Anirban Bhattacharya (Bijoy Poddar): For me, the one word that defines the film is ‘vengeance’, with Srijit-da’s tadka. Here it begins with something as innocuous as a make-up artist telling his story before you have this ‘sicko’ gate-crashing into the narrative, infusing it with the kind of mindless violence we see around us.
Ritwick Chakraborty (Adi Bose): I agree with Anirban about the violence – to the general perception it may seem like vengeance but what my character is engaging in is out-and-out violence, which engulfs everyone in the film. It touches upon aspects of what people liked about the early Srijit films – the quirkiness that is his USP.
Anirban: Yes, the edginess … I play a conventional cop … But the way Srijit writes the character is what makes it stand out. No one does the ‘swag’ better than him when it comes to defining a character, his dialogues – he introduced that to Bangla cinema. Here, the one contribution I made to the character is giving him the paan to chew – I think it goes very well with the swag.
Ritwick Chakraborty: The swag Anirban mentions is very much part of Adi too. My character calls himself a ‘serial lawyer’, which will give you an idea that he is not all there (points to his head). He ingeniously uses the law in selecting his victims – it is the law that dictates his actions. There’s no ready-made model for a character like this, which gave me a lot of freedom to improvise. For some reason, directors approach me for such ‘abnormal’ characters (laughs) – Srijit too did that with Nirbaak. But Srijit never repeats himself … even as a thriller, this is different from Baishey Shrabon and Chotushkone…
Srijit Mukherji: Yes, after Baishey I had many offers to make ‘Teishey’, ‘Chchobishe’ … right to the end of the month. Similarly, after Chotushkone, there was a clamour for pentagon, hexagon … but you know how we Bengalis love to go to a different place every year for the pujas, I decided to go to a thriller this time…
Sohini Sarkar (Jaya): Whatever the others say about this film, for me Vinci Da is a love story.
Sohini: It is … here is this simple girl who does not amount to anything in her life … all of us are good at something, someone is a good journalist, others can sing well, Jaya literally can do nothing well … she defines ‘ordinary’ … and to top it all she stammers … For Jaya, life begins and ends with love – that’s the only thing she is probably good at.
Riddhi Sen: Well, since my role has been described as the film’s ‘surprise package’, obviously I cannot give away why I am in it and in what capacity – except to say, irrespective of the length of the role, I feel that every actor should get to do at least one such scene in his lifetime.
Srijit: In cricketing terms, he is the pinch-hitter…
Sohini: When I saw the trailer, I was like, ‘Wow! Where did that come from?’ – I had no idea what you were doing in the film…
Riddhi (laughs): It’s an iconic scene … and only Srijit-da knows why he thought of me for this.
Srijit: I needed a powerful actor of a certain age who could leave an everlasting impact in a short screen space – the same logic I followed when I cast Kaushik Ganguly in Chotushkone…
Anupam Roy (lyricist and composer): I must be the only one who had no idea of the story or what my songs are doing in it. Like most of my songs for Srijit-da’s films, these too were composed independently. ‘Gas Balloon’ is a song about a guy in love going to drop his girlfriend off at her home and finding someone else in the picture. ‘Shanto Hou’, which I composed in 2018, talks about aspects of mental health against the backdrop of the general anger and frustration we see all around us. What’s special about it is that I played the guitar riff in this song myself. For ‘Tomar Moner Bhetor’, we got the Sa Ra Ga Ma reality show sensation Nobel, from Bangladesh, to sing it. Only Srijit can say how he visualizes my songs…
Srijit: I am not sure even I understand it. It is a kind of epiphany which happens when you spend a lot of time with someone, soaking in his work. Certain melodies, lyrics stay on with you, and when you are writing your story they just find their way in.
That’s how I guess Rudra’s story – essentially a human story – ended up as Vinci Da. Also my penchant for the macabre made me turn to a couple of young boys in 1930s’ US, Leopold and Loeb, who killed a teenager only because they wanted to commit the ‘perfect murder’, believing in Nietzsche’s concept of Übermenschen, individuals who believe that their superior intellect allows them to go beyond societal laws and ethics. Every serial killer has his modus operandi and pattern and that’s where I come in.
The protagonist here is a fanboy of Leonardo da Vinci – who combined art and science, very much applicable to make-up and prosthetics. Da Vinci was as much a man who created high art as well as weapons for warfare … that went well with the film’s ambivalent morality and the fact that in Kolkata we call everyone ‘da’ – so there’s an element of wordplay there.
Rudranil: This is the first time Srijit has worked with a co-writer – and that makes me happy; there are very few who write for the screen as well as he does. I was like a father handing over his child to the school teacher (pointing to Srijit) and watching it grow, mature.
Srijit: Technically, this is the third time I have had a co-writer – after Sunil Ganguly and William Shakespeare. So, Rudra is in august company (smiles). And if you are the father, who is the mother?
Rudranil: Him … (pointing towards Somnath Kundu)
Srijit: We in Bengali cinema suffer from a complex given our lack of infrastructure, resources, but we have a vast treasure of human capital. People talk about Baahubali, and rightly so, but is Nagarkirtan any less of an achievement? We can make great cinematic content despite our limitations. We can write our way to greatness, act our way to greatness with what we have – and Vinci Da is a tribute to that spirit as embodied by Somnath, who triggered this idea with the work he has done.