ANINDITA ACHARYA, Kolkata: It’s been a journey of less than four years but within a short span of time, actress Ishaa Saha has managed to make a name for herself. Her career has a mix of TV serial (Jhanjh Lobongo Phool), Bengali films like Projapoti Biskut, Guptodhoner Sandhane (which made her popular as Jhinuk) and Sweater (remember as coy Tuku) and hit web series like Japani Toy. And for the first time, Ishaa will be seen in an adaptation of a Rabindranath Tagore story and the actor couldn’t be more excited. What makes it all the more fascinating is that her debut Tagore movie, Detective will be the first Bengali film to have the direct-to-digital release on Hoichoi on August 14.
Before Ishaa talks about the direct releases of Bengali movies on OTT platform, she says she is happy with her growth as an actor. “Not many actor gets to grow like me within a short span of time. Of course, apart from luck, my hard work has been involved too. And the struggle is still there. Though I am having may be two or three releases a year, I am happy,” Ishaa says in her moist voice over the phone.
As India’s COVID-19 cases move towards 24 lakh, we know how much we have become dependent on the OTT platforms for our daily dose of entertainment. In fact, our sleep patterns have gone for a toss. Bollywood is releasing some of their biggest projects on the digital platforms. Though most of the Bengali filmmakers have kept their coveted projects for theatrical release, SVF has decided to go the digital way with Detective. This is their first direct OTT release this year. It goes without saying that if Detective does well on Hoichoi, a lot of avenues will open up in Bengali film industry. And Ishaa admits it and hopes the audience of Bengal watches the film, which was meant to release on the big screen.
“Hoichoi is the most popular digital platform in Bengal. There are a number of independent filmmakers in the state who do not get proper release in the theatres. But if they release their film on web, the reach is widespread. Also, our industry will grow,” says Ishaa.
The Mafia actress also says that web is not restricted by any boundary, hence a Bengali film can be watched in Bangladesh too and in any part of the world. “This is the best part of digital release. You can enjoy the premiere of the Bengali film on your smart TV within the comforts of your house with your family,” she says.
However, that doesn’t mean the experience of watching a film on the silver screen can be replaced. “Here we are talking about the next few months… till the vaccine arrives in our country. Once things get back to normalcy, we will be back to the theatres again,” she says.
The cinema theatres are shut till August 31 and Ishaa believes it will take time for the audience to return immediately to the halls. “In the new normal, going back to the theatres will be different. You cannot watch films on OTT forever. Now, we are almost forced to have premieres on OTT,” she reasons.
Detective is based on Rabindranath Tagore’s story and the title role as Mahimchandra is played by Anirban Bhattacharya. He aspires to earn fame in his profession. He craves for some complex cases to come his way so that he can prove his worth. Mahimchandra’s first love is his detective books (primarily, Sherlock Holmes whom he admires) and second, is his wife Shudhamukhi portrayed by Ishaa. But Ishaa did not read the text before playing the character. Her logic was simple. “I wanted to understand the character as it was written in the script. I will read the text after the release of the film,” she says.
But then, Ishaa is anxious that there would be criticism given they were working on Tagore. “Since it was Tagore, we know we will be criticized. We all are sensitive about him. Anirban has done quite a few works on Tagore on Hoichoi. I kept my faith on the director Joydeep Mukherjee. I generally go with the flow and don’t think much about the character while shooting,” she says.
Though the shooting of Detective started before lockdown, it resumed during Unlock 1. Ishaa recalls how she was all nerves when she stepped out of her house after three-and-half-months. “At home, we have the constant habit of washing hands. But once you are at work, you can’t do that. But then, all possible safety precautions were taken. I even used to sanitize my water bottle. But once we reached the shooting floor with make-up, you tend to forget everything. If you need to hold an actor’s hand for a shot, you need to do that,” the Durgeshgorer Guptodhon actor says.
Up next, Ishaa will be seen in Sohobashe alongside Anubhav Kanjilal and Golondaaz, the big sports film with Dev. But ask Ishaa when shooting of Golondaaz will resume, and she says, “It’s not possible to shoot Golondaaz with just 35 cast and crew members. So, once things normalize, I am told we will return to the floor.”