Bengali actor Debashis Roy is enjoying the success of his film Aparajito, a tribute to legendary director Satyajit Ray released on the centenary of his birth. Directed by Anik Datta, the film stars actor Jitu Kamal as Ray and Debashi as his cinematographer, Subir Mitra (based on Subrata Mitra). national awards. Debachis Roy spoke about working with Anik Datta, Jeetu Kamal, his struggles in the acting industry and what has changed in him since the film’s success. Excerpts:
How did you get on board Anik Datta for Aparajito?
It was completely unpredictable and unexpected. After the first wave of Covid-19, I knew there were a lot of challenges for actors to face. So before Aparajito I did Bengali films like Switzerland and Brahma Janen Gopon Kommoti but my roles were 2 minutes long or even 60 seconds long. These roles have brought me praise from people like Jeet, Abir Chatterjee. I received a standing ovation from Shrijit Mukjerjee for Dwityo Purush. After that, my hunger for more important roles intensified. I started making random videos during the lockdown. I knew that I was not the so-called hottie to make videos and TikTok videos. I started reading monologues, my first was from Macbeth. It was just a test and it got a massive response, even Australian actor Hal Kosek shared it. I kept sharing videos like this and once played Charlie Chaplin’s final speech from The Dictator in one take. It went viral.
Finally, I began to attract the attention of directors. That’s how my godfather Anik Datta noticed me. He contacted me to use one of my videos. During our conversation on the phone, he told me that he would have me in mind if he needed a character like me in any of his projects. He shared my video and asked people to give me work, no one ever did it for me. It made me even more famous. After blocking, I made two big OTT projects Nirbandhamer Jora Khun and Iskaboner Rani.
How did you audition for the role of Subir Mitra?
In “Aparajito” I was originally invited to a small cameo role as producer Marwadi. I auditioned and Anik Da gave me the part with no problem. Later, Anik Da was looking for someone who was very similar to Subir Mitra. I felt that I could try and wrote to him that I was interested in auditioning. Believe me, I was so nervous and afraid at the same time, but it was he who taught me to be straightforward in my work. I felt like I was risking my job for my greed for a better role.
A week later, all of a sudden, he asked me to send him an audition tape and said, “Listen, Subir Mitra was a very serious person, just try it.” So, I dressed up to match Subir Mitra’s look and submitted my audition tape online. Somewhere in my heart I knew that I would not get the larger role of Subir Mitra, and mentally prepared to return to my smaller role. I was just happy to be part of the Anik Dutt project. Almost a month later, he called me and confirmed my role as Subir Mitra. It was a call that changed my life, it seemed to me that God himself was calling me. When Anik told me the good news, I couldn’t help but scream. I remember at that very moment Anik Da scolded me and told me not to worry too much because Subir Mitra was a very serious person. I was told to keep in mind that he is very passionate about photography and cinematography. I had to learn to be calm and quiet, which was the complete opposite of my real life.
How easy or difficult was it for you to step out of the role of Aparajito?
I can’t say that I quickly got rid of the image of Subir Mitra as soon as we finished filming. Even now, when I see Jita Kamal, I call him Manik Da, that was Satyajit Ray’s nickname. Many times we referred to each other as Manik and Subir without even realizing that in real life we are Debashi and Jitu. In my phone, I saved his name as Satyajit Ray. Even Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s cinematographer Sudeep Chatterjee and even Shyam Benegal praised me for Aparajito. I’m still struggling to get out of my Subir Mitra persona. I try my best because I am an actor and I have to be like clay that can be molded into anything.
Describe Jita Kamal as co-star
Whenever I spoke to Jitu after eye contact, I felt like I was talking to Satyajit Ray. I don’t know if it was because of his manner or appearance. He is a living character.
(Also read: Ray’s unsurpassed masterpiece)
How would you describe your acting path?
I have struggled for 11 years in the industry to get recognized. I tried to look after myself by working in the theater, in short films, or even playing a minor role in the cinema. My first interaction with the public was at my Ratnakar North Point School when I played the part of Santa Claus. It made me realize that I have the ability to entertain and it inspired me to join the theatre. I have played in the theater with such prominent people as the Basu Brothers, Sumitra Basu, Debshankar Halder and others. Unfortunately, I couldn’t pass the exam at the National School of Drama. After theater, when I entered the industry, I was bullied and shamed. People wanted to show me as a thug in TV shows because of my body. I was rejected several times before being cast in a supporting role in Bakcha Shoshur. I worked as low as ₹100 or even a plate of biryani in the Bengali industry.