Subrat Dutta is one of the finest character actors who has been part of Bollywood as well as Bengali films in a huge way. He is basking in the success of his latest web series, Byomkesh. Excerpts from the conversation…
Tell us a bit about this new web series you are working on, Byomkesh.
Everybody knows about Byomkesh Bakshi. This is just another platform. The innovative thing this time is that anybody in the world can watch this. There is no need to go to the cinema halls. Anyone carrying a smart phone can watch it at any time. Byomkesh is always popular. I am super excited about this.
You play Ajit Banerjee. Anirban plays Byomkesh. The chemistry between these two characters needs to be great else, the series would never work. Did you know Anirban from before?
Not at all. He is a professional actor and so am I. So it takes just a few hours for us to bring that chemistry out. Anirban is a really good actor, very talented and dedicated. So it was very easy for me as everyone was so professional on sets. Most of the work was done by the fantastic writing, and we as actors just had to follow steps.
Have you read Byomesh Bakshi stories before?
Who hasn’t? As a young boy growing up in Kolkata, Byomkesh and Feluda used to be the most favourites. However, now that we are not in touch that much, I am re-reading the stories via this web series.
Byomkesh the book has about 32 different detective stories. Which ones have been worked on in this web series?
In the first episode, two stories were adapted, and in the next another two stories were adapted. I didn’t try to be judgmental, and I tried to follow whatever was the vision of the writer and director. I simply follow the script.
How many episodes are there in the web series?
We shot for two episodes which comprised of four stories. Now that these have become a massive hit on social media, we are looking forward to shoot others too. The new episodes are to be shot in the first and second week of this month.
Byomkesh Bakshi has been made into cinema time and again. In Bengali, Hindi and many TV shows. Which Byomkesh has been your favourite?
(Laughs) Many of them who have played Byomkesh are really good friends with me. So as a professional actor, I should take sides like this. But what I feel is that whoever has played the character suited it to perfection and that’s why the director went ahead with making it.
Talking about web-shows, how different are web shows from TV or movies you are shooting?
It’s 2017. There is no choice. If you have great content you can shoot it for any platform. You have Netflix, you have Amazon, you have Hoichoi, and there are so many others. Audience nowadays don’t care at all about where it’s being shown. They just want to have a good content shown to them. If the content is good, people are ready to watch. There is a lack of good content in our country. You can’t deny that everyone is carrying a smart phone and to go to a multiplex it needs a lot of time and money. I think web is the future, an no one can deny that.
You have worked considerably in Bollywood as well. How different are the working cultures in Bollywood and Bengali films?
It’s like you have a samosa on a road side shop, you have it at a small restaurant and you have it at a 5-star hotel – it doesn’t matter. The main difference is just the budget, that’s all. Thereby quality will be different. Also, it depends on the audience base. The larger your audience base, the more money you can pump into a project. The Bengali market is really small, whereas the Hindi market is huge. That’s the basic difference I can see.
Now that you are talking about good content, do you think such kind of a web show would have been possible five or ten years back?
No. The main thing is that then there were no smart phones or smart TV’s. So audiences were not getting to see shows which had great content on international platforms like Netflix and Amazon. Now they have an access to that, and if you don’t give them great content on celluloid, they will surely move on to better content on the web. People are more aware now. Now the quality has to be really good so as to grab the attention of the audience. Only if you give audiences good content like a Shubh Mangal Saavdhan or a Hindi Medium or a Newton, then they will reciprocate back by coming in huge numbers, and the films will do good business.