So, you missed the chance to watch the movie with your audience. But you watched it before the release, didn’t you?
Of course I did. There was a special pre-release screening. I watched it with selected guests. Artist Jogen Chowdhury, poet Joy Goswami and others came to watch it then. They all had praise for the film.
You embodied the role of the poet Jibanananda Das’ wife Labanyaprabha Das in ‘Jhora Palok’. How was your experience acting this role? How did you feel to see yourself as Labanyaprabha Das on screen?
There’s indeed a lot of controversy regarding this character. There are different narratives actually. But, when we went to do the film, tons of research was carried out. Even I myself did some reading. And I actually discovered an entirely different person.
That woman was a good actress herself, you know. She used to act in the theatre. She was quite a scholar. She used to write really well. But, beyond all of that, she actually sacrificed a lot for Jibananabda Das to make his own mark.
Their family was struggling with financial crisis. In actuality, that woman helped a lot, taking up various jobs and was even a tutor. From what I understood, Jibanananda Das seemed like a man devoid of any form of pragmatism. He wasn’t very easy to live with.
This woman didn’t find that much relief in her life, yet she inspired Jibananda in many ways. In this film, we see a depiction of the literary characters created by Jibananda Das through the character I play.
Well, I played dual characters here. The other role I play is of Surangana, who is a contemporary film director. We see different shades through the character of this woman.
Do you have a double role here?
Saying double role doesn’t really sum it up. We get to see several roles through this single woman. It seemed to me, there was a strange chemistry between the couple. It will be clear when you see the movie. You’ll find quite a few characters in this film. Jibanananda Das pictured different characters through this woman.
How tough was it to portray this role onscreen?
It was difficult. To depict those other characters, created by Jibanananda Das I had to read a lot. Plus, there was already the issue of acting from the angle of a woman's psyche. However, poet Joy Goswami and artist Jogen Chowdhury lauded all of our performances.
It’s a work based on a poet’s life. How did it feel to receive appraisal from another poet?
When they praised the work, I felt successful. When they accredited it, it became clear that I could at least do justice to the character. I loved the character quite a lot as well. I had to love it. Because it was this woman, who had shouldered Jibanananda Das and his whole family.
Bratya Basu played the character of Jibanananda Das. It was your first film with him. How well did he play the role of your husband?
Rahul Banerjee played the younger version of Jibanananda Das. But, I did both versions of Labanyaprabha Das. Actually, everyone acted extremely well in their respective roles. To talk about Bratya Basu, he is a minister.
It feels amazing to think, how a person acted like a regular man leaving all of that behind. I don’t know, how much love for a particular character or what level of obligation towards art and culture can make someone go to this extent. It’s a great lesson. He is an institution, not only an actor, he is an intellectual as well, he encompasses it all.
You were saying it was tough to impersonate the poet’s wife. How challenging it is to be the spouse of an artiste?
This role I played, she’s an artiste’s wife actually. Keeping up with an artiste’s fantasies, removed from reality, I have also felt them along the way. To me, living with an artiste for a long time or adapting to it is not quite so simple in reality.
One has to be patient. It requires a different level of patience and tolerance. It is certainly very tough to live with any artiste, if you don’t have an extreme level of love for that person.
Well then, shouldn't the spouses of artistes be given awards too?
It’s true, husbands and wives of artistes deserve to be awarded. Peaceful coexistence is really difficult. I appreciate people who do that. Artiste’s go through a lot of mood swings. I am saying this because I’m an artiste myself.
The character I play in ‘Jhora Palok’, used to live with a person who was quite moody. He almost never faced reality. That’s why I say that I salute all the life partners of artistes, poets and litterateurs with utter respect.