ANINDITA ACHARYA, Kolkata: When actor Anirban Bhattacharya first read the script of Dracula Sir, his initial thoughts were that of confusion. He knew he was offered to play a good character but then he did not understand how director Debaloy Bhattacharya wanted to communicate the two plots, which run parallel in the script — the present day and the Naxalite movement in 1971.
“It was important to understand how Debaloy da wanted to communicate but then I learnt he was interested in telling a simple tale. All he wanted to do was hold a mirror to the people and let them know that if someone is pushed to the corner, it is not okay. If you are confused and depressed, you need to express it and not suppress the emotion,” says Anirban, who is constantly chasing unconventional characters in movies like Ghawre Bairey Aaj, Dwitiyo Purush, Vinci Da and Eagoler Chokh.
Dracula Sir was supposed to hit theatres during pre-COVID times but then the world changed and so did our cinema viewing experience. Alongside Dracula Sir, almost 10 other Bengali films have also released during Durga Puja, but Anirban isn’t anxious. In fact, he sounded happy that at last the theatres have reopened something the Bengali film industry has been waiting for. “I did an Anjan Dutt film, Finally Bhalobasha (2018), where I thought I performed well. Only 26-27 people in a theatre used to watch the film. So, at times the audience might not like what we think is our best. We need to understand here that at least people have started coming into the theatres again… yes, the footfall is low. But it is the start that matters and not the number. People are going to Gariahat or shopping malls to buy clothes because they can purchase something on their own. In a theatre, we buy tickets to get entertained. We don’t get anything other than an intellectual gain. So, there’s a sense of materialism involved here. Cinema is an idealistic content,” he says.
Playing the character in Dracula Sir was emotionally challenging for Anirban. We have seen vampire films, but a concept like Dracula Sir looked “bloodily fresh” in Bengali films. Though Anirban has been through a challenging phase to get into the role of Dracula Sir, he isn’t necessarily in the mood to come out of the character anytime sooner.
“Why is it so important for me to get out of the character? What would I do and necessarily achieve? There’s been an impact of Dracula Sir on me, then why would I feel the need to get out of the character. If it wants to stay with me, be it,” says Anirban Bhattacharya.
In a short span of time, Anirban has become a dependable name in the Bengali film industry. We have seen this actor in six films of Srijit Mukherji, and in all the films, Anirban has made his presence felt. Initially, when he started off, it was Arindam Sil, who trusted Anirban and gave him roles in films like Eagoler Chokh, Dhananjoy and Durga Sohay. Anirban says as an actor, he gives 100 per cent to any character he essays but Dracula Sir would always remain a bit more special. “These kind of films make you absolutely baseless… removes the ground under your feet and make you supremely vulnerable,” he says.