Every day is spent in Tolipara from morning to night. Back home at midnight. Call time again at 7 am. Actress Arijita Mukherjee did not sleep well due to the pressure of shooting for two nights. On the third day, after packing up, the chat started at the studio. Strong black coffee, loose eyes, Arijita opened the bag of stories.
Question: If life is now the honey of neem flowers?
Origita: (Laughs) Just a little bit. I am starting work on a new serial. There are two generations of two mothers-in-law. A married woman at home also has to hear this same thing. I am second generation mother-in-law. After the night of full bed, I only give the tea to the son as before, I don’t give it to the new wife anymore. My mother-in-law took care of him again. Lilidi (Lily Chakraborty) in that role. The dialogue is also there in the teaser – life after marriage is bitter like the honey of neem flower, after that it will be sweet.
Question: Spending a year as a theater instructor in England, carrying on research back home… Why suddenly leave all this and serial?
Origita: Why not? Money had to be earned. Father is very old. I am the sole earner of the house. But I knew from the first day, this work will not be easy. It’s not like a job. Someone will give you the first opportunity, after that you have to make yourself. I gave the jump. I think I could have started acting earlier. The grammar was perfect. From growing up in Santiniketan to studying in Presidency, Jadavpur helped a lot.
Question: Being popular in the series, new film in hand, still working so much in television?
Origita: Every medium is different. Stage is also my favorite since childhood. But met while working on television with a completely unfamiliar audience. Those who do not reside in Calcutta, cafe, intellectual culture. They are actually the majority of the people of the country. He watches television every day. Presenting yourself to them is like taking an exam every week. They are the vote bank of the country. On the day of TRP release my chest trembled. I got emphasis because they liked me. I try to change myself according to what they want.
Q: So the mother-in-law got stuck in the past story, was that the goal?
Origita: Change takes time, I’m still climbing that ladder. Having just come out of politics, I reached out to this community through entertainment. I think it was very important to come here. It was to prove that people can be touched and loved even if they are not beautiful. When people stand up on the street, call my character by name and say ‘I like you’, I feel successful.
Q: Have you ever heard of the appearance in the industry?
Origita: Father! I was turned down from several jobs simply because I didn’t look good enough. From co-workers to many in the industry, body-shaming has taken place. As if I was a meat palm! No longer exists! From there I had to prove that I can act. I can do that, and I can do better as time goes by. But that doesn’t mean I won’t lose weight for the character! I never said that. It’s not necessary yet, so come in front of the camera with your own face. I had no problem with fitness either.
Q: ‘Sampoorna’, ‘Indu’ or ‘Kuler Achar’ – your presence in all kinds of roles has left a mark on the minds of the audience. Three years of acting-life has become a barrier to appearance?
Origita: Actually we (artists) are naked. I think the performer’s body should be like that. I will fill myself with the required character. Everyone told me, “You looked so good in Sampoorna.” But no one said, “How fat did you look!” I never heard anyone complain about my appearance even as a female character in “Kuler Achar”. As boring as the character is, so are the people around. I just wanted to make it believable.
Q: Has appearance ever been a curse?
Origita: I am very happy that I am being thought of as such a powerful woman in addition to being a mother-aunt-grandmother on television. I don’t know if it’s because of looks or acting, or both. For example, now I am playing Pramila Laha in ‘Mithai’. Who is using political power to do dirty things every day. This character is a reflection of what is happening around. Earlier, I did a serial called ‘Falna’, where I acted as a gangster and trafficked children. I traveled by lorry with children. The first work ‘Ai Khuku Ai’ also had a close character. I love doing them.
Question: In the next film, you can be proud of your appearance!
Origita: at all I worked in Aritra Mukherjee’s film ‘Fatafati’ under the production of Windows. A dream come true story. Where the main character wants to say that the size of appearance can never exceed the scope of dreams. If people work hard and think honestly, they will reach their goals. That’s the story. Will be released next year. Of course, ‘X=Prem’ is my first film with Srijitdar (Mukhopadhyay). No one saw my face there either. I got appreciation for acting.
Q: Is it possible for main characters to be obese in Bengali like ‘Dum Lagake Haisha’?
Origita: It’s not working like ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’. Heavy looking celebrations are also happening in Bengal. Ananya can be mentioned in ‘Ekannavarti’. Or ‘completely’ me. Cinema is a very powerful medium. Messages can be delivered to everyone. But that message has to be regular. A film like ‘Fatafati’ should not stop at one. Those of us who played such roles, when we are doing other roles, the stereotype is breaking. If people look at good acting without looking at the body, then this day can come.
Q: Miss the stage?
Origita: I do a lot. After returning from England, I started a drama group. I feel good that I have worked in productions like ‘Agashuddhi’, ‘Bhadraja’, ‘Ljajatirtha’, ‘Drstikanya’. But the opportunity to act on the same stage with Chapal Bhaduri changed my outlook on life. After Masters, Shekhar Samaddar’s play ‘Sundar Bibi Pala’ got a call. When I come to the rehearsal, I am also playing the character, and he is moving towards me. I look at him and think, what am I doing! Nothing is happening. Chapalda assured, “It’s going well, just do what you are doing with confidence. Louder. You get the clap.” That word rang in his ears. They are people from another time, I wouldn’t have understood the meaning of the clap unless I heard it from him. I really got applause in the final show. Once, again and again. Still addicted to getting that ‘clap’. I ran under that spell.
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