Today, he might be one of the most hated politicians, but as an actor, Tapas Pal was always known as a boy next door.
In his 34-year career, Pal has mostly played the role of a docile boy, a struggling protagonist or a crusader for the cause of women. He has never portrayed a character as vile as the words he delivered in Choumaha village, where he threatened CPI(M) women with rape and murder.
Pal's first movie – and perhaps his most famous yet – was the 1984 hit Dadar Kirti in which he portrayed a docile and innocent village boy who would easily be taken for a ride by his friends. To most people that was Pal's enduring image till his shocking comments were flashed across television screens on Monday.
"I am completely shocked. I just can't believe that Tapas could say this. He was such a sweet character," said actor-director, Aparna Sen who has shared screen space with him Kori Diye Kinlam.
Pal, now in his mid-fifties, built an image of a do-good, feel-good Samaritan through his movies. His looks and demeanour suited that sort of characterisation.
The films that helped establish that sort of an image were Saheb (1981), Bhalobasha Bhalobasha (1986) and Gurudakshina (1987). In the 2012 film 8:08 Er Bongaon Local, Pal played a character who risks his life to stand up for a woman constantly harassed by local thugs.
Singer Usha Uthup too expressed shock over Pal's outburst. "I am shell shocked. None could imagine he could do something of this sort," she said.