji. I love to sleep, for workload I can’t sleep much and have to do late hours. I don’t lie unnecessarily. While going to bed I try to recollect whatever lies I have said during the whole day, it’s a regimen that I follow. See no hide and seek will work there. One can’t lie to oneself.
BongConnect: Of your three heroines- Ushoshie, Tanushree and recently Neha Panda, who are you most comfortable with both on and off camera?
Rudranil: All three names which you took are my friends. Tanushree has came to this industry from the modeling world, Neha Panda is actually a concept designer who has been forced by us to act, and Ushoshie was a teacher, all of them are from three different fields. I won’t like to pick anyone from amongst the three. They are quite nice human beings, and that is what matters to me.
BongConnect: A situation for you. Suppose one day you woke up in the morning to find yourself turned into Swastika. Then what will you do?
Rudranil: Will get some black paint from the market and paint myself to return to my original skin tone.
BongConnect: Hectic shooting schedules and an oh-so busy life, how do these affect your food habits?
Rudranil: In our line of work it’s not possible to maintain a routine for food, so whenever I get a gap, I keep eating whatever I get. Never be in empty stomach and generally try to avoid spicy food.
BongConnect: Let’s have a rapid fire…
Rudranil: Ya, sure.
i. Chingri or eelish? - Chingri
ii. Late night or early morning? – Late night
iii. Mainak or Param? - Param
iv. Tarantino or Spillberg? - Spillberg
v. Ronaldo or Messi? - Messi
vi. Chaplin or Hawa Bodol? - Chaplin
vii. Pather Panchali or Jukti Tokko Goppo? - Jukti Tokko Goppo
viii. Anjan Dutta or Nachiketa? – Anjan Dutta
ix. Saswata Chatterjee or Khwaraj Mukhopadhyay? – ahh, chap! , Khwaraj Mukhopadhay
x. Sahana Bajpai or Somlata Acharya? – Sahana Bajpai
BongConnect: What’s your favorite food?
Rudranil: Dal Bhaat Mach Bhaja which I rarely get to eat. I have to order it from “Bhajahari Manna” for a good price.
BongConnect: You have a large fan following, specially female fans, do you feel disturbed at some point of time?
Rudranil: I’ll feel disturbed by my female fans the day I turn into a homosexual. One thing is very important that whether it be my male or female fans, people like my acting or rather like me as a next-door-guy. And appreciation from anybody is very much welcome. For me it is important that amaye niye chayer dokane adda hok, kotha hok.
BongConnect: Some tips for the upcoming actors, who wants to act.
Rudranil: Acting cannot be learnt, but can be shared. I have just one tip for anybody who wants to act. Don’t just stand in front of the mirror and admire yourself. Go out, look around, you will find various characters in real life. Then look at the mirror and see whether you can become like them or not.
BongConnect: Apart from acting and films, what are your other interests?
Rudranil: Apart from acting I love music which in a way is related to acting, I also like to paint. But most of all I love to sleep.
BongConnect: In next five years where do you see yourself in this industry?
Rudranil: A bald actor. Yes, it’s in my genes. In my family we start losing hair from forty onwards.
BongConnect: Few words for the readers of BongConnect.
Rudranil: I have just one thing to say, read the correct news, not all those craps which are made to sell for the sake of entertainment and money. This young group of guys and girls are trying hard to find out the real news. I wish them all the best.
Sohini Chakraborty and Pratip Banerjee