Interview Bengali

Brahma Janen Gopon Kommoti will spark dialogues on stigmas faced by women, says Soham Majumder

Actor feels it is an important film, whose story needs to told now.  

Photo: Courtesy Soham Majumder's Facebook.

Roushni Sarkar

Lauded for his performance in Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s Kabir Singh (2019), alongside Shahid Kapoor, Soham Majumder is all set to make his debut in Bengali films with first-time director Aritra Mukherjee’s Brahma Janen Gopon Kommoti (2020), presented by Shiboprosad Mukherjee and Nandita Roy’s Windows Production. Featuring Ritabhari Chakraborty as the protagonist Shabari, it attempts to address the stigma attached to women’s participation in religious rituals as well as in other spheres of society. 

At the trailer launch of the film, Majumder spoke about his journey so far, as well as highlighted the importance of a film like Brahma Janen Gopon Kommoti.

We have already seen you playing a crucial character in Kabir Singh. How did your Bengali film debut come about? 

Actually, I called up Shibu-Da (Mukherjee) and told him that I wanted to do a film in Bengal. I shot for Kabir Singh for eight to nine months, speaking continuously in Hindi. It made me miss my mother tongue as well as my hometown. There is no denying that I enjoyed creating new emotions in that film, but the emotions I can portray in a Bengali film are way more intimate for me. Brahma Janen Gopon Kommoti is an important film and I hope many people will be able to relate with the storyline.

Can you please tell us more about your theatre background?

I did contemporary theatre in Bengali, English and Hindi, so that we could reach out to more people. We were trying bridge the gap between cinema-going and theatre-going audience.

How did you get offered Kabir Singh?

I happened to be in Mumbai while working in a Broadway musical, titled Aladdin, when I got to know about the audition for Kabir Singh. I went there and was selected. It was an ethereal experience for me. Though in the film, I was the one to handle Shahid Kapoor, on the sets, he was like my elder brother. He helped a lot in correcting my facial expressions.

Kabir Singh has been severely criticised for its misogynistic content. Now you are playing a crucial character in Brahma Janen Gopon Kommoti, which takes a stand completely opposed to the content of Kabir Singh. What do you have to say about this?

I believe cinema has a social responsibility and everyone is entitled to their opinion about a film. At the same time, the film has been appreciated as well. I feel that it is crucial to tell the story of Brahma Janen Gopon Kommoti now, otherwise it would be too late. But honestly speaking, I did not agree to do the film to balance my position. I did not have such a plan.

Also, I don’t think I had the option to choose while working in Kabir Singh. It would have been sheer stupidity on my part, if I had let go of such an opportunity as a newcomer. At the same time, when one becomes part of a film, one gets a little biased towards the process. I stand by the film, even though it faced a lot of criticism. I know because of its misogynistic approach, a lot of its positive aspects were entirely ignored.

Why do you think Brahma Janen Gopon Kommoti is an important film?

Women still need permission before taking any decision. No matter how successful they are, they need to get married by 26. We don’t understand how deep the roots of patriarchy are, sitting in an urban setting. In urban areas, people talk about independence but don’t practise it in reality. Brahma Janen Gopon Kommoti initiates a dialogue around these stigmas, which I think is very important. I will give you an example. I was reading the script with my mother and entire family. My mother skipped the word ‘periods’ whenever it was mentioned. I then realised the importance of the film in spreading awareness within our families.

The film primarily focuses on the character of Ritabhari. How do you think your character is going to complement hers and help in spreading the message?

I think you have watched Sholay (1975), in which Gabbar Singh has a very brief appearance. And yet it was indispensable. I don’t believe in terms like protagonist, antagonist, as long as a character is making impact in a story. I think the audience will decide best how my character complements Ritabhari’s and helps spread the message of the film.

Will you be balancing between the Bengali and Hindi film industry from now onwards?

I will try my best to do that. But not only for Hindi and Bengal. I would also like to do films in other languages as well. The more I reach out to people, the better it is. But Kolkata will always be my home. I wish to stick to my culture through films. Cinema is a projection of our reality.

How was the experience of working with Ritabhari?

She is not only an amazing actress, but is also a supportive co-actor. We gave each other the space to contribute to each sequence. Our director also helped us to create that space. We did workshops so that we could become comfortable with each other as we were not acquainted before this film.

How helpful was Shiboprosad on the sets?

The reason that he is so successful is that he listens to everybody. He pays attention to everybody, without sticking to ideas by people of his generation. It's for that same reason, he is relevant, despite working for the past 20 years. He did not really come to the sets as he insisted that Aritra should direct the film on his own. He helped us in many ways behind the picture.

Brahma Janen Gopon Kommoti is set to be released on 6 March.