The killing of Colonel N.S. Simpson inside the Writers' Building by three young revolutionaries -- Benoy Basu, Badal Gupta and Dinesh Gupta -- is a significant episode in the history of the Indian freedom struggle. Though the contributions of many such young martyrs have been immortalised on celluloid -- including Bhagat Singh and Udham Singh -- there is hardly any film on this famous corridor warfare that took place on the second-floor verandah of the Writers' on December 8, 1930. Filmmaker Arun Roy has attempted to capture that fateful day in his film 8/12 which got released just two days back on Republic Day. This film sees thespian and actor Arna Mukherjee playing the dynamic Badal Gupta.
Incidentally, Arna, who has his roots in theatre, is also a part of another patriotic web series, Mukti, that got released on ZEE5 on the same day. We speak to Arna about 8/12 and his other upcoming releases.
Tell us how did you prepare for such an important historical period drama?
Since it is a historical period drama and focuses mainly on the corridor fight and Bengal Volunteers movement, we wanted to ensure that history did not get misrepresented or distorted in the film and our director (Arun Roy) has been very careful about the same. But somewhere the actor's imagination is also put to use to bring the character to life and there we have jointly made an effort to create Badal Gupta, who hails from an ordinary, lower-middle-class family but has a heart filled with love for his country, which turned him into an extraordinary mortal. In the current world of self-immersive social media, the biggest challenge for me was to capture the essence and spirit of such a selfless youth as Badal.
It's your second work with Arun Roy?
Yes, after Hiralal. He is a director who gives artistic space and believes in joint efforts. In Hiralal, he wanted us to deliver the dialogues verbatim but in 8/12 we improvised scenes on the spot with a lot of impromptu discussions.
You also have three more films with Arindam Sil namely, Mahananda, Mayakumari and Khela Jokhon.
Yes, in Mahananda I play a fictional political worker who plays a pivotal role during the land acquisition episode of Mahashweta Devi's life. In Khela Jokhon, too, I have an interesting part but I can't divulge more since it's a thriller.
I was stunned to see how thorough Arindam Sil’s homework was for Mayakumari which was shot as a film within a film, involving a complex shooting process.
Do you think OTTs have opened a new horizon for actors and makers?
It's a blessing and has ushered in a great time for actors like us. There has been a paradigm shift in the acting industry with the advent of OTT. The expanse of work has increased and many actors are surviving by merely doing OTT content, which is a great thing.