He walked into the world of Hindi films as the ‘Suspense Hero’, donning a felt hat, in Hemant Kumar’s thriller drama Bees Saal Baad (1962) crooning to none other than Waheeda Rehman: ‘Beqarar kar ke humein yoon na jayiye.’ After several thrillers, he picked up the guitar and reinvented himself with his chocolate boy looks and cine-goers hailed him as the new ‘Romantic Hero’.
This is yesteryear Bollywood icon Biswajit, agile in his 80th year and visiting the city to be the star guest at ‘Sureela Sansar’, an evening of songs of the Golden Era by Basant Girija Shree Society in aid of breast cancer on Sunday.
In an interaction on Friday, he said, “I have always been a great admirer of Netaji and I am making a bilingual film in Hindi and Bangla which will explore, truthfully, the life of this phenomenal world leader.”
Biswajit added that Netaji was very fond of Punjab and Punjabis and many of them were part of his Indian National Army (Azad Hind Fauj) and named stalwarts like Col Prem Kumar Sahgal, Col Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon, Maj Gen Shah Nawaz Khan.
“Shah Nawaz was a Punjabi Muslim and in times when Muslims are suspect, I would like to say that many Muslims were part of the Indian National Army and opposed to the division of the country,” he said.
The actor-producer had earlier made a documentary film on Netaji followed by a Bangla tele-serial. While the cast of the film is yet to be decided, Biswajit has already approached Lata Mangeshkar for a patriotic song in the film that will see a 2017 release. What will be the climax of the film?
“We are exploring all angles and Netaji’s nephew Subrata Bose is helping with the story. The climax is yet to be decided,” he says. Well, you cannot expect a suspense hero to reveal all!
Biswajit started as a stage actor, struggled to make it to Bangla films and also sang for a number of them. In Mumbai, there was no looking back after his debut film. He acted in some 200 Bangla and Hindi films. Father to Bengali superstar Prosenjit Chatterjee, his blockbuster Hindi films include Kohraa (1964), April Fool (1964), Shehnai (1964), Majboor (1964), Mere Sanam (1965), Kismat (1968), Do Kaliyan (1968), Paisa ya Pyar (1969), and many others. He was paired with famous leading ladies of his time like Waheeda Rehman, Mala Sinha, Asha Parekh, Sadhana, Mumtaz, Nanda, Saira Banu and Rajshree.
Kajra Mohabbat Wala
When director Manmohan Desai asked him to wear a feminine dress and dance with his leading lady Babita, mother of Karisma and Kareena, in the 1968 film Kismat for a song and dance number, it was not quite the thing for a hero to do. “I was a theatre actor and took up the challenge and the audience just loved it.” The song ‘Kajra mohabbat wala’, which is popular still, was sung by Shamshad Begum and Asha Bhonsle. It proved to be a trendsetter with actors like Rishi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan following the act in later films. Biswajit recounts, “Lataji liked the number so much that she invited me and Asha to dinner at her house. It is one of my most memorable evenings!” Incidentally, it was the last song recorded by Shamshad for OP Nayyar.
Ardent Rafi fan
Although he got several offers to sing in Hindi films, Biswajit declined because he was an ardent Rafi fan. He has no regrets and says, “If songs like ‘Pukarta chala hoon main’ are sung till date it is because these are in the voice of the all time great Mohammad Rafi.” However, he will be singing on Friday at Tagore Theatre in ‘Sureela Safar’. What songs? “Suspense!” says the star.