The Bengali superstar talks to Srishti Jha about his journey of almost 300 movies, the changing perspective of Bengali cinema, and the generation next moviemakers.
Two of your movies Houseful and Afterword have been screened at Osian's Film festival this year. Which movie and which character in the movie is closer to you?
I think both the movies and both the characters are closer to me. As an actor I could relate well to both of them. Neel in Afterword is poet. His character has got the element of realism, a romantic aura to it. His character revolves more around his wife's thought process. It has a lot to do with the essence of rebirth. As far as Nikhil's character is concerned, he is more of a rudimentary guy who has this non-compromising attitude towards everything. A lot of people came up to me and said that this role has got a biographical tone to it and I am playing myself. But it just had some shades of me. It was a very challenging role.
What all changes have been taking place in Bengali cinema these days?
Lots of changes I must say. A new bundle of young directors, actors are coming up representing a new face of cinema. Bengali cinema has evolved a lot in terms of technicalities, projection, presentation and ideas. Niche films are coming up and films are being taken out of Bengal in the mainstream culture. A new video theatre market has come up in Bengal, which is a big change. With the multiplexes coming up we are getting to promote our films very well.
How do you perceive Bengali cinema in comparison to Bollywood?
Almost everything is the same. Just the market, network and culture is different.
What do you think is the most imperative step, which needs to be taken to define cinema in a new way?
I think we really need to encourage the new generation filmmakers. This will give a new direction to the film business. I always make it a point to pull up the generation next people to come up with good work.
What next you are working on?
I am working on a movie called Clerk, which is a very interesting film. I am also ready with Hangover, Bangla Bachao, and Tara, which is a political film. I am also working in a film directed by Gautam Ghosh.
You are addressed as Shah Rukh Khan of the Bengali film industry. How do you feel about it?
I don't consider myself as one. Shah Rukh is a junior and we have a very different journey all together. When he entered the industry, things were in a very flourishing mode. In my case the Bengali film industry was almost on a dying verge. But I would like to call myself a fighter. I fought a lot to revive Bengali cinema and hopefully things have changed a lot.
You are almost 300 films old now. What do you have to say about that?
It has been a long journey. It has changed me a lot as a person and as an actor.
How was the experience of being there at The Osian's?
Truly wonderful. Delhi people have always loved cinema. Excellent appreciation is what we get over here.