Ronjini Chakraborty says she has been replaced by a star kid: ‘You just have to move forward by working harder’
Ronjini Chakraborty calls Irrfan Khan her inspiration, says he inspired her to not limit herself to any medium, genre or region.
Actor Ronjini Chakraborty is slowly making her mark in the entertainment industry after her notable performances in Tumbbad and Article 15. The actor draws inspiration from late actor Irrfan Khan and says the kind of depth and understanding he had in his life reflected in his work.
Ronjini made her acting debut with the 2012 film From Sydney With Love but was noticed for her role in the 2018 film Tumbbad. Since then, she has featured in Bollywood blockbusters Simmba and Article 15 and saw the release of two web shows Raktanchal and Lalbazaar during lockdown. The actor is now waiting to begin shooting for the second season of Raktanchal once things return to normal.
In an interview with Hindustan Times, Ronjini opened up about her work on the silver screen and OTT platforms. She also talked about her inspiration, Irrfan Khan, and how she deals with favouritism and nepotism in Bollywood.
Tumbbad was your first major Hindi film, do you think it didn’t get its due?
Tumbbad has a lot of history. Before we started shooting, I started getting calls from people who congratulated me for being a part of the film. Then I came to know that the film was being made since 9-10 years and Irrfan was supposed to be there. They started shooting with Nawazuddin Siddiqui as the protagonist. Anurag Kashyap was producing it. It went on the floors in 2012 and then again we shot for it in 2014 and it could finally release in 2018. Automatically, we were relieved and very happy that it released.
There was a time when we thought it may not release at all. We were anticipating who’s going to take this up because it didn’t have any star and had a very different subject. It was a horror film and horror films in India do not have a great history as people are skeptical about them. The film was doing the rounds of various production houses. Eros was approached and finally Aanand L Rai picked it up and agreed to present it. We were extremely excited that we have a good presenter. Being a part of the team, we were more than happy the way it was received in theatres. It totally happened through word of mouth. Everyone was new, nobody knew Sohum Shah at that point of time. After watching the film, some of the audience had a point of view that it should be sent to Oscars. After we completed one year of the film, we did a screening especially for the fans of the film who wanted to watch it in movie theatres.
You gained more popularity with your appearance in Ranveer Singh-starrer Simmba. Did that pave the way for more offers?
People even joked that ‘you are doing such variety of films, you are doing Tumbbad and you are doing Simmba (both rhyme with each other)’. After Tumbbad, I started getting personal messages and got a wonderful response for Simmba and Article 15 as well. After these films, people started noticing me. This year has been amazing despite the lockdown and the pandemic. I also shot for Chippa which has child actor Sunny Pawar as the protagonist.
How was it to work with Anubhav Sinha and Ayushmann Khurrana in Article 15?
Anubhav Sinha is like a family man who takes the whole team along. He believes in equality which is very well clear in his films and the same thing follows on the set. A film set is always very hierarchal and everything is according to your position and what you are. But on Anubhav sir’s set, we were all on a picnic. He pays attention to every actor, even if that actor has come for a one day-shoot.
Ayushmann mingled with the entire team so well that we forgot that we were shooting with a ‘star’. We were shooting together and had dinner together. We had a WhatsApp group and we are active on it till now. Anubhav sir messages about everything that’s going on around the world and we crack jokes and share memes. We recently celebrated one year of Article 15 and were planning a Zoom party. The philosophy of the film is what reflected on the sets of the film. We had political discussions and chats on recent developments. Everybody who was part of the film was aware of the social situation in our country. It’s more than just a film for all of us and we are proud of it.
You are aware of the insider-outsider debate. Have you ever lost out on an opportunity that eventually went to a star kid?
This has happened many times. I have been replaced by a star kid once because they wanted a more well-known actor in place of me for the sake of the project. I feel this is a part of every profession and it happens more so in this industry. If you agree to be in this business of art, you just have to move forward by working harder and harder. Otherwise, we have to look at it as a very pure form of art where we are not attached to this industry, like theatre artists. They don’t live in Mumbai, they stay in places like Puducherry etc. They create something on their own.
Without being negative about it, I feel the audience is the main star. I need to connect to the audience with my performance. I have to be that great that the audience agrees to pay ₹500 to watch my performance. This is like a very logical process and the producers must say that ‘we have to take this person, we will be earning money out of it’. So much money is involved in making a film.
Do you look up to someone for inspiration in Bollywood?
One person I looked up to and still look up to is Irrfan Khan. I had this realisation in the last few years. I was casually watching his interviews and started understanding the depth this human being had. The understanding of acting as an art he had. I still remember his interview where he explains that he does Anees Bazmee’s totally commercial film and a Mira Nair film and explains how you invest in certain roles and how you don’t invest in certain roles and just enjoy them without judging. The kind of depth and understanding he had of life, that reflected in his work. I truly believe that if you evolve as a human being, you also evolve as an artist. That is something I want to cultivate in myself. He inspired me to not limit myself to any medium, genre or region. One should always be unlimited as an artist.
Author tweets @ruchik87
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