Actor Abhishek Banerjee has been making waves in the showbiz with spectacular performances in Bollywood films like Stree, Dream Girl and web show Paatal Lok. While he has already mesmerised the audience with his grip on comedy, Banerjee is all set to play the role of Eeshit, a lawyer fighting against unjust in the upcoming movie 'Rashmi Rocket.' Starring Taapsee Pannu, the film is based on a fast runner who dreams of crossing the finish line as an athlete. However, everything changes when her career comes to a dead end after she is asked to undergo a gender test. Abhishek Banerjee's character, Eeshit, fights for her and encourages Taapsee's character to stand for herself. In an exclusive chat with India TV, actor Abhishek Banerjee opened up about his experience of joining the iconic list of on-screen lawyers that Bollywood has. In addition, he also spoke about his journey to fame starting from being a casting director to now an actor.
Here are the excerpts-
- Rashmi Rocket trailer gives an intriguing sneak peek into your character as a lawyer. What made you say yes to the film considering Taapsee Pannu is the face and you will influence the script much later?
(When signing the film) I always look at my character. I always look at what my character is doing and what I can do with it. It is very pivotal to the script. Eeshit (his character) is basically a guy who wants to fight for a cause, wants to fight for an athlete and what a great opportunity to understand a human being like that, who goes out of the way to help people, to bring about a change in the society. So I related a lot with my character. Playing a lawyer is easy but to understand a person is difficult. I enjoyed it a lot and I hope the audience receive it well and enjoys the film.
- Who was your inspiration while preparing for this character?
Inspiration for the character I don't take. I take inspiration from actors and I keep them with me and then use myself as an actor to bring out characters that are probably different from others. As an actor, I have been inspired by a lawyer as a character for a long time. Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men, Mr Bachchan in Pink, Rajkummar Rao in Shahid, Sunny Deol in Damini. These have always been interesting lawyer characters in the film industry to take inspiration from. I have tried to add to the list of these iconic performances with mine.
- We have already seen Amitabh Bachchan as a lawyer fighting for women in Pink. Is your character similar to his?
Bachchan Sahab is God. I have learned so much from him and grown up watching him. He is a big screen himself. I tried to remove my memory of his performance because his speech is so addictive that you end up performing like him sometimes.
Both (Deepak Sehgal and Eeshit) are very different. In Pink, you saw a lawyer who has retired, who has done a lot in regards to the law, who has been a respected lawyer all his life. Eeshit is completely a new guy. He is completely a nervous guy. He doesn't know how to win cases. This is the first big case that he is fighting for. So, there is a huge dissimilarity between the two characters.
But what both are trying to do, one with experience and one with dedication, is that they are trying to fight the unjust. That's the only similarity you need in a good lawyer.
- People loved your comic timing in Stree. However, you followed it with serious roles in Pataal Lok and now in Rashmi Rocket. Is it a conscious decision to not get stereotyped in comedy roles?
Yes, it is. I don't want to do only comedy. I enjoy comedy but I also find it very difficult. Comedy is something that is very dependent. If the writer hasn't written a good comedy, the actor won't be able to pull it off no matter how hard he tried. I know that and I believe in that. So, I want to be a part of a comedy that is really funny. If I don't find it funny then it will be very difficult for me to do. Also after Stree, Dream Girl and Bala, all three successful films, people would look at me as a comedy actor or somebody who will play a certain kind of role. But I am a trained actor and I have worked on my craft for a long time and I still work on it. I keep trying to think of new things and new ideas or performances. So I would like to take myself as an actor who would want to do different kinds of roles and be in different kinds of projects, varied genres, varied films, different languages, different filmmakers.
- You have worked a lot on OTT. Do you credit your success to the platform? Also, what would you call a life-changing moment in your career?
In these three years, the first life-changing moment was Stree, the character of Jaana, and the second was Paatal Lok (Vishal 'Hathoda' Tyagi). Jaana made me famous in the film industry and people starting noticing me. I started to get many acting offers. While Hathoda Tyagi made me famous among the audience. Because of these two films, I am being able to get the kind of roles I am getting. And idea is to continue doing the good work.
In this short span of three years, what I have understood is not to think too much and join with people who are doing good work. Rest whatever happens is destiny.
- You have popular films like No One Killed Jessica, Secret Superstar, The Dirty Picture and others credited to your name as a casting director. How was the transition from picking the cast to being a part of the cast?
Actually, there was no transition, I was always an actor. When I came to Mumbai, I started doing whatever work I got to run the house. I got the opportunity to become a casting director and I was good at it, so people started giving me independent films. Par acting ka bhoot to hmesha se hi tha. I used to give out selection calls but never got selected myself. I could also feel the pain of the people rejected. How difficult it is to motivate yourself daily, give auditions and then get rejected. And then you wait for a day when you get selected.
After a long process like this, Amar Kaushik (filmmaker) gave me a part in his film after I auditioned for him. I got selected only after my audition was liked and approved by big filmmakers like Dinesh Vijan and Raj & DK. After 8 long years, the actor in me got selected.
That's why I say, an audition is not a blind process. Magic happens there sometimes. It is a very shared process and a very important process. One should not be afraid of it and should also not take it at heart. It is just like any work that should be done.
Produced by Ronnie Screwvala, Neha Anand and Pranjal Khandhdiya, written by Nanda Periyasamy, Aniruddha Guha and Kanika Dhillon and directed by Akarsh Khurana, Rashmi Rocket also stars Supriya Pathak, Abhishek Banerjee, Priyanshu Painyuli and Supriya Pilgaonkar. It will be released on ZEE5 on 15 October.