Jisshu Sengupta is one of the few actors from the Bengali film industry, who is time and again seen sharing screen space with top Bollywood actors. The actor was seen opposite Rani Mukerji in Mardaani and Ileana D'Cruz in Barfi! and will be soon seen alongside Deepika Padukone in Piku and Sushmita Sen in Nirbaak. Jisshu, who also replaces Abir Chatterjee as the new Byomkesh Bakshi in Anjan Dutt's Kohen Kobi Kalidas, speaks to HT City on films, Bollywood and more:
You have worked with some of biggest Bollywood actors such as Tabu (Abar Aranye), Bipasha Basu (Shob Charitro Kalponik), Preity Zinta (The Last Lear), Ileana D'Cruz (Barfi!), Deepika Padukone (Piku) and Sushmita Sen (Nirbaak).
(Laughs) Yes. I just feel lucky to have had them as my co-stars.
So, do you have a favourite among them?
Earlier, I was a big fan of Kajol. Now, everyone is doing so well. Deepika is brilliant both when it comes to playing a glam doll as well as a girl-next-door. Priyanka Chopra is also doing a variety of roles. If one actor is doing well in one film, someone else is doing well in another.
Today, you can't have a favourite actor. When we were growing up, we were fans of either Aamir Khan or Shah Rukh Khan but today I don't see that craze or obsession with stars. There are two actors, Monica Bellucci and Salma Hayek, who I really admire. I really love them. My wife, Nilanjanaa, too knows that.
Every actor dreams of working with Amitabh Bachchan. You are one of the few who have acted alongside him in an English film, Rituparno Ghosh's The Last Lear (2008), and will now be seen in Piku, a Hindi film.
There's only one scene in Piku, where we share screen space. Shoojit da (Shoojit Sircar) had told Mr Bachchan that he would be casting me and Mr Bachchan was happy with his choice. He even mentioned my name in an interview to a magazine. I was quite surprised to see him remember my name just because we shot The Last Lear in 2008. When we met in Kolkata during the film festival, he said, "Tumi kothay? Tumi ekdino ele na shooting e. Tomar jonno amra wait korchi shooting e. (Where are you. Why didn't you come to watch the shooting? We were waiting for you at the shooting?) He said in chaste Bengali in front of everyone. A legend like Mr Bachchan remembering my name and saying all these is indeed incredible.
You are missing from the trailer of Piku.
(Cuts in) In Piku, I am doing a very interesting and cute role. So, from the beginning I knew what my role is.
Aren't you considering Bollywood seriously?
I got all the films from Barfi! to Mardaani and Piku sitting in Kolkata. I have a very bad PR. The casting directors play a very important role in Bollywood and I feel they know me because of the films I've done with Rituparno Ghosh. But now, I don't want to do small roles. However, that doesn't mean I only want to play the lead. I want to do meaty roles.
You were appreciated for your performance in Srijit Mukherji's Jaastiswar. Now, you are acting alongside Sushmita Sen in Mukerji's Nirbaak. You are also shooting for Anjan Dutt's forth Byomkesh Bakshi film, Kohen Kobi Kalidas.
For an actor, there can't be a dream phase. It's yet to come. I am just going with the flow. Yes, I am getting my dues after 17 years. I am a happy soul now. I don't envy anyone. I knew I would get my dues someday. I started doing good cinema when I was working with Ritu da (Rituparno Ghosh). After Ritu da passed away, I went into a shell. My second innings started with Srijit. He took me out of the shell with Jaatiswar and now good films are happening.
You must be missing Rituparno Ghosh.
Yes, my family and I miss him everyday. He was like our guardian.
How was it working with Sushmita Sen?
She is very down to earth, gorgeous and very friendly. And she is brilliant to work with.
Abir Chatterjee played Byomkesh Bakshi in the first three Byomkesh films directed by Anjan Dutt.
My wife is a big fan of Abir and she still feels Abir is the best Byomkesh. So that's a big challenge for me at home. When I was selected for the role, I wanted to do something different and new. Anjan da is shooting Kohen Kobi Kalidas in a different style. This new Byomkesh is witty, moody and is always on the move.
Are you planning to a produce a film?
Yes, may be at the end of this year or next year. We are looking for a good script. Content is the king. No star can make a film a hit.