Dibyendu Bhattacharya on boycott Bollywood: 'There are so many things other than cinema, why don’t we boycott them'
In an exclusive interview with Firstpost, the actor speaks about his over two decade long journey, how OTT has resuscitated his professional space and given him a new lease of life, and the actor also has a very interesting take on what we call the trend of Boycott Bollywood.
Dibyendu Bhattacharya is one actor we often encountered in films but seldom paid attention to. It only happens when writers and directors want our attention to fall on underdogs like him. He’s no longer one. He’s currently on a dream run with one dream role after another. In an exclusive interview with Firstpost, he speaks about his over two decade long journey, how OTT has resuscitated his professional space and given him a new lease of life, and the actor also has a very interesting take on what we call the trend of Boycott Bollywood.
From Monsoon Wedding to Khuda Hafiz: Chapter 2, it has been more than two decades as an actor. How do you feel about your journey?
It feels good. It has been over 22 years since I came to Mumbai, before that, I was in Delhi for seven years and before that, in Kolkatta for eight years. So it has been a total of 38 years already. Ups and downs are the part and parcel of life. When I had no work, I used to do other chores like cooking food and all, then we used to step out, travel from one studio to another and distribute our photographs. I don’t want to call all of this a struggle, I call it a journey. We glorify everything by calling it a struggle. Everyone has struggles in life. I don’t have that much of a struggle.
You have explored the space of noir many times in your career, be it Dev D or The Gone Game or Undekhi or Criminal Justice. How fascinated are you with this genre as an actor?
I’m also dark na (laughs). Who makes dark people like us heroes? Playing the character of Ram suggest goodness and righteousness, but playing Raavan becomes tough. Have you seen Ram Leela in school? The actor who plays Raavan is the most crucial one of the lot, because he adds variations to the role. There’s a lot more scope of acting when you portray shades of grey. And when there’s scope of acting, there’s need for good actors, and when they need good actors, they may give me a chance. I’ve explored the dark alleys for so long. I’ve also done positive roles like Chittagong, was a football player in Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal, I am good police officer in Undekhi, a good scientist in Rocket Boys, a good officer in Maharani who represents righteousness.
Do you feel the space of OTT has given a major boost to the professional space of actors that were not getting the kind of roles they deserved?
The situation of cinema began to change with filmmakers like Ram Gopal Varma. Filmmakers like Shyam Benegal, Govind Nihalani, Sai Paranjape, these were the names that gave true actors real work, actors that came from NSD and FTII. We then had a phase when the star system crept in and it became very difficult for actors to find work. And then came filmmakers like Anurag Kashyap that worked with actors. Cinema has gone through its phases. We can’t go to television because they want certain kind of looks and pattern, especially in daily soaps. The only choices we have are Crime Patrol, Saturday Suspense, Director’s Cut, Sunday Bestsellers. But how much can you show there? Hardly 15-20 minutes. Ever since the advent of OTT, entertainment has entered into the private domain. If you have access and comfort, you can watch any series any time. And these series have an archival value too, unlike television series that vanish once they are over. So today, we have so many OTT platforms and content options. See, no actor or technician has dates today, everyone’s busy.
On one hand, we talk about the evolution of content, and on the other, we want to boycott Bollywood as per social media trends. Do you feel upset as an actor?
I do feel bad, why wouldn’t I? This whole matter of boycott is useless. If you don’t like a film, say it’s a bad film, but why would you boycott it? It’s an art form and it feeds thousands of people, please remember that also. A film doesn’t only belong to an actor or actress, there are thousands of daily wage workers too. If people boycott films, they won’t be made, and if they aren’t made, how would they survive? Another perspective is that this is an art media, the media of point of views, so anyone who says one should boycott Bollywood, they don’t have anything else to do. There are so many other things in society that one should boycott, why are you not doing that? Why are you after cinema? I feel bad. This industry belongs to everyone, it’s an open space.
What is the difference between the three mediums that you have worked in- Films, Television and OTT?
As far as television is concerned, I’ve not acted in those typical daily soaps. I’ve done an English show called The Man’s World and then, I was the main antagonist of the show 24. I don’t see any difference between the mediums. OTT is just like cinema in terms of shooting style. I work with the same intensity in all the mediums, including theatre.
Which are the closest characters to your heart?
All of them, even the small ones. I don’t differentiate between them. I may play different characters, but I’m speaking the same way, acting the same way, so I don’t understand such kind of performances. Playing smaller roles is far more challenging because your director wants you to knock it out of the park in just two scenes, which is very difficult. Audiences like Undekhi, Jamtara, Rocket Boys, Looop Lapeta, Maharani 2. All my characters are different, be it Dev D or Black Friday.
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