Bengali beauty breaking barriers

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Bengali actor, Ritabhari Chakraborty speaks her mind and heart aloud. The lead actor in ‘Brahma Janen Gopon Kommoti’, which creates awareness about menstruation and religious rituals, she talks to NT BUZZ about films and more

Danuska Da Gama | NT BUZZ

Being at IFFI with her film ‘Brahma Janen Gopon Kommoti’ was an enchanting moment for the young and talented Ritabhari Chakraborty. “It feels great here, because films of my mother were also screened here, and now it has come full circle,” she says.

Speaking about playing the lead in the film that has her portraying the character of a woman priest who has to put up with how society deals with women menstruating, she believes that the film has created awareness in West Bengal, and hopes that many such films are made. “No creation of God can be impure,” she stresses, talking about how such films create awareness and sensitise men.

The film which released just before lockdown has been directed by debutant director, Aritra Mukherjee and written by Zinia Sen who has made her debut with this film.

The actress who made her television debut with ‘Ogo Bodhu Sundari’ is now busy with work. She writes content for films, produces content and also runs an NGO for deaf children. Having worked alongside actors like Kalki Koechlin, Rajat Kapoor and Anushka Sharma in ‘Pari’, she tells us that she had a ball of a time working with Anushka.

“Anushka is an amazing co-actor. I didn’t feel like I am from the regional industry and she is from the national industry. The fun part was our director is a Bengali, our DoP (director of photography) is a Bengali, our actor is a Bengali and we would land up talking in Bengali and Anushka would make us converse in Hindi/English,” she laughs.

Having started with regional cinema, Chakraborty believes that there’s so much work all across. She says: “With digital being so strong now the barrier is being crossed. It’s not longer regional cinema, it’s just cinema.”

Chakraborty ventured into writing with her short film ‘Naked’, starring Kalki Koechlin, which was produced by her. The film deals with how entertainment journalism isn’t in-depth. It also sheds light on violence against women. Being nominated for the Filmfare Awards, it gathered a lot of frenzy. “So after having acted in ‘Naked’, people want to collaborate and work with me, and thus I have worked with Anurag Kashyap too. It’s great when people recognise talent and break barriers,” she mentions.

With no dreams of getting into the film industry, many, including Chakraborty thought that since she was academically sound, she would become a doctor. But it was late film director, Ravi Ojha who pointed out that she fit a role in a movie…and ever since she forgot about the stethoscope.

Taking forward the legacy of her film director father Utpalendu Chakrabarty and director-producer-actress mother Satarupa Sanyal, she notes that while the two made serious cinema that travelled various film festivals, for her reaching to an audience matters the most. “I want to experiment with content and do everything I feel I would be able to. And so ‘Brahma Janen Gopon Kommoti’ has done well commercially and we’ve managed to reach IFFI too, so there’s a certain audience for everything,” she elaborates.

Talking about how platforms have increased to showcase talent, she believes that while there will always be stars and superstars, it only exists in India. “In India actors are worshiped because people look at them in a space where they cannot reach. With digital coming in we are starting to look at stars and actors as people.” She ascertains that given that the majority of the people live in an underprivileged zone, there’s still a need for a lot of education so people start seeing a star as another person instead of a ‘babu’.

She believes that the film industry needs several reforms. But on the top of the list she thinks that it’s time to let go of the formula. “There’s this belief that if one kind of film worked, those kinds will only click and then the genre or topics become redundant for entertainment,” she adds. She says that while this phenomenon of formula films hasn’t really worked well in the last eight years if analysed, out-of-the-box films like ‘Andhadhun’, ‘Raazi’ worked. “The biggest reform we need is getting inclined towards content,” Chakraborty informs.

Flooded with work prior to the pandemic, she is now pretty spaced out but with the assistance of her mother has been focusing on her NGO that has been running a school for deaf children for the last 11 years. “The kids keep me grounded and I learn a lot from them,” she concludes.