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Interview Hindi

Didn’t choose The Whistleblower, the show chose me, says Ritwik Bhowmik

The actor speaks about his character and the process of shooting for the series and also whether Bandish Bandits will return for a second season.

Ritwik Bhowmik

Keyur Seta

The name Ritwik Bhowmik wasn’t known to many before August 2020. But once the Amazon Prime Video web-series Bandish Bandits was released, few remained ignorant of the actor or the show.

Bhowmik's admirers then began awaiting word on his next project. But the wait extended for more than a year as his next web-series, The Whistleblower, was released last week on SonyLIV. As the actor joked in an exclusive interview with Cinestaan.com, “Even I have been waiting to see myself again.”

While Bandish Bandits revolved around Indian classical music, the subject of The Whistleblower is very different. The show, directed by Manoj Pillai, focuses on a scam in the field of medical education. Naturally, Bhowmik’s character here is very different from the role that brought him to public attention.

In the interview, the young actor spoke at length about Dr Sanket, the character he plays, and the process of shooting for The Whistleblower. He also answered the question of whether Bandish Bandits will return for another season. Excerpts:

You must have received quite a few offers after Bandish Bandits. What was the reason for accepting The Whistleblower?

This [show] happened two months after Bandish Bandits released. At that time, I wasn’t even thinking that I should read a script and choose. I was just waiting for people to come up with whatever they wanted to come up with. SonyLIV and Studio Next came to me with The Whistleblower and I was absolutely mind-blown with the script. I was so excited. After having met the director Manoj Pillai, I got more excited when he told me what treatment he wants to go with, how he wants to tell the story and how he looks at his characters. It was so beautiful.

Ritwik Bhowmik in The Whistleblower

So, honestly, I did not choose The Whistleblower; just like Bandish Bandits, the Whistleblower chose me. I can only be grateful and thankful that they thought I could pull off a part like this. I don’t know whether I have done a good job as I haven’t seen the show yet. I just know that I have enjoyed the process and learnt a lot on this project. And I am lucky that The Whistleblower happened to me.

What exactly is the show about and what’s your character?

I am playing Dr Sanket. He is born with a [proverbial] silver spoon. He is from a rich family and has stayed in luxury. But none of these things ever made him complacent or comfortable. He has always been a good student, a good doctor and a go-getter. He has been fantastic with everything that he does. He has never taken his luxury for granted.

But what happens with people who excel all the time is that they get bored of themselves. That’s when you start looking for excitement elsewhere and outside. And in that search for excitement, he gets involved in a honey trap. What happens from there on and how his life and that of people around him change is what The Whistleblower is about.

What was the most challenging aspect of the show?

When I had auditioned for Dr Sanket, I had read only two scenes. After reading those scenes, I realized Dr Sanket is a complex and extremely layered character and I thought it would be very challenging. But more than challenging, it was exciting, because when I read the script, I realized that the 500 pages of a novel the writers have written are so detailed and intricately written; like every small thing about every character. After a point of time, it becomes very simple for the actor because everything is laid out on paper for you. I was literally given a presentation of what the show and the character are going to be like.

That kind of approach to anybody’s work goes beyond challenging. It becomes surreal after a point. So, I couldn’t see the challenge any more. I could only see the excitement and passion the creators came with. And that got me really kicked.

How easy or challenging was it working with senior artistes like Sonali Kulkarni, Sachin Khedekar and Ravi Kishan?

It wasn’t challenging from any angle. These are some of the nicest people and warmest colleagues to work with. I am one of the lucky actors in The Whistleblower who got to perform with all the three names you took. I consider myself one of the luckiest persons on the planet because who in project after project gets to work with stalwarts. [Bhowmik worked with Naseeruddin Shah in Bandish Bandits.] You always come out as a learned and fresh student. Not for a second did these actors ever make me feel uncomfortable or come in with the air that ‘I am senior to you’. They always treated me as an equal.

Hopefully, one day if I also work for those many years or decades, if that’s written in my destiny, I will turn out to be an actor who has the kind of clarity all these three senior actors showed. I really wish to imbibe that.

Were you more at ease during the shoot because you had already done Bandish Bandits?

Honestly, when you are shooting, you don’t get such thoughts. At that time, you are in the moment and just enjoying being on that project and working with the people you are working with and performing the way you want to perform. But I must confess that when the release was nearing, I was all nerves. At that time, I felt pressure thinking I don’t know how I have done. I was confident that my director is making a good show, but I didn’t know how I had performed and whether I had lived up to their vision. I am glad that the creators and director are happy with me.

Ritwik Bhowmik and Shreya Chaudhry in Bandish Bandits

What will your criteria be for signing projects in the future?

I just had a khurafati [mischievous] thought and I was about to say money (laughs). But no, honestly, whatever work I have done till now, it is the work that has chosen me and not the other way round. And the result of it has come through destiny. None of it was through a strategy or decision-making. From here on, after The Whistleblower, I will only do the work that chooses me. Right now whatever work I am doing is coming out of a gut feeling and destiny and I just want my career graph to move on the same track.

Did life change after Bandish Bandits?

More than any other change, I became busy (laughs). I am still living the same regular life that I wanted to live. I am happy and would like to continue being the person I am. At the same time, I also want to continue working the way I am. I have no complaints. All I am feeling on a daily basis is happiness. Touch wood, I don’t want to jinx it.

Will there be a second season of Bandish Bandits?

Mmm... is there? That’s for me to know and you to find out (pauses). Hopefully, very soon.

Any other projects in the pipeline?

Well, there is a project that’s almost out of the pipeline, but I can’t speak about it right now. There will be a right time when I will be able to talk to you about it in detail. So let’s speak then.

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