In Kolkata, he’s huge. In Mumbai, he’s the proverbial survivor, busy with an assortment of movies requiring him to play every role from a don to a daddy. And he always has a surprise up his sleeve. Now, he has bought a cricket team, Royal Bengal Tigers. Over to Mithun Chakraborty in a quote-room drama with Roshmila Bhattacharya.
Would you agree that IPL is where all the action and public interest are today?
Yes, cricket has adapted well to the times. The five-day Tests gave way to One-day 50-over games and now it's the T20. As an entertainer I can appreciate the new form of the game. It appeals to everyone in this age of shortcuts. IPL's success is a good sign for me, since I've bought an IPL team myself. And I'm confident my Royal Bengal Tigers will roar.
There was some talk about you buying a football team, Howrah Union, and putting it in the I-league (the National Football League). How did your interest shift to cricket?
I'm still passionate about football but cricket is better for mileage and business.
How much did you spend on buying the Kolkata Tigers?
Are you confident of building on your investment?
There's a risk in any business. I'm motivated 40 per cent by business interests and 60 per cent by my love for the game. I'll be there for every game, hooting for my tigers. I'm confident my investment will pay off.
Mimoh, finally made his debut but Jimmy has fallen short of expectations.
A trade magazine called him a "star sensation".
There was talk about a launch movie by Venus, directed by Vikram Bhatt. Abbas-Mustan were interested too. Wouldn't they have been better kick-off projects?
It's not my style to fire a gun from someone else's shoulder. Mimoh was destined to start out with Jimmy. We expected just so much from the film, so it's okay.
Jimmy's release was pushed back several times.
(Cuts in) Filmmaking cannot be dictated by deadlines. Two more songs were added. One of them, Marhaba, was shot over 50 days.
Wasn't there a conscious effort to mould him on the Disco Dancer Mithun Chakraborty?
No way. Sometimes the camera does pick up certain similarities but that's understandable, he is my son after all. As for dance moves, he's shown that he has a style of his own. Marhaba was mind-blowing!
He carried a lot of puppy fat in Jimmy. Of late, he's been spotted working out at Andheri's Gold Gym.
He has to fight his own battles. His name is a combo of Michael Jackson and Muhammad Ali. They both fought to come up to the top. Mimoh will too.
I believe he's playing a negative role in Raj N Sippy's murder mystery Hamilton Palace.
No, no, he's the film's hero. He's only being projected as an anti-hero.
You're also working out for Veer in which you're supposedly to be going shirtless.
(Smiles) Yes, I'm trying to build up for the role. I play the father of Salman (Khan), so I have to.
Dad to a 40-plus actor?
No problem, aaj kal sab chalta hai. I'm Salman's bada bhai anyway.
You got rave reviews for Baba Sikander, the dangerous terrorist of Vikram Bhatt's Elaan. But then, just when everyone was expecting you to be the next big don, you disappeared.
Kya karen, good roles didn't come my way. I didn't want to be typecast. Guru was something different, it got good reviews too.
Well you're back to playing a don again in Don Muthuswamy?
Hey, this one is a gentleman don, hardly menacing since he gives up dongiri at the beginning of the film. It's a fun film, nothing like Elaan or The Don. Remember that? It was released over a decade ago. I think in 1995. And had me in a double role, Devendra and Daven. There was a lot of dongiri in that one.
Isn't this don inspired by Sylvester Stallone's 1991 comic caper Oscar?
Yeah, it's a lot like Oscar but I haven't seen the film.
You've worked with Shakti Samanta in films like Aar Paar and Khwab earlier.
(Cuts in) This is my eighth film with the banner. That's some record, huh?
How much is Ashim like his father?
Shaktida was a senior filmmaker, very reserved. I couldn't crack jokes with him. (Grins) Ashim is a friend so I could pull his leg. Now Ashim's son too is joining films. Maybe some day I'll get to work with the third generation of Samantas too.
In Soham Shah's film Luck you are playing a don too.
(Smiles) I do what people offer me. I've even got a new hair style for this film, thanks to Aalim.
Your last film, Buddhadeb Dasgupta's Kalpurush, was released after two years despite winning a National Award.
Everyone is always talking about how we should upgrade our cinema. But when I do a film that gets rave reviews at festivals abroad and wins a National Award back home, there are no buyers for it. That's how this business works.
While you're doing masala roles in Bombay, in Bengali films you're still regarded as an angry young man. How come?
(Smiles) I guess in Bengal they still see me as a Royal Bengal Tiger, a savior who can stand up to all odds. Even my talent hunt contest on Zee Bangla, Dhoom Dhamaka got the highest TRPs ever.
In Bombay, I don't get too much choices. But there are more serious roles in Ashu Trika's Zindagi Tere Naam with Ranjeeta.. You'll leave the cinema hall in tears.
Then there's Chal Chale in which I'm a lawyer hired by students. They file a case against the parents of a friend who was pushed into committing suicide. Not every child can be a topper. I have never pressurised my children to excel academically. The only condition was that they should finish their studies before they pursue their dreams.
Rimoh's getting ready to enter the film industry too.
Yeah, but as a director. He's writing a script.
Will Mimoh and you be in his first film?
(Laughs) If he pays me well, sure.
What about your daughter, Dishika?
(Smiles) She's still so young, she only talks big.