Arindam Sil started his career as an actor. Cut to the present, he is one of the most trusted directors in the Bengali film industry today. Sil, who always nurtured the dream of becoming a director, rues the fact that he hasn’t got his dues as an actor. “I am enjoying direction. But honestly speaking, I haven’t received my dues as an actor,” he says, who is going through one of the best phases in his career. Every Bengali filmmaker yearns to make a film on the iconic Bengali sleuths, Feluda and Byomkesh Bakshi. However, a few manage to realise that dream. Sil is one of them. His first Byomkesh Bakshi film, Har Har Byomkesh, starring Abir Chatterjee, released this Friday. Confident and excited, Sil spoke to HT about his love for thrillers, healthy competition in the film industry and more:
The year began with Bengali film Ebar Shabor, which went onto become a hit. Now, the year comes to an end with another film. It’s been a good year for you.
I am thankful to everyone and the producers. They trusted me and asked me to direct a film on Byomkesh Bakshi. It’s certainly a dream come true for any director to make a Byomkesh Bakshi film. But if you ask about my current state of mind, I will say that I am standing on the edge. I am aware of the fact that I will be nowhere if I fail to deliver a good film. With Byomkesh Bakshi, I know I will have to deliver a good product.
Feluda and Byomkesh are the famous sleuths in Bengali literature. Whenever films are made on these two detectives, they have been huge hits.
I want my Byomkesh Bakshi to be critically acclaimed. I want everyone to understand the nuances of the character, and the way I have interpreted the film.
Weren’t you under pressure when Ebar Shabor was about to release (the film released on January 2, 2015)?
This is a different scenario. It’s a well known fact that everybody has read Byomkesh Bakshi and Feluda. They know the text by heart. So it’s a challenge to hold back the audience for two hours. And I love to challenge myself. I need to make a film which is better than my last outing.
This is actor Abir Chatterjee’s fourth Byomkesh Bakshi film. However, this is his first Byomkesh Bakshi film with you. Was it challenging for you to present him in a different way?
I have presented him in my own way. We have done a lot of research. I have tried to create the Benares of 1946. In fact, that has been my biggest challenge.
Your film has been in news ever since it has been announced. From Harsh Chhaya, Rachel White, Ritwick Chakraborty to Adil Hussain, this film has a huge ensemble cast. Was it a conscious decision to rope in established names to make this franchise a bigger one than Anjan Dutt’s Byomkesh Bakshi.
I went by the script and wasn’t thinking about other films. I needed actors who I knew would deliver. In case of Adil Hussain, I needed an actor with an attitude of a zamindar. I cannot cast a potbellied actor speaking wrong Hindi. I have cast Harsha Chhaya as inspector Purandhar Pandey. He is one of the best actors in Har Har Byomkesh. He got tanned to suit the part. He was speaking like a Benarasi on the first day of shooting. That’s the essence of a true actor.
Har Har Byomkesh is based on Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay’s Banhi Patanga. The story was set in Patna but you have shot it in Benares.
We haven’t deviated from the original story but we have taken a few creative decisions. Patna was never a character in the text but in my film, the city of Benares has become a character and adds to the storyline. I wanted to present Byomkesh in a larger-than-life manner. Actually, it was producer Srikant Mohta’s idea to shoot in Benares. Benares has the old-world charm. It’s going to be a visual treat for sure. Also, the text doesn’t mention much about Satyabati, Byomkesh’s wife. But in the film we have handled Byomkesh and Satyabati’s love story in a new way.
Watch Har Har Byomkesh trailer:
How have you presented Abir as Byomkesh Bakshi?
Byomkesh has a certain kind of dadagiri. Byomkesh is agile and always on the move. He doesn’t carry a knife or a gun. His mind races faster than his opponents. My Byomkesh is larger-than-life.
Have you watched Jisshu Sengupta’s Byomkesh Bakshi film?
I don’t belong to that category of filmmakers who say they haven’t watched the film when in reality they were the first ones to watch it. I reserve my comments on the film but I loved Jisshu. He is a fantastic actor. But, for me, Abir has always been the best Byomkesh Bakshi.
You are the only Tollywood director, who has made films on three popular sleuths from Bengali literature - Byomkesh Bakshi, Rijuda and Shabor Dasgupta. Thrillers seem to fascinate you.
Life is a thrilling affair. I am working on other stories, which also has elements of a thriller.
What are your favourite Byomkesh Bakshi stories?
Satyanweshi, Durgo Rahasya, Amriter Mrityu and, of course, Banhi Patanga.
As a director whom do you consider a competition in Tollywood?
Healthy competition is always necessary. I like Srijit Mukherji, Kaushik Ganguly and Anindya Chattopadhyay’s works.
I will start with Ebar Shabor 2. I am also planning to make a film on Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay’s story Madam O Mahashay. Mahasay. I might make a fascinating love story with a few superstars of India.