A Tete-a-Tete With Suchitra Aka Veteran Actor Lillette Dubey

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Zee5 premiered Ram Kamal Mukherjee’s directorial “A Tribute To Rituparno Ghosh: Season’s Greetings” on April 15. The tale revolves around a mother and daughter’s sweet relationship, that ends with a twist. Veteran actor Lillette Dubey portrays the role of the mother, while Celina plays the role of the daughter. The film is the comeback of Celina after a long break from Bollywood. Right before the release, Expresso caught Lilltte Dubey to know more about the film and her character in deep.

Expresso: Why did you say yes for Seasons Greetings?

Lilltte Dubey: I had gone to Dubai for an event and  I happened to meet Ram Kamal Mukherjee who was there as well to promote his film ‘Cakewalk’. We met in the hotel coffee shop while I was waiting for someone, and he came across and said he wanted to narrate the story of ‘Seasons Greetings’ to me in which he wanted me to play the role of Suchitra .. I liked the story immediately and said in principle I was on, but asked him to send me the script to decide finally .. he also said the movie was a tribute to Rituparno Ghosh. I had met Rituparno a couple of times in the last few years, and he had said that he would like to do a film with me one day, to my delight,  but unfortunately, it did not happen and then he was gone. So this film that was tribute to him became specially important ..and after reading the script and my role I said yes to Ram.

Expresso: How is the character of Seasons Greetings different from the others that you have portrayed?

Lilltte Dubey: Well it’s different in a couple of ways… 

For one, It’s the first movie in which I play a Bengali woman, who is around my age and also artistic…She’s a dancer, a woman living life on her own terms, gentle yet strong..  and quite fearless in a way… She has a lot of shades of me in her actually…

Expresso: Do you relate yourself to the character?

Lilltte Dubey:  Yes, I do relate to her at many levels. I also lost my husband 5 years back and I stay alone, but happily. My daughters live on their own … I too love music and the arts as well as dance which again is similar to Suchitra.

Expresso: Tell us about some shooting experience with the director Ram Kamal Mukherjee?

Lilltte Dubey: Well, considering ‘Cakewalk’ was Rams first film and he is a relatively new director, I found him quite clear about what he wanted while we were shooting, technically and even performance wise to some extent. This is something  I love in a director .. clarity of vision and Ram certainly had it. Yet he was also very open to discussions and inputs from the actors …

I had some views regarding my character as well as other characters in the movie. I gave him suggestions and he was quite open to them and happily incorporated them in the movie. It was a lovely collaborative exercise…Lillette Dubey

Expresso: You also directed a play apart from acting on movies. Do you want to direct movies or web series?

Lilltte Dubey: Definitely. I am thinking about directing a film and a web series soon. I have wanted to direct for some years now but something always came up and I couldn’t…I know I have to give up at least a year to make a feature film and  I am very passionate about my theatre company (which is also very demanding)  ..so I was always putting it off ..but now I’m determined to direct a film or a series very very soon!

Expresso: Will you work in any Bengali film?

Lilltte Dubey: Well, I have always had a lot of Bengali friends and I have worked with many Bengali directors .. Anjan Dutta, Aparna Sen, Ram, Onir, SudiptoChattopadhyay, and many more. I have always told them that I would love to do something in Bengali … Though I can’t speak Bengali, I believe it’s an easy language to learn and I  would love to work in Bengali films. Some of which are excellent …

Expresso: You have played so many characters, so which one is your favourite?

Lilltte Dubey: My best role is one I’m yet to play! I really feel I haven’t got very challenging roles to play in films yet. On the contrary, I feel I have played many more challenging, interesting & complex roles on stage.Suchitra aka Lillette Dubey

Expresso: What truly excites you about theatre?

Lilltte Dubey: I would say that its the fact that when you perform in front of a live audience it’s a magical  ‘shared experience’.  Whereas, in cinema, you don’t really connect with your audience. It’s theatre that allows you to play way more interesting and complex roles, and explore far more difficult and varied subjects …

Expresso: Which media is more challenging?

Lilltte Dubey: Personally, as an actor, I feel that theatre is much more challenging. There are no re-takes, no dubs, no breaks … It gives me the kind of fulfilment that is more complete in a sense …But occasionally you do get a chance to do some interesting work in film… Ram’s film is one of them …

Expresso: Tell us about the last thing that you have Googled?

Lilltte Dubey: I don’t use Google that much, but recently I was looking for some really good solo pieces for women to perform on stage. Apart from that, I was looking for programmes of the  Metropolitan Opera, National Theatre, the Bolshoi that are streaming online right now and some international papers like the New York Times …

Expresso: Twitter or Instagram, which works best for you?

Lilltte Dubey: I am a social dinosaur .. I’m not on any of them

Expresso: How are you spending your time during this Self-Quarantine?

Lilltte Dubey: This is a time of pause and reflection, a time to look within. I have got so many books st home that I never have the chance to read. music I rarely have time to listen to… It’s a time of inward calmness and stillness for me and also a chance to write. And a time to reconnect with old friends and the things that matter.

Expresso: What brings a smile on your face the most?

Lilltte Dubey: Oh, that’s easy! When I see my lovely twin grand daughters who are a year and a half!  At home (when they came before the lockdown ) and now on face time ..their ‘Hi Nani’! Makes my day!

Expresso: What is the first thing that you would like to do once the lockdown gets over?

Lilltte Dubey: Well we are not really out of the woods even after the lockdown .. This is going to be a long haul I’m quite sure! I hope people can overcome their psychosis of fear while remaining vigilant …It has been an illuminating time in so many ways and I  hope we can all carry our thoughts forward to change our way of doing things in the future …

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