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Interview Bengali

Ebhabei Golpo Hok is all about hope, says lead actor Ananda S Choudhury

Television actor Ananda Sankar Choudhury talks about his first film as leading man and being directed by a 19-year-old first-time filmmaker.

Ananda Sankar Choudhury (right) with Bibriti Chatterjee and Rohan Sen

Roushni Sarkar

Ananda S Choudhury, a popular face on Bengali television, is all set to appear as the leading man in Rohan Sen’s debut feature Ebhabei Golpo Hok, also starring Bibriti Chatterjee, Joy Sengupta and Santilal Mukherjee.

In the film, with a story-within-a-story structure, Choudhury plays the writer Siddhartha who falls in love with Laboni (Chatterjee). He is passionate about her; however, he fails to be decisive when he needs to commit to the relationship.

Siddhartha’s life changes as they separate and his unfinished story inspires a filmmaker, played by Joy Sengupta, to make a romantic movie. The rest of the film revolves around all the characters who strive to complete the unfinished story.

At the launch of the trailer for the film on 25 February, Choudhury spoke about his career so far and shared his experience of working in the film. The film, whose release had to be postponed on account of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year, is finally set to hit the screens on Friday 15 October. Excerpts:

How did your shift from a career in information technology to television come about?

My first work on television was in a series titled Chokher Tara Tui, which was telecast on Star Jalsa. I was in the fourth year [of engineering] at the BP Poddar Institute of Management and Technology when I got the offer. After that I got a job at Cognizant and decided to continue with it, along with my television career.

In 2016, I left my job and plunged fully into my acting career with the series Bhakter Bhagaban Shri Krishna. It was quite difficult to balance my office timings with my shooting schedules as there was no strict time limit for shooting. My boss was kind enough to grant me leave, but I realized that I was hampering the work culture there. Also, I was not really passionate about the job because the subject I had studied had no connection with it. When I was transferred to Chennai, I decided to quit.

How did you get your first offer?

I used to do theatre in school in Malda and was also involved with theatre groups there, though there was limited scope then. I shifted to Kolkata in 2010 to complete my BTech and was not thinking about my acting career.

However, when the pressure of studying got a little lighter in the fourth year, I went to the office of Star Jalsa and submitted my pictures. I did not know anybody, nor did anybody refer me to anyone. I did some research online, got the address and submitted my pictures at the office. They called me up and eventually I started getting more offers as I started doing Chokher Tara Tui.

How did you get acquainted with Rohan Sen?

I got acquainted with him through our executive producer Debarghya Mukherjee. Rohan read out the script to me when I was doing the series Ami Sirajer Begham. He told me he would require 10 to 18 days to complete the shoot. I told him to inform me beforehand because I had to take a break from my shooting schedules for the television series I was doing then.

You are a known face on television. Didn’t you consider it a risk to start your film career with a first-time filmmaker?

See, before Ebhabei Golpo Hok, I had already worked with Sudeshna Roy and Abhijit Guha in Benche Thakar Gaan (2016) in a cameo character. I had also played the role of Dev Adhikari’s friend in Leena Gangopadhyay and Saibal Banerjee’s Sanjhbati (2019). I know Rohan is only 19 and not an established director, but I was convinced by his script. Also, I have the lead role which drives the entire film. Joy-da and Santi-da’s characters are also very important in the film. But the story is primarily of Siddhartha, supported by the other characters.

How was the experience of working in the film?

Fantastic, especially with Joy-da. I had a few important scenes and had to shoot for two days [with him]. He is extremely supportive. He used to discuss before each and every scene. Rohan has quite a clear vision. I am also honoured to work with a senior actor like Santi-da. Since I and Bibriti are good friends, we could portray our chemistry on screen quite well. On a summer day, we had an intense schedule at different locations and it was quite tough for us. However, we worked like friends for the entire day.

Why do you think the audience should watch the film?

Often in life, we come at a certain juncture when we feel that there is nothing more to expect in terms of love, career or friendship. However, we never know when the journey might start again, at a time when we least expect it. Hence, we should not lose hope. The film is all about that. I think we all love to hope and, at the same time, I hope people would love to get inspired by the story of hope in the film.

What are your next projects?

I have completed shooting and dubbing for Suman Maitra’s Ami O Apu. It is based on Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay’s Pather Panchali. He has primarily taken the characters of Apu and Durga and retained the name of Nischindipur, the rest of the story has been woven by him.