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Bollywoodisation of Indian cinema is something we need to look at: Parambrata Chatterjee

Two of actor Parambrata Chatterjee’s movies were screened at the 46th International Film Festival of India – ‘Cinemawala’ and ‘Kadambari.’ In a conversation with NT BUZZ Parambrata speaks about the characters he portrayed in these two Bengali films, playing Rabindranath Tagore and why he feels that in order to conserve our film culture there is a need for plurality

Actor Parambrata Chatterjee is here at the 46th International Film Festival of India with two Bengali movies – ‘Cinemawala’ directed by Kaushik Ganguly, which was part of Indian Panorama and International Competition section, and ‘Kadambari’ directed by Suman Ghosh, in which he plays the young Rabindranath Tagore opposite Konkona Sen Sharma in the title role.
Cinemawala explores the relationship between a father and son, who are passionate about films. Parambrata plays the role of the son. This character is shown having shades of grey, one with no moral standing.
While speaking about this role, Parambrata confirms that filmmaker Kaushik Ganguly was initially hesitant to cast him in this role as it was quite an unusual one for him to play. “Usually I play the protagonist or hero. But this role was that of a son with grey shades. In addition, in this movie, the sympathy of the audience will automatically shift to the father’s character. That’s why he was little hesitant and that’s exactly why I wanted to play this role,” says Parambrata.
The other reason he wanted to be part of this movie was because this movie on a higher lever speaks about the stand of today’s youth on issues like morality and honesty. This story is about a single theatre owner whose theatre has closed down due to the piracy market and multiplex culture. His son is involved in selling pirated DVDs and has no moral qualms about it. “The movie also talks of how the younger generation is fed up of lectures on morals and how the issue does not figure with them,” says Parambrata. Elaborating on piracy he states that majority of people are not aware about what piracy construes. “I recently met a boy who happily told me that he had watched my movie online. When I asked him how he managed this he said he downloaded the movie from torrent. This shows that people are not aware about piracy. Downloading from torrent is also piracy.”
Parambrata also opines that in India there is no concept of blending the old with the new. We believe in uprooting our roots in order to make place for the new he says referring to the single screen theatres that are closing down due to the advent of multiplex chains.
“In Kolkata there are single screen theatres that are 80- or even 100-year-old. These are beautiful old theatres, which I personally like. Instead of closing them down we can convert them into a multiplex. An audience is always looking out for a better movie watching experience. In a single theatre they will complain that either the air condition is not working properly or the projection is bad. Plus, going to a multiplex is a cool thing. In ‘Cinemawala’, which is based in a small town, nobody goes to a single theatre as they find it cool to watch a movie on DVD. To tackle this problem we can follow the European model where they convert an old theatre into a multiplex without changing the façade of the old structure. This ensures that the lovely antique feel is retained,” says Parambrata, who is hopeful of getting a Golden Peacock Award for ‘Cinemawala.’
Besides contemporary roles, the actor is also seen in the period film ‘Kadambari’ where he plays acclaimed poet and Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore.
Playing Tagore, especially in a Bengali film, is quite a task because in West Bengal Tagore is no less than a demi god. This was the reason Parambrata was both excited and skeptical about essaying the role. “Then my director Suman Ghosh gave me the brief that the movie was not a biopic on Rabindranath and that the story was about Kadambari’s character. Furthermore, I play a young romantic Tagore who is just 21- maybe 23-year-old. Then there was no pressure on me,” says Parambrata, who became a household name after the success of ‘Kahaani’ in which he shared screen space with Bollywood actress Vidya Balan. The actor though is not very keen on working in Bollywood films.
“I enjoy regional cinema as it gives me a sense of freedom and peace of mind. Also, to get into Bollywood films you have to hang out with casting directors and agents. Regional cinema also gives me time to experiment with other creative forms like music and filmmaking. I was here at the Film Bazaar to pitch for my film, which is multilingual,” says Parambrata elaborating that one of the perks of being a regional actor is that he is not hounded by fans and paparazzi, which means he can enjoy his personal space.
Parambrata is quite the regular at IFFI. In the 2013, ‘Apur Panchali’, again directed by Kaushik Ganguly, won Best Director Award. Speaking about IFFI he says that it is a good option. However he has reservation when it comes to presentation. “When I walk into Kala Academy, I come across these posters of Bollywood stars like Amitabh Bachchan, etc. There is no representation of regional cinema. This whole culture of Bollywoodisation of Indian cinema is something we need to look at. When I go abroad people always associate Indian cinema with Bollywood. In reality it is just one part of Indian cinema. I believe, at a platform like IFFI, we need to celebrate our diversity and plurality.”

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