Rituparna-Prosenjit
Rituparna-ProsenjitPritam Sarkar

Prosenjit and Rituparna on their 50th film together, Ajogyo

Their 50th film Ajogyo, directed by Kaushik Ganguly, definitely calls for a celebration.

Tollywood’s last reigning superstars Prosenjit Chatterjee and Rituparna Sengupta, have been standing strong like pillars, ruling the Bengali film industry for more than three decades now. Their 50th film calls for a celebration. We speak with them as they get ready for the release of their film, Ajogyo, directed by Kaushik Ganguly. Excerpts:

Q

Tell us about your characters, Prosen and Parna.

A

Prosenjit: I play Prosen in this love story with a twist. Kaushik Ganguly never tells a simple tale, and this too has its layers. While Prosen and Parna (Rituparna) will mirror the lives of ordinary people experiencing identifiable emotions, it is a mature love story and definitely not a fairy tale. I think the younger audiences will have a lot of things to say about this film. And be it Praktan, Drishtikone or Ajogyo, there has always been a third person, who is undeniably crucial to the story, leading it to its climax. In this film, Silajit Majumder is that third person.

Rituparna: Parna is a middle-class housewife for whom ideologies and values matter a lot. She wanted to do a lot of things but got stuck with those middle-class values that led to trouble later. Parna thinks that this is how her life is going to be, but many changes come along the way, which form the crux of the film. Parna has a dishevelled and tired look born out of her daily struggles.

Q

What in Ajogya attracted you?

A

Rituparna: The script. It’s amazing.

Prosenjit: The script, and the fact that this is Ritu and my 50th film together. We had already decided that it either had to be Shiboprosad-Nandita, Srijit Mukherji or a Kaushik Ganguly film.

Rituparna: Kaushik wanted to come up with something very unique. He came up with more than one story and finally decided on this one. The decision-making process itself took more than a year.

Prosenjit: The same thing happened during Praktan.

Q

What does doing the 50th film together mean to you?

A

Rituparna: It’s a huge achievement to do the 50th film as a pair — I think it’s unheard of. This came with a lot of struggle and individual development, and I think the period where we didn’t work together has been a boon for us.

Prosenjit: That was a blessing.

Rituparna: Yes, I think without that lull, the 50th film together wouldn’t have created this noise.

Q

Be it Hindi or Bengali film industries, such notable onscreen pairs, doing several films together, are not there anymore. Why so?

A

Prosenjit: I think times have changed. First, the couple has to be accepted by the audience. There was a time when in commercial films, the heroheroines were repeated, be it Dharmendra-Hema Malini or Shah Rukh Khan-Kajol, the audiences used to love watching them on screen. But also in the last 10-15 years, I think the pattern of filmmaking has changed, with content taking precedence over actors. Songs and dances are not enough, and there is a lot more that people are expecting from films. If Ritu and I had started our careers now, I am not sure whether we could have completed 50 films together.

In many recent films of Rituparna or mine, there is no hero or heroine opposite us in the strict sense of the term. But there are pairs that people love to watch. During our time, actors Tapas Pal and Debashree Roy were a hit pair, and so are newgeneration actors Jeet-Koel, Ankush and Oindrila or Bonny- Koushani. People love watching them

Q

How different has working together been from your first to your 50th film?

A

Prosenjit: There are a lot of differences. The way time, audiences, and films changed, we grew too. She spent 30 years, and I spent 40 years. The level of maturity, the kind of films, and technology have also changed. And since both of us went on working, we adapted to everything. It was rather our duty to grasp every change that came our way. You need to learn every day, and we both are learners. I would say, we are first-bench students, very good learners.

Another thing that has mattered a lot is that we, as individuals, have never thought that this is enough. Directors might think about what role to offer me; I have covered mostly everything, but I would rather say that it is not even 10 percent of my goal. We have a huge appetite for work, and if something is needed for a project, even if it is at 2 am, we will do it. Perhaps the only change in us is that Ritu has become a little more punctual! (both laugh)

Rituparna: And this is not just our commitment towards work, I think it’s our responsibility too!

Q

What’s that x-factor in your onscreen chemistry?

A

Rituparna: I think the consistency and commitment towards the craft and the character. Whenever we are on the sets, we become those characters, and there’s nothing that stops us from believing that we are not our characters. It is that moment that matters.

Prosenjit: After all these years, our responsibility as actors is so great that we can’t just go wrong.

Q

Have you ever felt ajogyo (unworthy) during your career?

A

Prosenjit: If you see in anybody’s career, especially people like us, ajogyota is more than jogyota. Worthiness isn’t counted in this digital world. I think how good you are doesn’t matter nowadays; rather how bad you are matters more. I can be unworthy in my personal life on many levels, but when it comes to my profession, I must be worthy enough.

Rituparna: It’s a day-to-day struggle, whether you are worthy or unworthy, and it has become such a fine line now. Social media is always there to judge you in every possible way. We are always under the radar.

Prosenjit: And you can’t be the best in everything!

Ajogyo releases in cinemas on June 7.

X
Indulgexpress
www.indulgexpress.com