Siam, you have already developed a huge fan-base. How do you deal with stardom at such an early age?
Siam: It feels great, but the responsibilities are greater now! It's my duty to spread positivity about Bengali movies. It's a challenge for sure, but I am enjoying it!
That is wonderful. So are you getting a lot of offers lately?
Siam: I am, but I don't want to lose myself in the flow. I am being choosy about the scripts I am being offered. I can't say yes to every film and that's only natural. The quality of work never improves this way.
Puja: I think being particular about scripts is really important for us youngsters, since the practice of making commercial films with shoddily written scripts is seemingly on the rise. For sustainable career development, we have to be careful about picking the right films and characters.
How satisfied are you with your performances, Siam?
Siam: I believe the journey to becoming a good artist has to be made through a path of trials and errors, because nobody is born perfect. All I can do is, give my best shot, learn from my mistakes and rectify them in the next film. But for that, I have to be given enough chances. If I was rejected after my very first drama, I wouldn't have come thus far today.
So Puja, your debut film Noorjahan was a joint venture project. Tell us more about it.
Puja: Actually, Poramon 2 was supposed to be my debut film. But for some reasons, the process got delayed. Then Abdul Aziz Bhai, from Jaaz Multimedia advised me to work in Noorjahan. Noorjahan was a joint venture of Jaaz Multimedia and Raj Chakroborty Production based in Kolkata.
Tell us about your experience of working with a joint venture team?
Puja: It has been a wonderful experience. Joint ventures give us a good exposure to professional film making processes that include workshops, role playing, and character analysis. I went through a rigorous grooming session for three days before we actually started shooting for Noorjahan. The team was experienced and particular in working with latest video technologies. Other than minor dialectic differences nothing else was really different for me.
A strong on-screen chemistry plays a vital role behind the success of a movie. How do you think an artist should prepare themselves for each new film?
Siam: On-screen chemistry is indeed a determining factor for a movie to decide its luck. I have always admired the classic pair of Salman Shah and Shabnoor from my childhood – they looked amazing together. Another startling duo was Salman Shah and Moushumi. Their chemistry in the films was magical. These pairs could touch our heart because they understood each other's character both on and off the screen. I felt similar connections with Puja. Being comfortable with your co-artist is very important to grow that chemistry. Puja is very enthusiastic about her work. I think she is a born artist!
Puja: Thank You! I think, if we are honest with our efforts, who knows, maybe 20 years from now, people will remember the Puja-Siam pair!
Sometimes romantic on-screen chemistry overflows and drenches the off-screen lives as well! How do you see this as an actor?
Siam: (Laughter) Well, it wasn't possible in our case! Puja's mother was always on the set and was alert about her daughter's love life! I would never even get a chance to flirt with Puja, even if I wanted to! But on a serious note, we had to love and respect each other as co-artists, because that's how we would gel with each other on-screen. If Siam never loved Puja, Sujon and Pori's love story would seem fake to the audience!
What is your take on the current situation of our film industry?
Puja: I think our industry is doing okay. It has evolved through much, and will continue to develop. We need better films and cinema halls now. Jaaz Multimedia has been contributing a lot to this sector. We have been getting massive hits like Agni, Bhalobashar Rong, Agni 2, Aashiqui. Films like Shwapnojaal, Dhaka Attack, Aynabaji have once again pulled a huge number of audiences towards cinema halls. What lacks now is better infrastructural support for the movies that are being produced.
Siam: My opinion is a little different, but I will be honest with my words. I think our film industry will not develop until the taste and mentality of our audiences develop. The expression 'Bangla cinema' often means poorly made films. We can no longer claim that we are not financially stable enough to support big budget films. We all have seen the endless queue of people in Bashundhara City, waiting to get a ticket for Avengers: Infinity War. We really need to look for content driven films, strongly backed by latest technological support. Over the past few years, I have created myself a fairly strong ground in TV drama and serials, but I took a risk just so I can contribute to something bigger. A hundred years down the line, I want people to remember my name and acknowledge my contributions to the growth of the Bangladeshi film industry.
It's been wonderful talking to you both. Do you have any message for our readers?
Siam: We are young learners. We hope our beloved audience will excuse our shortcomings and help us with their feedback.
Puja: Movie making requires a lot of effort, dedication and hard work from the whole unit. But it all goes in vein if the audience show pre-meditated reluctance to come and watch the movies. We would like to request our audience to come back to the cinema halls, watch our movies and give us the support we need.
Interviewed by Rafi Hossain