Chandan Roy Sanyal: “I’m old-school; it’s not difficult to go back to a period setting”

Ushnota Paul


Chandan Roy Sanyal plays a Bengali government school teacher named Ananda Lahiri who aspires to be an investigative journalist, in Ravi Adhikari’s web feature film ‘Dheet Patangey’ on Hotstar. Set against the backdrop of the 1983 cricket world cup, the 1 hour-54 minutes buddy travel film revolves around the story of four friends who are trying to make it big in their lives. caught up with the actor for an exclusive chat about the film.

How did you get the look of your character with a moustache and glasses set in the 1980s right?
My director Ravi Adhikari sort of had an idea on how to do it, he had designed how the characters are going to look. My character’s name is Ananda Lahiri, I had given the name to this part and I suggested, ‘Why don’t we make him, not really a caricaturish Bengali guy, but a serious Bengali guy living in Bombay?’ He is basically a primary school teacher but he wants to be a journalist. So we brought in a typical Bengali square-framed glasses which I remember my meshomoshai (uncle) used to wear, he used to work in the Delhi government at that time when I was growing up in the 80s. The way I look in this is exactly how my boro meshomoshai used to look during that time, he used to wear bell bottom pants, have this briefcase with files in it and have machh-bhaat (fish curry and rice) in the morning. He used to put on these dark black glasses and go to his office and wear his lungi and ganjee after coming back home. I borrowed these from my memories. On my fridge, along with fridge magnets, I have a collage of black-and-white photographs of my mother, aunts, uncles from the 1960s or 1980s. So somewhere in my mind, I’m old-school, so it is not too difficult for me to go back to a period setting.

The movie has been shot at various locations from Mumbai, Himachal Pradesh, Agra, Chambal to Goa. How was the experience?
It’s fun traveling but we were traveling during the summers in India, so that’s not too much fun! But the moment we reached the mountains, it was very nice. It was very hot in Goa and Agra. We were also shooting in the hinterlands of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh… Tillotama (Shome) was shooting with us when we shot in Chambal, she plays a dacoit in the film. We used to travel from Agra to Chambal to shoot when the temperature used to touch almost 50 degrees. These were action scenes so it was very intense.

What attracted you about the script of ‘Dheet Patangey’?
It is Ravi’s first feature film and the film is based on cricket, Ravi is an avid cricket fan and he had a lot of ideas, details and information on it. When I read the part, I thought I could bring something to the film.

Is it different as an actor when you shoot for a web film as opposed to a feature film?
No, we shot it like a proper full-length feature film, there’s nothing different in terms of the lens, the camera, the locations.

How was it working with an ensemble cast?
There’s Shivin (Narang) who does a lot of television shows, Ali (Murad) who is Raza Murad’s son and this is his debut film, Hardik (Sanghani) who does Gujarati theatre and films. We had all become very good friends and we even have a WhatsApp group called ‘The Dheets’ (laughs). There were a lot of different kinds of energy, experience, style and methods of acting. I was talking to Shivin the other day and I told him, ‘If I see your first day’s scene and your last day’s scene, I can see the difference in how you approach a scene’. Achhe dost ban gaye sab.

Are you a big consumer of content on the OTT platforms?
Yes, but I’m very choosy about web series’, I don’t watch a lot of series because otherwise I miss out on watching films. For years, I watch at least one film a day, there’s so much to watch on Netflix, Hotstar, Amazon Prime or Mubi. Recently, I watched this series called Escape at Dannemora on Hotstar directed by Ben Stiller and it stars Benicio del Toro, Patricia Arquette and Paul Dano. It’s about these convicts in a jail and they’re planning an escape, it’s a eight part mini-series and I think Benicio del Toro has acted so well that I was tripping on him for a week. That’s one show I recently watched and fell in love with. I also watched Adam Sandler’s Uncut Gems on Netflix recently and it’s really nice.

What other projects are you working on now?
I’ve a web-series directed by Prakash Jha called Ashram that also stars Bobby Deol, it’s going to come out on MX Player. I also have a Bengali film called Rowkto Rahosyo with Koel Mallick, a film called Deep Six with Tillotama Shome, my director Madhuja Mukherjee told me that deep six is apparently a state of mind when you’re under the ocean! Also, a bilingual Hindi and Bengali series Kaali 2 with Paoli Dam came out on Zee5.

What do you keep in mind these days while selecting a project?
There’s no such criteria, it has to be a good script or be a great director or be something challenging that I’ve not done before. Even if I’ve done something before and I think I can better it and play around it, then I do it.

‘Dheet Patangey’ is now streaming on Hotstar.