Barrister Babu actor Arina Dey: Had no second thoughts about playing a widow

Sana Farzeen
barrister babu

Barrister Babu actor Arina Dey smiles for the camera.

After being part of many Bengali projects, Arina Dey shifted base to Mumbai and bagged the lead role in Muskaan. After playing the character for close to a year, the actor faced the brunt of a leap, with her character marking an exit from the daily. The Bengali actor is now set to play a single mother again in Barrister Babu, the new serial on Colors.

Barrister Babu is set in Kolkata's pre-independence era, when women were not supposed to have a voice. The show will present an inspiring journey of eight-year-old Bondita (Aurra Bhatnagar Badoni), who, with the help of her companion Anirudh (Pravisht Mishra), finds her purpose, breaks the glass ceiling and becomes a lawyer. From a young age, Bondita questions the deep-rooted prejudices and biases that have crippled the society and finds the right partner in her husband. Dey will be seen playing the role of her widowed mother.

In an exclusive conversation with indianexpress.com, Arina Dey opens up about playing an unglamorous character, the difference between regional and Hindi industry and more.

Excerpts from the conversation.

Most Bengali characters on television are all about glamour, gorgeous sarees and jewellery, and here you are playing a widow. Was there ever a second thought about taking up this role?

Honestly, look wise, I never had any apprehension. I feel she is as pretty and strong as any other female characters on television. The challenge for me was to pull off this powerful role. I had to really prepare to strike a balance between being the calm woman and ferocious mother. Yes, during the look test, I was thinking if being bald would be a good idea, so I video-called my dad, and he said I was looking really good. That was it, I couldn't have asked for more.

Tell us something about the character.

Sumati is a young widow, whose husband has passed away quite recently. She is left to survive with an eight-year-old daughter. The show is set in an era where women were not allowed to speak up, especially if they were widowed. Her existence has no value without her husband. She is alive but without any happiness or soul. However, when it comes to her daughter, Sumati is very protective, and can turn into Goddess Durga if needed.

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You've played a single mother in both your shows, don't you think you are getting stereotyped?

They both have been mothers but have completely different shades. At the end of the day, it all boils down to how you project the character that's given to you. The audience must enjoy your work and give you love.

Did being a Bengali help you get into the skin of the role?

Yes, the accent and personality were much easier.

What do you have to say about social causes becoming a means of entertainment on the small screen?

I think it's a great way to pass on a positive message. Television is viewed by every stratum of society, and such content helps in educating people. Also, it's part of our society, so people relate more to it, and get the courage to bring about a change.

What are the kind of changes do you see when it comes to the industry here and back home?

There's a huge difference. Just because I am from Kolkata, doesn't mean I will speak all good about it. The kind of professionalism I find here is missing, or at least, I haven't experienced. One just heads home after work unlike there, where people prefer hanging around. I really enjoy working in Mumbai. I had never imagined that I could, and so it actually feels like a dream. Nonetheless, I would love to do a good project back home, if I am ever offered one.

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Your character in the last show was bumped off after a leap. As an actor does that get despairing given that you've given your blood and sweat to it from the start?

When I take up any work, I keep it in mind that it will get over one day. The amount of time you get on the screen, you should manage to make your mark. There's no point pondering over what's gone. The show has already gone off air, so my association had to end one day. I also feel, whatever happens, it's always for the good.

But doesn't it get difficult to survive without work, especially when you are away from home?

I actually slipped into depression wondering what would happen to me. But then I thought that why am I crying over things that's not in my control. I used the break to work on myself. I joined the gym, polished myself and started giving more auditions. That really helped me stay motivated.

Any plans of trying your luck in films?

I am very happy with my stint on television. Honestly, I also feel that maybe I am still not ready for the big screen.

Starting February 11, Barrister Babu will air Monday-Friday at 8:30 pm on Colors.