Only a few actors manage to taste the kind of success Bengali actor Dev has at such an early stage of his career. The actor-turned-MP says that it’s failure and not success which has been his biggest teacher. “I love my failures as they have taught me to survive in the industry the hard way,” he smiles. The Chander Pahar actor is busy promoting Birsa Dasgupta’s new film Shudhu Tomari Jonyo, but says that an overdose of promotions can harm the product. This is an important year for Dev.
He has turned producer with Kaushik Ganguly’s next and admits that now he makes it a point to know the content of the film before he signs them. But that doesn’t mean he won’t be seen in hard-core commercial movies. Commercial films are the backbone of any film industry, says the actor candidly. Happy with the way his career has shaped up, the Buno Haansh actor promises that in 2016 his choice of films will take the audience by surprise. HT spoke to Tollywood’s heartthrob about content-oriented cinema, his life’s philosophy and more.
Five Bengali films have released this Durga Puja and everyone is going all out to promote them.
It’s not possible for me to go to every hotel and eat. I am trying to promote the film in my own way. Audiences are aware that Shudhu Tomari Jonyo (STJ) is releasing on puja. An overdose of promotions may affect a film’s fate. My earlier films haven’t been able to generate the kind of curiosity STJ has. I have been inundated with calls from friends in Mumbai, who are enquiring about the film. Audiences know that STJ is a content-oriented commercial film. This sets it apart from other hard-core commercial films.
You have turned producer with Kaushik Ganguly’s film Dhumketu. As an actor and a producer, do you think it’s wise to release five films at the same time?
This has never happened before. If all the films generate revenue, next year producers will have the courage to release more films. If the films fail, then producers or directors won’t release their films on puja next year. Puja is the best time to release films. I remember till a few years ago, we didn’t have any major releases during the festivals. Bollywood dominated the box office. But I took the risk and released Bindass on Eid and Chander Pahar on Christmas. My films have faced competition against Bollywood. Now, we are competing amongst each other. This is healthy competition. When we go to a hotel for buffet dinner, we are served a variety of dishes. We can pick and choose. The same is happening with Bengali films. Content will sell at the end of the day.
After Buno Haansh and Chander Pahar, you have been mostly seen in semi-commercial content-oriented films and not hard-core masala films.
As an actor and a mass hero, both the genres demand a different kind of audience. When acting in a hard-core masala film, we have to behave in a certain way. These kinds of films enjoy more popularity than intellectual cinema. That’s why Jackie Chan is more popular than Tom Hanks. Commercial films are the most popular genre and are the backbone of any industry. Not all actors of hardcore commercial films have tasted success in intellectual films. I am lucky that I have been accepted in both the genres. It’s difficult to handle one’s career. Now, at this stage of my career, I need to decide whether I want to earn money or act in good films. Commercial films pay us more. But I am happy that directors are considering me for middle-of-the-road cinema. Films like Buno Haansh, Chander Pahar and Arshinagar have archival value. I’m glad that all the established directors are approaching me.
Do you think the established directors, who have approached you, want to rope you in their films because of your popularity?
Filmmakers feels secure when they rope in an actor who enjoys a certain amount of fan following. I believe that a star can attract the audiences to the theatres in the first few days but the film will continue to make money if only the content is good. So, yes, now I am conscious about the content of the film. I don’t want to be a one-week wonder. If a film pulls in audiences in the second week, it means the storyline is strong. So, as an actor my responsibility is to ensure the audience comes in the first, second and third week too. STJ has a strong storyline and will impress every audience.
What keeps you grounded?
Criticism is a part of the journey and it keeps me grounded. I was not brought up in Kolkata so my Bengali pronunciation wasn’t clear when I joined Tollywood. But have I worked on the accent? This is something to be noted. I have grown with my films and my failures. I love my failures as they have taught me more than success.
Watch Shudhu Tomari Jonyo trailer here:
You sound philosophical.
Not really. Ekhon bujhte sikhechi (I understand now). Earlier, I would act in a film and run from the set the moment my shot was over. Now, I take more interest in films. I am part of the film industry and have understood that you can’t be selfish. This is a small industry and it’s our responsibility to make it bigger.
What has the industry taught you?
Don’t trust anyone and never take your success seriously. Success is temporary. Never breakdown when you fail. Try harder. I have taken maximum risks when I was being criticised. I did films such as Chander Pahar and Arshinagar. I don’t know how to play football but that doesn’t mean I will never try. Now, I love to try new things. The kind of films I will do in 2016 will take the audience by surprise.