Being Kajol and Rani Mukerji’s cousin is surely not his only credit; Samrat Mukerji admits that life has changed now. He is the only Bengali actor in the cast of Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey, a film on Bengal’s Chittagong uprising. One would think he had a natural advantage over others in getting the subtleties right while playing freedom fighter Ganesh Ghosh. But Mukerji says that director Ashutosh Gowariker had done all the research work for everybody. He had even decided on the clothing, hair and make-up that his actors would wear. “I just knew that there’s a certain way you walk and talk when you wear a ‘dhoti’. But yes, I possibly related to the subject better because I’ve lived in Bengal and know its history,” Mukerji says.
Mukerji, apart from doing several Bengali films, was last seen as Bijju in Vishal Bhardwaj’s The Blue Umbrella. And when he got a call from Gowariker, he knew he’d be a fool to say no: “Ashutosh had come for a recce in Kolkata when I received the call. It was a dream come true. Until after I finished the look test, I didn’t even know who I was playing.” But Mukherji is glad he’s part of a story that needed to be told. “There were people aged between 15 to 30 who took part in the revolution. Nearly 55 kids participated. My character is someone who aided Surjya Sen in the Chittagong armoury raid. This film is a tribute to those unsung heroes.”
A lot of the film was about male bonding, and the actors on the sets were never short of it. Abhishek Bachchan, who plays Surjya Sen, and Deepika Padukone, who plays Kalpana Dutta, made sure they were approachable. “Abhishek is a really friendly guy and Deepika is a thorough professional,” Mukerji reveals, adding that he’s now looking forward to doing meaningful roles. “It’s rare for an actor to do a period film because nobody makes them anymore. Then I get a chance to play Ganesh Ghosh who is huge in Bengal. I was living a dream.”