South African film, theatre and television actor, David James, is a part of the upcoming Bengali adventure flick, Amazon Obhijaan which is sequel to the film Chander Pahar and which features Bengal’s superstar Dev in the central role of adventurer Shankar. Known for playing the villainous Koobus Venter in the Oscar nominated science fiction movie titled District 9, David has portrayed the integral role of Marco Florian, who is an explorer by passion, in the upcoming Kamaleshwar Mukherjee directorial.
In an email interview with TellyGossip, the actor spoke about his character in Amazon Obhijaan, experience of working with Kamaleshwar Mukherjee, the scariest sequence he shot for the film and the Bollywood actress he admires. Read on-
You portrayed the role of Albuquerque in Chander Pahar and we hear Amazon Obhijaan has a completely new story. So, what’s your character in it?
Marco Florain is an Italian born (1879) Musical / Symphony director in Brazil in 1914- 1925. He has a Russian born daughter (Svetlana) …the mother was a Russian opera singer that Marco had an affair with. His daughter shares his adventurous spirit and brings him a wonderful man from India that changes Marco’s life on their journey.
When you were told about Amazon Obhijaan, what was your instant reaction?
When Abhishek (associate producer) phoned me from India, I had just said no to a Russian production then. It was like the universe stepped in. I asked for the script and director. Before I got the script 3-1/2 weeks later I found that Kamald Da was directing it and then I had to do it and so I said yes.
How was it working with Kamaleshwar Mukherjee and Dev again?
Kamald Da I admired the first time we worked together. And he took both me and my character on a journey of discovery. I would love to make a European film with him. At the same time working with Dev who has worked with Kamal Da often has been great. I had to play catchup to the character because they understand one another so well.
What were your experiences while working with an Indian film crew this time? How did the team treat you?
The team worked extremely hard. From production to costume and props to the lighting crew, and the DOP. I have no idea where and when Ritesh, the first AD, slept. SVF went out of their way to provide “western” accommodation for me and Svetlana. And when the local food became too much, they arranged for western food. On set it took me a while to adjust/understand as to the different economy in culture.
Tell us, what was the scariest sequence you shot for Amazon Obhijaan?
While there are quite a few but I remember one incident which actually was very scary for me. It was sitting at the bottom of a 7–1/2 meter high waterfall pretending to be happy as my character while the current was pulling me away from Dev and Svetlana. If Dev did not grab my arm I’d be in the bottom of the black river in the Amazon. That was a scene made for me and I was almost unable to play my character.
Tell us, while working with a Bengali team for the Bengali films, how many Bengali words you got to learn?
Bengalis are very generous. The best thing about them is that they are very giving, smiling and supporting. Throughout the film, Chandrima (costume Designer) helped me with about 44 sentences, and Abhi from the production team helped me with pronunciation and grammar. By the time I came back to Kolkata I could say the basics like “hallo”, “please help”, ” thank you”, ” where is..?” etc …
Do you watch Bengali films? If yes, what are your take on Bengali films?
I had a very short time before I left for India. In that short span of time, to prepare myself, I worked though 27 Bengali drama and romantic comedy. I loved the fairytale aspect of comedy.
Lastly, which of the bong bombshells you find the most attractive?
I was asked the same question two days ago and I had to admit that I’ve no idea of the names of Indian, Bengal stars (apart from Dev). However, a woman I have always admired (sorry it’s Bollywood) it is Aishwarya Rai, a graceful beautiful woman who knows how to make love to the camera.
Best wishes, David!
Produced by SVF, Amazon Obhijaan is slated to release on 22 December.