Birsa Dasgupta’s bone-chilling psychological thriller, Mafia is now streaming on Zee5. The series has been produced by the renowned Bengali actor, Parambrata Chatterjee and is a ZEE5 Original. Mafia is a panoramic simulation of a game that is juxtaposed with real life, in this series, which revolves around finding the real Mafia.
The story involves six friends who face a car breakdown on their way to a backpacker’s trip. They find their way to a nearby homestead and come up with the idea of playing Mafia. As the story progresses, sinister events start unfolding, followed by mysterious deaths and disappearances. Anindita Bose plays the character of Neha, one of the six friends and makes commendable performances in the show. In a recent tele-talk with Expresso magazine, she talks about the series, her experience on the sets of Mafia and the character of Neha versus her own personality.
Expresso: Finally, Mafia has been released, what are your expectations and how are you feeling?
Anindita Bose: I am extremely excited, it’s the first time that I have been involved in a psychological thriller and played a character that I have never essayed before. I am extremely eager to see everyone’s response and reaction to Mafia. Like every other show, it has also been made with a lot of love and dedication. And just how everybody loves his/her own show in a special way, I too am biased towards this one of mine. Mafia has a very intriguing screenplay, as the audience hasn’t been privy to this kind of a series made in India before.
Expresso: There is a touch of darkness in the title ‘Mafia’. Is there any particular mystery hidden behind the selection of this title?
Anindita Bose: Mafia is simply the name of a game that we used to play in school and college when we were students. Very similar to chit games like ‘chor-police’ and ‘killer’, Mafia is also one of those student games that teenagers play for passing time. Suppose there are 6 people playing the game, there is a moderator who will ask them to close their eyes. Amongst these six people there will be a mafia, police and the remaining are normal people. The game is to find out the real gang lord or the ‘Mafia’. The story of our web show is based on the concept of this game, and I feel it’s a very different and a very new approach to a thriller story. This is based on a nostalgic game that I have throughout my student life, hence it is special for me.
Expresso: Your character’s name is Neha. How much can you as Anindita relate to Neha?
Anindita Bose: Well I can relate to this character to a great extent but not completely. Neha is a little nosy and likes to intrude into people’s problems. She is an upfront girl who is never hesitant to engage in a confrontation, irrespective of who is around her. However, in my real life, I am not such a meddlesome person. As Anindita, I would be a little mature and not outright yell at anybody. Apart from this, there is not much difference between Neha and Anindita.
Expresso: Mafia has been shot all over North Bengal. How has your experience of the shoot been?
Anindita Bose: It has been an excellent experience all through. Almost everybody on the set was of the same age group because of which it was easier to be in sync with one another. Be it the cast or the crew, director, everybody’s wavelengths matched with one another, which rarely happens in a shoot. The entire experience of the shoot is absolutely unforgettable for me! We were shooting in the Gorumara forest for a month and would wake up to so much greenery every morning. It was beautiful! We would see elephants roaming around in the nearby areas, cobras slithering away just a few feet away from us, and sometimes we were scared about the wandering leopards in the nearby regions. It was indeed a wild and memorable journey.
Expresso: If you were asked to choose a scene from Mafia that is very close to you, which one would you talk about?
Anindita Bose: There is this particular scene in Mafia where my character, Neha, is trying to have a conversation with Ritwik, played by Saurabh Saraswat, which I can recall as one of my favourite scenes. Saurabh is a fantastic actor, and for this scene, we decided not to rehearse from beforehand, but rather give it a natural attempt on the set. While acting out this scene, both of us felt a major emotional connection with our characters, and we were both in tears by the end of our performances. When the director, Birsa Da (Birsa Dasgupta) said cut, we turned around to see that everyone was dumbfounded after that scene. There was pin-drop silence, and indeed it was a very overwhelming scene for both of us.
Expresso: How was your experience of working with Birsa Dasgupta?
Anindita Bose: I have worked with him some years back in the film ‘Jaani Dekha Hobe’ and this was kind of a much-awaited reunion for us. Birsa Da has been a friend, a mentor and a guide to me for many years now, and I share an absolutely different level of comfort with him. I don’t have a problem in understanding how he visualizes and what he wants from a scene. Similarly, if I make any suggestion, he listens to it whole-heartedly. We share a great bond of trust and understanding. It is always a desirable experience to work with a director who has a clear understanding of his scenes and his actors. Birsa Da is an emotional person himself and knows very well how to execute an emotional scene. Working with him this time felt like working with a long lost friend of mine.
Expresso: You have worked in television, films, and web series. Which medium are you most comfortable in?
Anindita Bose: Very honestly, I cannot differentiate work on the basis of the medium and in every platform my experience was unique and memorable. I had started with television and I owe everything to it. My first film was with Bumba Da (Prosenjit Chatterjee) after which I have played many interesting characters in various films, Bhooter Bhobishshyot being one of them. And for the last four years, I am working in web shows. My experience in every show of every medium has been so enriching that they all hold the same position for me.
When I used to act in TV shows, I felt I was up close to the audience, on their television screens. Later when I moved to the big screen I played many beautiful and diverse characters, which was a fascinating journey. Now that I am doing web shows, I can experiment even more with the characters that I am being offered. I feel that people are also trusting me better these days with challenging characters. You see, every medium is distinct in its own way, and I am thoroughly enjoying all of them. Each of them has been a huge learning process for me.
Expresso: What is your dream role that you haven’t played yet?
Anindita Bose: I would really like to play something on the lines of Alia Bhatt’s character in Udta Punjab.
Expresso: You wanted to be a production designer, but now you are an actress. How has this journey been?
Anindita Bose: It’s been quite an intense and elevating journey for me. I have always been an introvert, too shy to talk to people. All my childhood friends and my family can surely vouch for this. That is why I always wanted to be behind the camera and never in front of it. But, I believe the universe had separate plans for me that landed me in front of the camera, and from there my journey began. Initially, I didn’t know what to do with myself because I was so terribly shy. But, in these ten years, my shyness has reduced a lot, and I have a better understanding of myself. I have gained a lot of confidence, and I can conduct myself much better in front of people than what I used to ten years back. This journey has almost been a life-changing process for me.
Expresso: What is the biggest risk that you have taken in your life?
Anindita Bose: Well I am not a very daring person so to say, and have been quite timid all my life. I have always avoided the bigger risks somehow. However, there was this one time when I got blonde and red streaks done on my hair, and that was quite a disaster. I had spent a lot of money in college to get that done, all of which was a huge waste. I had immediately run to the store to get black hair colour and I changed it instantly. By far, this has been possibly the biggest risk that I have taken.
Expresso: What does Mafia have that will attract the audience?
Anindita Bose: Everything! Once we start watching a show, we develop a lot of expectations. For example, we lookout for some good-looking people, some beautiful locations, a good story, amazing visuals, and so on. ‘Mafia’ is a complete entertainment package with all of these. It is a mixed bag of emotions that will give you a whole lot of thrill once you start watching. I am sure that the characters would be very relatable to the audience. The situations where these characters are placed from time to time in the show have happened to a lot of people at least once in their lives.