Abhishek Banerjee is working at his own pace, not rushing or getting greedy for projects, but making sure there’s quality acting and good stories in the projects he chooses for himself. As he turned 37 recently, the actor opened up in an exclusive chat with ETimes reflecting on his journey thus far and the kind of projects and movies he’s keen on working in. Excerpts:
Looking back as you turn 37, do you think you’ve accomplished what you had to by now?
Well, I’ve not given myself enough time for this thought. But yeah, now that you ask, I thought my acting phase will start from 40. I’m very happy that it started much earlier. And I’m in a better space than what I was years back. So yeah, definitely I am really grateful.
Like in my 20s, I wanted to try acting and I was not really happy with whatever I was doing, and also the kind of roles I was being offered. So that really didn’t work out for me in my 20s, and then in my 30s, I decided to start my casting company ‘Casting Bay’ and started to take up entrepreneurship roles. And then eventually acting happened, and you know the best part? I am playing characters who are much younger than me. What better than to be able to live your younger self on screen, it’s a great feeling.
What have been you biggest takeaways in this journey so far?
Hard work will always be rewarded, that’s what I’ve understood. The next thing that I’ve understood is that if you have good command over your craft, if you’re a natural-born actor, then nothing can stop you, you will always find your foot here. That’s what I’ve been seeing around me. The hardworking and naturally born actors are the ones who have just skyrocketed in the last three or four years. They all are trained actors. And even if they’re not trained, they are natural. So the time has changed and that’s a great sign because I used to always tell to everybody that what we lack in India is the value of skilled-trained actors.
‘Paatal Lok’ will be completing 2 years. Any fond memories?
I think the first memory was that the trailer was released on my birthday. And everything about that show, I think those are going to be the memories, which you’re going to die with, you know, like, everything from the day one of the shoots when I was nervous, last day of the shoot when I was exhausted.
Even now I keep saying that was one of the best teams that I’ve ever worked with — the vision they had, the passion they had, everybody knew that we are going to make something special. We didn’t know that it’s going to blow up and go become a viral show or such a popular show. We only wanted to do some good work, we did not know that the audience would support us or not, because we did not have the stars and everything in our show. So now, when it’s worked out, so you start believing that you don’t really need support from anybody, you can just do it by yourself if you have the right capability.
You’ll be seen playing a romantic lead in the ‘The Great Wedding of Munnes‘. So from playing out and out dark characters to becoming a romantic hero, how excited are you to explore those emotions?
I mean, the thing is that, I’ve not been offered a role like Hathora Tyagi or a romantic hero for that matter. I’ve always wanted to do stuff which ain’t repetitive. I love experimenting with myself. So I am really excited to receive the responses from the fans, viewers and critics. I’ve grown up in the 90s. So obviously, romance was a big part in 90s along with comedy. I am so happy that a story like ‘The Great Wedding of Munnes’ came up to me because I had a great time doing those romantic scenes, the drama along with the comedy.
OTT or Bollywood — one medium that you’d prefer more ?
Being a director’s actor, well, I’d say screenplay… I mean, any good story, whether that story is in the form of a short film, or whether that story is the form of cinema, a movie or anything… anything which has a good story. I think that’s what you’re willing to look forward to. That’s what I’m realising day by day. Good stories and good screenplays are rare to find today. I’m happy doing whatever I’m doing. But I’m always looking for good stories and good screenplays — stuff which allows you to explore the unknown as an actor.
How do you look at the evolution of OTT? Is it going in the right direction?
Honestly, one never knew there would be so many stories and so many actors, and so many talented faces coming up. I’m glad that there’s work for everybody today. Earlier it was a medium, which was looked down upon. When it started, people used to call it the YouTube show, the YouTube series or the YouTube actors. I remember I had rejected an offer from a similar platform, because they’d release the show on YouTube. But now, I am so glad that I had taken that leap of faith and entered the digital space.