It will be Srijit Mukherji vs Kaushik Ganguly this Puja, says Tolly star Prosenjit Chatterjee

author_img Sharmistha Ghosal Published :  02nd October 2018 12:00 AM   |   Published :   |  02nd October 2018 12:00 AM

Actor Prosenjit Chatterjee on the sets of Kishore Kumar Junior

If there is anyone who can handle stress with elan and remain at the top of the game for 35 years, it has got to be Bengali actor Prosenjit Chatterjee, who is a part of many award winning Bengali movies. The artiste is having a great run this year, too, -- his movie, Drishtikone that released in April became one of the biggest hits of this year and now, he is all set to thrill the audience with national award winning filmmaker Kaushik Ganguly’s Puja release, Kishore Kumar Junior, which the Bengali film industry is touting as one of the best movies of Prosenjit Chatterjee. 
It’s Chatterjee’s second film in a row with Ganguly. It is about the singers, popularly called ‘konthi’, who make careers out of singing songs of their idols. Chatterjee’s character is loosely inspired by one such konthi singer, Goutam Ghosh, who has been singing Kishore Kumar’s songs for decades, now. In the middle of a busy, cloudy afternoon, diet-freak Chatterjee, in a blue Armani tee and a faded pair of jeans, sat for a brief chat in between photo shoots, over a plate of biryani (yes, you read it right) for lunch. Excerpts.  
Actor Prosenjit Chatterjee

Every year one mega Puja release belongs to you. Do you get tensed or have you become habituated?

There were times when nine films starring Prosenjit Chatterjee used to release during the festive season. And more or less, all of them were blockbusters. So, if I have survived those days, this pressure is nothing. Now, only one or two films of mine release during the Pujas for the past six-seven years. There is nothing to get tensed about that.

Tell us what got you excited about Kishore Kumar Junior?

Nowadays, I don’t like doing characters that are similar to what I have done before. Just like my characters Lalan and Antony Firingi in Moner Manush and Jatishwar, this character, too, is going to stay in the audience’s mind.

This is a very different character, it’s about the Konthis. No one has thought before Kaushik that a film on their lives can be made and this film has a resonance across the country. But despite the protagonist being a singer, the film represents the middle class values, their struggles, pain, love, hurt and emotions. I feel all the middle class Bengali families would be able to relate with the film, they will see their stories in it.

Chatterjee with the cast of Kishore Kumar Junior

It doesn’t quite look like a typical Kaushik Ganguly film, seems to be more commercial.

How does one decide what’s an art film and what’s a commercial one? Is Goopi Gayen Bagha Bayen an art film or a commercial one? I don’t think if there is any other bigger commercial film than Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali. The films by Tapan Sinha, Tarun Majumdar, Ajay Kar, were all good films despite being commercially viable. I think unless directors like Kaushik, Srijit and others doesn’t come up with such good films, the industry will not be able to survive in the Box Office. A film is good and works only if everybody can watch it and relate to it from their perspectives.

Kishore Kumar Junior (KKJ) is definitely not like Kaushik’s Nagarkirtan, but it has a story of its own, he has talked about an international subject in the film. He talks about music’s universal appeal and also deals with father-son relationship.

How did you prepare yourself for the role?

This role is not a straight jacket one. There are a lot of layers and complexities in it. The biggest challenge for me was to play a singer, who never gets on stage before dawn, who is not in the limelight. Also, my emotions had to be restrained, since I am a singer, yet I had to be expressive enough, so that when I sing a song, I remind the audience of Rajesh Khanna or an Amitabh Bachchan. To bring that conviction, I had downloaded all the Kumar Sanu stage shows and watched them minutely, since Sanu is the most successful voice resembling Kishore Kumar. I have tried to punch a bit of Kishore Kumar and Kumar Sanu to bring my character to life.

National award-winning director Kaushik Ganguly, whose upcoming film Kishore Kumar Junior will release on October 12

How well has Kaushik Ganguly used you as an actor after Drishtikone?

Kaushik himself is a stupendous actor and he knows how to give me the right space. Our understanding is clear and he can well gauge my hunger. We WhatsApp each other in the middle of the night and discuss how to improve a shot further. We debate and discuss, my work doesn’t end after a shot, it’s a continuous process until the film is done.For this particular character, Kaushik helped me to understand the middle class Bengali psyche and get into the skin of the role.

Chatterjee with Aparajita Addya, who plays his wife in Kishore Kumar Junior

This is also your second film with Aparajit Addya after Praktan, where she plays your wife.

Aparajita’s character represents all the middle class wives, who try to hold on to everything despite all the hurdles. If she was adored in Praktan, she will get applause with every dialogue in KKJ. Kaushik has written a brilliant script for her and she has done full justice to it. She and Lama will be the ones to get accolades once the film releases.

Six Bengali films are releasing this Puja. What will the audience expect from KKJ?

Though six films will release, no one has a doubt that the real fight will be between Srijit Mukerji’s Ek Je Chhilo Raja and Kaushik Ganguly’s KKJ. Both the movies appeal to the Bengali’s nostalgia. One is about mystery around Bhawal Raja, while the other is about immortal singer Kishore Kumar. It will be Srijit v/s Kaushik this year. And this is the first Puja in many years that I am not in a Srijit Mukherji film. So, it will be really interesting.

What next?

I will be working with Srijit again in his next, Gumnami Baba, a huge controversial character that again appeals to the Bengali sentiment. It will be a kind of biopic, there’s so much sensation around it. I am excited to play double role, that of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and Gumnami Baba. Then I will alos be seen in Kaushik Ganguly’s Jestho Putro, which will be my third film with him