There are no commercial or parallel films, there are only good and bad films: Koel Mallick

Anindya caught up with the megastar Koel Mallick herself to discuss her career and her work in Rawkto Rawhosyo before its release on 21st October. Rawkto Rawhosyo is one of those handful of movies to release in theatres ever since the Cinemas were closed due to the ongoing pandemic of Covid-19. Many cinema aficionados in Bengal have been keeping a close eye on this Soukarya Ghoshal directorial after loving his critically appreciated last film Rainbow Jelly. Starring Koel Mallick, Rawkto Rawhosyo has already generated quite a buzz in town. 


Edited Excerpts from the interview:

Anindya: This has become one of the cliche questions for you now, but in some cases we still have to rely on cliches, let me go ahead and ask this cliche question. Your career is now an illustrious 17 year long career. But when you were on a film set for the first time as a professional actor, what was the feeling like?

Koel: I don ‘t know how much of a ‘professional’ actor I was, but I can definitely say I was there as an actor. I was in college then as though I expressed my desire to be an actor to my father, my family did not want me to get distracted from studies. So, when I was offered Nater Guru, my father kept emphasizing the responsibility that I would have to take if I took that offer.

Now looking back, I feel I was a very very attention shy individual back then. I was so shy, I used to feel reluctant to go out of the room even when there were more than two guests at our home! So cinema was a totally diametrically opposite space for me in that sense. On the first day, my mother thought that I would not even come out of my make up room. But, somehow, I don’t know how, it eventually became my destiny. 


Anindya: When we talk about the so called Commercial films, though we firmly believe that all films are commercial films, the initial stream of movies you acted in after Nater Guru all fall under that genre. So at that point of time were you selecting the best out of the lot from what was offered to you, or were they all conscious decisions?

Koel: See I don’t really believe in quantity. As an individual if I don’t feel excitement or thrill in the project I won’t enjoy being a part of it. After Nater Guru, my next project was Debipokkho, which was completely different from Nater Guru. So if I am fascinated by the subject and the work of the director only then I would choose to be a part of the project. It’s just a coincidence that all those choices have been similar commercial films. 

Also, I too don’t believe in commercial and non-commercial films, but only in good and bad films. This one is commercial, that one is parallel, this is mid stream, that one is intellectual…..I don’t believe in those many things, I just believe if the story is good then audiences will come and will enjoy the film.

Anindya: We have a natural tendency to intellectualize performances of an actor, like saying that the actor has to get into the character, understand the role, etc. But, we as audiences also tend to forget that, when there are hundreds of people watching you dance on a street during the shoot of a song sequence, then too it takes immense conviction to perform as an actor? In such situations how do you approach roles where you have to perform that way, and where you don’t?

Koel: This in fact, I feel is a little more difficult, because few things are really unconvincing as an individual, like suddenly going to Switzerland in a dream sequence. But, in such situations, if I can’t convince myself then its really difficult. I remember doing one such sequence in Milan, and that was a Rose day, so there were people everywhere carrying roses. But, once the camera turns on, I don’t think who are behind it. I just get into my zone and nothing happening behind the camera ever bothers me. Of course, if my vision is blocked, like a photographer continuously taking a picture, then I would request the technicians for help, otherwise it just doesn’t bother me. Also, the maturity coming from experience makes you realize that you have to focus on the work, else even if there is a single mistake, it will stay forever on film. This is just a part of my professional side that helps me focus on the scene and on nothing behind the camera.


Anindya: We are in the middle of a shift, where we are looking at the evolution of a neo popular medium and content. You too have been part of such contents and have done Hemlock Society, Mitin Mashi and you are now doing Rawkto Rawhosyo. How to you perceive this shift as a producer?

Koel: It’s a great thing…it’s a fantastic thing. There was a time when we used to think twice before picking a subject, thinking if the audiences will like it. But, thankfully the audiences have matured so much that we dont have to think that way. Audiences are now able to consume a wide variety of contents. Earlier, there was a line as to what can and cannot be shown, but now the audiences are mature enough to handle all kinds of content. The primary reason is that the society itself has changed, and since films are just reflections of society, films too have changed. For example, the empowerment of women in society now reflects in films and we see more women centric films now than before. 


Anindya: Since you got to work with Soukarya in Rawkto Rawhosyo, how much leeway did he provide to explore your character? For example, when Soukarya gets what he wants and okays the take, but you feel you can add more with another take, what happens then?

Koel: Soukarya is a delight to work with. This is the first time I worked with him. Immensely talented director. He is completely dedicated to his work, and his complete attention is on each scene, every detail and on each nuance of the scene during work. I saw Rainbow Jelly and I just loved it, it was such an amazing film.

During the shoot, I realized that this man lives on cinema. Without that kind of passion it would be impossible to do what he did. I remember there was a scene with the police, where he got his take, but when I asked for another take, he did allow. So to work together I believe one must have this kind of understanding within them, also since cinema eventually is a collaborative art form, it’s after all team work.

Watch the full interview on youtube channel of Cybertalkies.