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Innocence Regained

With Stree raking in fabulous numbers at the box office, Bhavi Gathani spoke to actor Abhishek Banerjee, who played Jana,  about his experience of being a part of this horror-comedy. 

On The Brief

When Amar bhai (Amar Kaushik) spoke to me about Janna, he sent me a video of Raj Kapoor from the film Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai, which went viral. In the scene, he says to Padmini, ‘Ji, kya aap mere bachhe ki maa banengi?’ That is the proposal scene. It spread like wild fire among teenagers. It became a rage. The moment I saw that clip, I understood Janna inside out. Also, Raj sahab did that scene in such a way that the sheer innocence of that man came across in that scene. Similarly, I wanted to look innocent. After that, I went back home to my parents because I wanted to feel the warmth that you usually miss in the cities.

On The Role

The most important thing that attracted me towards this character was how clean a human being is; how much positivity that character has. He only feels things the right way and doesn’t know the wrong side of things. He does not read between the lines. He does not want to look beyond what he sees. That is the beauty of Janna.

On The Challenges

The last character I did was Vilasrao Dhavle in the film Ajji, which was a very dark character. I played a child rapist. I got into the zone of a person who sees the world as a scumbag would and uses his manhood to control everyone. A character like Jana flushes out the negativity inside you. And by the time I was offered Jana, I was already feeling very positive.

The most challenging part was to get back the innocence you lose living life in Bombay and the pressure it puts on you. I had to go back to that. I used to go and meet people as Jana without them realising it. I used to actually see only the positive in them, even if somebody was harsh or rude or insulting. That is how I wanted my relationships to be like with the other characters in the film, especially with Bicky and Bittu. This is how I prepared for my role.

On The Director

I know Amar bhai since a long time when I was a casting assistant for No One Killed Jessica. When I met him at that time, I immediately knew that he is a great guy. If you ask me he basically is a real life Jana. When you meet him, he always has a smile on his face and he always talks nice things. He saw me in Ajji, and liked it. When he said that he is making a film, I directly asked if there is any role for me in it. He asked me to audition and thankfully Dinesh Vijan and Raj-DK, they all liked me and selected me. It was a joy ride.

On The Co-Actors

The first time we met during the reading session at Maddock office, we immediately connected. Raj (Rajkummar Rao) and I knew each other since long time because we had a common friend. I knew Apar (Aparshakti Khurana) as an actor, I cast him in an ad. So I knew both of them. Also, all three of us are from Delhi. Basically, Delhi se agar log mil jaate hain, especially boys, then it’s almost the same vibe yaar. We used to cook together, we used to eat together, we used to play cricket, used to fight with each other while playing games. It was like a college trip.

On The Response

I am just reacting to what is happening right now. The industry, the critics, they all have been very kind towards my work. I understood the word 'overwhelming' after this scenario. My school friends who are not in touch and everybody else, is messaging me that they are proud of me. I am happy that I made them proud. My dad kept sending me articles about Stree and my work. My wife Tina has supported me throughout everything and in a way groomed me also. I have never been better. I have been telling my parents that this is the best moment of my life.

Future Projects

I had finished few projects before signing Stree. I finished Mirzapur, an Amazon series by Excel Entertainment, which is going to come in November during Diwali. I am doing the second season of the web show Humorously Yours, I am also doing a film called Bhonsle by Devashish Makhija.  


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