Bollywood fans may know Prosenjit Chatterjee mainly as Dr Ahmedi from Dibakar Banerjee’s political drama, Shanghai (2012). However, head east, and you’ll realise the kind of fan following the Bengali actor enjoys. With over 90 titles to his name, he is one of the regional film industry’s biggest stars. In Bollywood, however, his father, veteran actor Biswajit, found more fame back in the ’60s, with films like Bees Saal Baad (1962), Shehnai (1964) and Kismat (1968).
And not known to many outside of Bengal is the story of the strained relationship between the star father and son. Now, decades later (since Biswajit’s second marriage caused the rift), the two made up publicly, when 76-year-old Biswajit recently attended the celebration of his son’s completion of 30 years in the Bengali film industry. Addressing his father with an affectionate “Bapi”, Prosenjit says, “Bapi maintained a close connection with my family, but not with me. The wall between us broke only because my wife (Arpita Chatterjee) took the initiative. I also realised that we needed to let go of what had happened 20 years ago…” He also adds that he didn’t want his son to miss out on spending time with his grandfather, saying, “The grandfather-grandson relationship is a precious one… I don’t want Trishanjit (Prosenjit’s son) to be deprived of it.”
Ask Biswajit about their bond, and he says, “He had some angst against me. But I have never spoken to him badly. He was immature… I knew when he’d have his own family, he would understand the pain of a father. I knew he would come back.”
Biswajit goes on to admit that his second marriage was his only problem. However, it is not a decision he regrets, saying, “I found a better life partner… she supports and assists me in everything. But he (Prosenjit) has also walked out of marriages. If a marriage doesn’t work, I think it’s better to walk out. Experience has taught me that no third person can ever solve a husband-wife problem.”
Biswajit goes on to credit Prosenjit’s wife Arpita, and his wife Ila, for the truce between father and son. “Ila insisted that I attend (the function for) Prosenjit’s completion of 30 years in Tollywood (the Bengali film industry). I went since I’m not sure if I’ll be alive to see his 50 years in the industry. It was a proud moment for me.”
Prosenjit also credits Arpita, saying, “It was Arpita’s idea to get us to unite at a public event. It was the kind of moment that might not come back. The family wasn’t complete without him as, at the end of the day, he is my father.” Ask Prosenjit if the father-son duo are now likely to work together, and he says, “I have told him that he should do at least two Bengali projects. But someone has to think of the right script.”