Tolly actor Saswata Chatterjee will be seen in Dil Bechara with Sushant Singh Rajput
Bob Marley, Bob Beamon, Bob Woolmer might find little resonance in Kolkata, for relative consideration. But Bob Biswas has top of the mind recall, conjuring up the spine chilling killer of Bollywood crime thriller Kahaani, as he would greet his target with an amiable namaskar before whipping out a gun fitted with a silencer.
Prolific actor Saswata Chatterjee, who has attained near-immortality by portraying a cold blooded killer, started his career playing detective Pradosh Mitter aka Feluda’s assistant and nephew Topshe in 1996. He has come a long way since, carving a niche of his own and in a very different space than what was occupied by his father – the late popular actor and thespian Shubhendu Chatterjee.
“I consciously stayed away from the glamour and glitz and concentrated on acting in impactful and different roles to avoid comparisons with my father, who was a popular star. In fact, both my father and I are influenced by Uttam Kumar,” says the nonchalant actor over a cuppa at a popular diner on Rajani Sen Road in South Kolkata which incidentally happens to be the address of Bengal’s most popular sleuth ever, Feluda.
The artiste who has acted in several well-appreciated movies such as Kaushik Ganguly’s C/O Sir, Kamaleswar Mukherjee’s Meghe Dhaka Tara, Aparna Sen’s Goynar Baksho and Churni Ganguly’s National Award winning movie Nirbashito among others, will be seen in a mixed bag of movies this year including newcomer Nabarun Sen’s Dwikhondito, Churni Ganguly’s Tarikh, Aniket Chatterjee’s Hobu Chandra Raja Gobu Chandra Mantri, and Saptaswo Basu’s Network.
In fact, Churni Ganguly’s Tarikh, which has done the rounds of festivals including the Kolkata International Film Festival in November last year, has been lauded by audiences, with Saswata’s performance getting special attention. In Tarikh Saswata plays a popular professor, who lives in London with his wife and daughter. This is for the second time that he has worked with Churni. We ask how is she as a filmmaker? “She is a sensitive, dedicated and demanding director with an eye for detail, who will not rest before getting what she wants from her actors,” says Chatterjee, adding that co-actor Raima Sen has given her best performance so far in the movie Tarikh.
Since he has worked with both the filmmaker couples, it was natural for us to ask him, whom he enjoyed working with more – Churni or Kaushik Ganguly. “It’s actually very difficult to say that since both are excellent. But Kaushik often enacts what he wants an actor to emote, while Churni would only instruct you. But if you ask, who is more fun at work, it’s definitely Kaushik, as we talk more about food than work during breaks. Churni is not a foodie,” he says, breaking into a laugh.
We talk about another upcoming movie of his, Network, by debutante director Saptaswa Basu. The film stars Saswata in the role of a terminally ill filmmaker, who wants to make a good movie before he dies, but finds that his script has been stolen and made into a film by another filmmaker duo. “The movie is about how a crestfallen director takes revenge through a reality show. The plot is so gripping that I said yes immediately after hearing it,” says the polite actor, adding “I am always eager to work with new directors but I refuse a lot of them, too, as some of them unabashedly come with scripts lifted from Hollywood movies”.
Choosy about his roles, the spontaneous actor will also be seen playing a hallucinating author in Dwikhondito, while he's set to start shooting for a biopic for the web for Zee5. He believes that the filmmakers of the late 1980s and 90s have positively harmed the Bengali film industry, whereas things are now going through a very creative phase. “Content had always played an important part and with stars losing their sheen due to over exposure, actors are gaining in strength,” says Saswata, who regrets not getting the kind of scope he deserved a decade back due to a dearth of meaningful roles. “But I have been perhaps luckier than many of my contemporaries to get lead roles despite lack of opportunities,” he is quick to point out.
Last seen in Jagga Jassos, he will be seen playing actor Sanjana Sanghi’s father in Mukesh Chhabra’s Dil Bechara starring Sushant Singh Rajput, based on John Green’s 2012 novel, The Fault in Our Stars. “In Bollywood you can’t afford to be lackadaisical as there are hundreds waiting to replace you,” he says. What’s that one thing he has learnt as an actor over the years? “I have learnt not to break down during crises,” signs off the actor.
Ranbir Kapoor is extremely down-to-earth. He is very well-behaved but will not let you take him for granted. He is very naughty, too, and is a prankster. Once when I called my wife, Mahua, who is a big Ranbir fan he kept playing a guess-who-I-am game with her till the last minute. A thorough professional, he gets involved in the film’s making and cooperates with the director till the end.
There has never been a dull moment with the ever-smiling Vidya Balan. Absolutely a pleasure to work with, she is simple and smiles at everyone.
Sushant Singh Rajput has an incredible energy about him. He is very friendly and practises cricket every day, a habit he picked up while shooting for Dhoni, I guess.