The latest addition to the growing list of mainstream actors foraying into the OTT space, Prosenjit Chatterjee made his web debut with Jubilee, and followed it Hansal Mehta’s investigative drama, Scoop. Calling it the “right time” to explore the digital space, the actor feels the medium has moved on from the “sex and violence” phase — that it heavily relied on initially — and is now embracing wholesome stories.
In Jubilee, the actor, mainly known for his work in Bengali cinema, essayed the role of a fictional yesteryear film tycoon, Srikant Roy — a ruthless, ambitious yet vulnerable movie maker. Meanwhile, in Scoop, he portrays the character based on late journalist Jyotirmoy Dey, whose murder in 2011 shook the entire media fraternity. Here, the actor clarifies that he is not looking at “breaking any image through this medium. OTT lets you try out a lot of interesting things. People saw me do different roles and they liked both”.
In a candid chat, Chatterjee opens up about his journey so far and comparisons with other mediums that’s inevitable.
No, it wasn’t. While Jubilee was a very planned thing, I did not know Scoop would be out so soon. Jubilee was pushed almost by a year because of the pandemic. Such decisions are not in my hands. Also, I did Scoop only for Hansal, who is a dear friend.
We can’t sit and plan such things. Like, we didn’t know OTT platforms would be so big in India, or Jubilee would become this big — critically, technically, and commercially. I started my career through Bengali films, and have seen the industry change in the last 40 years. I’m always keen on working with new directors. As an actor, it allows me scope to reinvent. And both these OTT shows did that.
When it comes to Jubilee, was it your love for cinema which pushed you to dive into the space?
Yes, I am a cinema buff. I have studied cinema as I’m from the industry. I understood where my character is coming from and all his actions. There is no positive, no negative, no villains, everybody has their own journey. That is what was the best thing about the series. They were real.
When we say India produces the largest number of films and shows, we are not just talking about Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, or Marathi. But collective projects. With OTT platforms coming in, the best thing we all can say is that we are making Indian content. I might be sitting in Mumbai or Punjab, and making content that will be watched across the country. We are pan India in the true sense because of the medium. In terms of the storytelling, too, there are some stories which directors can’t do [justice to] in cinemas, but digital is a great platform to tell those stories. Not to forget documentation, which isn’t there is case of theatrical releases. For instance, Jubilee, even after 20 years, if somebody wants to watch the show, they can watch it.
Not censorship, but there has to be a way similar to television. The small screen has some rules and regulations. They should be for the OTT world, too. Also, the responsibility lies with the makers about the content they put out. However, I feel that phase has gone. Initially, it was [all] about sex and violence, which is not the case any more, at least not as much as it was earlier. That’s the reason why people are now watching [shows such as] Rocket Boys, Jubilee or Scam 1992. Audiences have also started watching content from a different perspective, which is great.
OTT reaches out to a wider audience base. The vision is the same as television, though it will take some more time to get there.