National Award winning Bengali actor Prosenjit Chatterjee is keen to wield the megaphone and follow in the footsteps of legends like Guru Dutt to make movies that have "intelligence and mass appeal".
"Direction is my next career choice. I would make movies of Guru Dutt, Asit Sen and Mani Ratnam style which would have intelligence and yet mass appeal. I would make movies for the mass not for myself," Prosenjit told IANS on phone from Kolkata.
The 47-year-old, known for his performances in Rituparno Ghosh's Chokher Bali and Dosar, cut his teeth in 1968 as a child artist with director Jagannath Chatterjee's Chhotto Jignasha, in which his father Biswajeet played the lead.
Later in 1983, he returned as a full-fledged actor with Duti Pata and has remained on top of the Bengali film industry ever since.
The actor describes his journey as challenging.
"Every moment of my journey since I started has been very challenging. Before coming in front of the camera I make sure that I have done proper homework and I always stay focused," said Prosenjit, who won his first National Award for playing a cheating husband in Dosar.
He says his father Biswajeet, a well-known name in Hindi films, was his inspiration, but he was driven more by the stars of Bengali cinema - Uttam Kumar and Soumitra Chatterjee.
"My father was a fantastic actor, but I looked up to Uttam Kumar and Soumitra Chatterjee as my role model," said the actor who has been in the industry for more than 25 years and featured in movies like Omor Shongi, Apon Amaar Apon and Ami, Yaseen Aar Amaar Madhubala.
He is often compared with the legendary Uttam Kumar, but Prosenjit doesn't share the same sentiment.
"I shouldn't be compared with Uttam Kumar. Uttam Kumar was exceptional and no one either in the Bengali film industry or any other film industry can ever match his talent. Once I got the chance to play the teenaged Uttam Kumar and I feel blessed," he said.
His movies are always a hit at the box office but fail to stay beyond a couple of weeks at the single screen theatres.
Explaining the reason, he said: "There has been a huge change in the business strategy of film production. Where there used to be 80 to 90 releases, now it has gone up to 100 to 120."
Asked why commercial Bengali movies are not released in multiplexs, he quipped: "We have a specific audience who would never visit a multiplex. Our films make three times the business Bollywood movies do in multiplexes in the same time," said Prosenjit.
The actor feels there is a lull in good scripts in the Bengali film industry, which was earlier known for its unique storyline and melodious music.
"There is a lull in good scripts in the Bengali film industry. Not only from Bollywood, films were even copied from the south. However, some young scriptwriters are coming up with unique story ideas. There are films based on Sarat Chandra Chatterjee and Rabindranath Tagore novels. They are being highly appreciated, but surprisingly what makes business are the rhapsodic blends of smile and tears and song and dance," said Prosenjit.
Asked what could be done to bring back the glory of Bengali cinema, he said: "We can't bring back talents like Satyajit Ray or Uttam Kumar. The trend has changed and fiscally the Bengali film industry has grown in proportion."
The actor had tried his luck in Bollywood in yesteryears actress Mumtaz's comeback movie Aandhiyaan where he played Mumtaz's son. The film was directed by David Dhawan.
He also featured in director Mehul Kumar's Meet Mere Man Ke (1991).
"I want to be recognised as an actor from India. I never strove to be a Bollywood star. I won't mind doing a Hindi film or a southern language movie if I like the role," said Prosenjit.