A character is always more important than the actor

April 23rd, 2009 - 2:56 pm ICT by Sampurn Wire  

The Indian film industry is maturing fast. And one can easily judge it from the number of crossover films being made today. And a number of them are doing well too. Interestingly enough the Indian audience has also matured in more ways than one. They are not content with the hero ad heroine lone, the viewer expects good performance from the characters as well. As a result these actors are getting their due share of fame as well. Cases in point are Rajat Kapoor and Vinay Pathak. Dibyendu Bhattacharya is a name in this list.

With films like Monsoon Wedding, The Rising, Ab Tak Chappan, Black Friday, Goal and Dev D under his belt, actor Dibyendu Bhattacharya has finally made his presence felt in Bollywood. “I have been in this industry for a long time – have been doing plays since 1988. It feels nice to see that character actors are finally being given their due,” says the actor whose film career started in 2000 with the role of Lottery Monsoon Wedding. “Mira Nair personally auditioned me for the movie. After that I acted in Siddharth Srinivasan’sDivyadrishti a film on same sex relationships. I played a gay cop in the movie. Unfortunately, due to Censor Board issues, it could not be released in India. However, director Anurag Kashyap watched the movie and offered me the role of Yeda Yakub in Black Friday,” says the actor whose portrayal of Chunilal in Dev D won him many fans.

Bhattacharya studied in the National School of Drama and had people like Jaya Sil and Rajpal Yadav as his classmates and Pankaj Kapoor and Naseeruddin Shah as teachers. “One big lesson we learned there was that the character is more important than the actor. This is something that has helped me always while acting in films. In fact, this is the reason why people do not recognize me on the streets. Because they are so used to and convinced about my on-screen appearance, they tend to forget that there can be an offscreen Dibyendu Bhattacharya as well! ” says the actor who won a scholarship for his studies at NSD. In fact, after he completed his studies, he started acting in NSD’s theatre group The Repartee Company till 2000, when he came to Mumbai.

“I had to start from scratch in Mumbai and had no Godfathers to help me. I used to go for various auditions and finally I had my chance when I got selected for Monsoon Wedding.Mira Nair personally selected me after seeing my performance in the audition,” says Bhattacharya who went on to do Divya Drishti with director Siddharth Srinivasan after that. “The film was based on a gay cop and had a very bold theme considering the fact that it was made in 2001. I was playing the gap cop and the film had a few bold scenes and as a result never saw light of the day. Divya Drishti got canned,” says a sad Bhattacharya.

Director Anurag Kashyap watched this movie in a private screening and liked Bhattacharya’s performance. “We met each other and slowly became good friends since our passion for films was similar,” the actor fondly remembers his initial days with the director who gave him the famous role of Yeda Yakub in Black Friday. He went on to do a number of films after that, but Yeda Yakub gave him the fame and recognition he wanted. “I think anyone who has watched Black Friday will not be able to forget my role. Immediately after this I got the offer to play Chunilal in DevD. Being a Bngali, I had read Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s novel Devdas many times. But when I did the role of Chunilal, I thought of it as Anurag’s Dev D and not the famous Bengali novel. I think that was the key to my success in the role,” says the actor who sported a ponytail for the film. “The entire characterisation of Chunilal, including looks, was conceived by Anurag and me jointly,” says Bhattacharya who is eagerly waiting for his next releases – Saloon (a comedy) and Soul of the Sand (already released in various film festivals). -Sampurn Media

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