Actors Ujaan Ganguly and Rwitobroto Mukherjee speak about carving a niche of their own
They might belong to families connected to the film industry, but they haven’t rested on their parental laurels alone. We are talking about the young and aspiring Ujaan Ganguly and Rwitobroto Mukherjee, the sons of filmmaker-actors Kaushik and Churni Ganguly, and of actor Shantilal Mukherjee.
Ujaan, who debuted last year in Pavel’s superhit movie, Rosogolla, won hearts with his innocent portrayal of Bengal’s first sweet entrepreneur, Nabin Chandra Das. Rwitobroto too has for long been working as a child artiste in cinema and theatre, and he is still recalled for his cute presence as Bishnu in the Hindi movie, Kahaani. His first movie as the lead in Generation Ami, which released last year, where he plays a school-going Bengali boy, has also been widely appreciated. This year, he acted in Mainak Bhaumik’s Goyenda Junior and Aparna Sen’s Ghawre Bairey Aaj.
Currently, he just wrapped up shooting for Srijit Mukherji’s upcoming thriller, Dwitiyo Purush and Ujaan too has completed work for his next film, Lokhhi Chele. The two young men also happen to be juggling studies and their fledgeling acting careers with equal elan, while being close buddies in real life. We had to get them together for a shoot, after which we got to sit them down for a candid chat on movies, and their other plans...
How much of your journey as actors has been a struggle, and a cakewalk?
Ujaan Ganguly: There was no struggle in getting work or adequate opportunities, but it is not a cakewalk either. One has to prove his worth after getting a platform to perform. I think that struggle is a part of existence.
Rwitobroto Mukherjee: In fact, it begins after getting the work, when you struggle with 10 million people on social media, who have no clue of what you are doing and yet, do not refrain themselves from commenting.
Are there enough meaty roles being made for actors of your age?
UG: I think, once Rwitobroto starts growing a proper beard, he will be able to explore a larger range (laughs).
RM: I end up with roles of 15, 16, 17 or 18-year-olds. When I did Generation Ami, I was 20 years, but I played a 16-year-old. If you think of it from a certain angle, it’s actually good to play a character that is younger than you. I think, we as a generation of actors, are lucky to have emerged at a time, when there is a global change — be it in content or experimenting with style — where writers are creating suitable roles.
UG: Yes, I think we are fortunate to be here at a time when cinema is going through a sea of change. The sea, in this case, is content. Just a generation ago, there was a group of talented young actors comprising Indrashish and Gourab Chakraborty among others, who lost out on a lot of work, due to lack of content.
How do you handle comparisons, as kids of illustrious parents?
RM: In terms of comparison, there has been no problem, because people are used to watch us together on stage, but in different roles. I don’t think of it as pressure.
UG: I have never treated pressure negatively, because without pressure, the world cannot survive. We know our lives are finite and that itself is a pressure. I pick up on the good things, and grow. Up until now, I have had no luck in sharing screen space with my dad, but I am looking forward to that.
What did you learn about acting from your fathers?
RM: I learnt to take one step at a time, and that one is not invincible as an actor. I have also learnt to be patient, and to not have regrets for not doing a particular film.
UG: I primarily learnt from my mentor, the late Indrashish Lahiri, who guided us during our school plays. It was then that I fell in love with acting. My parents come in a lot later, because it was their friends who saw the spark in me first. I have always observed my dad’s dialogue delivery and muted, natural acting.
What are your parameters for saying yes to a film?
RM: I don’t like doing films back-to-back, and I don’t repeat roles that I have already done. If it does happen to be a stereotyped role, I try to break the mould, and treat it differently. Scripts play a vital role in selection.
UG: I am very selective about work, since one wrong step can undo all your hard work.
How do you manage to juggle the acting careers and your studies?
UG: We both attend classes. I am always juggling, and this adrenaline rush keeps me going. My priorities are two-pronged — academics and acting.
RM: It was very difficult for me to juggle school and theatre, and later cinema, but now, I know how to prioritise.
Has fame changed you?
RM: It has changed us for the better, I guess. The more people know you, the more you realise that you can be forgotten in a second, and that’s the fun of it.
Any dream role?
UG: Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver.
RM: Riggan Thomson in Birdman.
Clothes & accessories: Abhishek Dutta Pictures: Debarshi Sarkar Hair & make-up: Abhijit Paul Location courtesy: 2 Ashoka Road