Mithun Chakraborty re-invents himself
From Do Anjane (1976) to Tullkalam (2007), Mithun Chakraborty is in no mood to stop. He was hailed as the poor man's Amitabh Bachchan in the 1980s.
After three decades Chakraborty, who is now in his late 50s, is carving the perfect balance between Bengali and Hindi films, helming hit after hit on the Tollywood screen and keeping viewers mesmerised with his character roles in Mumbai filmdom.
Formula for success
Struggle has been part of his life. In his prime, Chakraborty committed a blunder in Bollywood by signing every project that came his way. The hits turned to flops and sooner than later (for a large part of the ‘90s) the National Award-winning actor settled down in the south setting up his hotel business and doing low-budget films that recovered costs.
A similar formula works for him in Tollywood now, where he is a one-man army. Over the last two years, the biggest hits in Tollywood have been Mithun-starrers - Juddho (2005), MLA Phatakeshto (2006) and Tullkalam. This, at a time when Tollywood is starved for hits.
"Bengali audiences relate to him. The moment they get the indication that he is appearing on screen they start whistling. He is a Bengali at heart and that is why Kolkatans relate to him. He is also flexible to work with," says Haranath Chakraborty who directed him in Tullkalam.
Director Swapan Saha, who has worked with him in several projects including MLA
, points out, "He is actor with all-India appeal and you are assured of a great initial recovery." Coming up are Samir Chanda's
Ak Nadir Golpo
and the sequel to
Throughout his career Mithun has done offbeat films like Buddhadeb Dasgupta's
, Rituparno Ghosh's
and Goutam Ghose's
In Bollywood, his re-invention has been slow but Mithun has good will that can not be wiped off. He had all but disappeared from mainstream Hindi films when Vikram Bhatt cast him as the bad guy in
(2005). A spurt of films followed. Salman and Sohail Khan brought him back in
Lucky: No Time For Love
(2005) and Kallpana Lajmi cast him as a debauch in
The trend continues with Aaditya Datt casting him in the romantic thriller, Dil Diya Hai (2006), but the turning point has been Mani Ratnam's Guru (2007). Coming up are Hansal Mehta's Raakh, Ganesh Acharya's Swami and Samir Karnik's Mera Bharat Mahaan.
Still an enigma
Some rave about his star value and feel he has the potential to emerge as a leading character artist others feel the actor is so busy promoting his son Mimoh that he has neglected his career.
Aaditya Datt says, "I needed a larger than life person and I could only think about him." Vikram Bhatt states, "He is a baby. He can fit into any slot."