How is it working with Buddhadeb?
Immensely satisfying. I always knew "Kaal Purush" would be a process of deconstruction for me as an actor. It's at a pitch and tempo I haven't done before. The closest I've come to it was in Dev Benegal's "English, August".
There's the same languorous unfolding of the character. No outward action seems to happen. Both "Kaal Purush" and "English, August" are more about the character's journey. In terms of the character's body and rhythm patterns I had to undergo a lot of 'un-training'.
Aside from being Bengali, there're so many physical details to get right. When the guy gets up from his seat to meet his boss, he always tucks in his shirt - a typical middleclass gesture. Or the use of the handkerchief when he comes to work....
How's your Bengali now?
Do I speak perfect Bengali? No one does. The cadences and tempo of the language vary in every social strata. I knew the language. But speaking it fluently was another matter. I had to sit and study the cadences. I make someone from the unit say my lines so that they settle in my head. Buddhadeb's prime preoccupation is the cinema of the moment. He can change the dialogues on the spot if it adds to the contemporary feel.
"Kaal Purush" is more interior-oriented than Buddhadeb's other films. Parts are shot in Bhubaneswar. But this is his most claustrophobic work to date. Hey, I also got to sit on a tram! A 'moving' experience , ha ha. It's such a great way of seeing Kolkata.
And Sameera Reddy?
She's focused, hardworking and easy to get along with. But all my intense scenes are with Mithun Chakraborty who plays my father. I actually saw him approach his role in a way that totally repudiated his star image.
Your next release is the striking "White Noise"?
Yes, on Jan 14, and here again the leading lady takes centre-stage. I consider it my third in my 'passive' trilogy. In "Mr & Mrs Iyer" and "Chameli", I played the strong, silent, supportive male. And yet I saw them as two different people with two different lives. So I succeeded as an actor.
In "White Noise", my character Karan has the maximum subterranean torment. The other two were relatively less troubled. But Karan is pretty messed-up in the head. The biggest challenge for me was - why would my character be attracted to a woman who's a psychotic, alcoholic wreck? I had to give the character some heft. But what really makes "White Noise" interesting is the female protagonist. A character like her hasn't been attempted before in our films.