Jeetu Kamal on the success of Aparajito: Many directors might think I am snobbish, but I’m picky about my projects
In a conversation with Hindustan Times, Jeetu Kamal opened up about his life, career and thoughts after the massive success of his film Aparajito.
Actor Jeetu Kamal continues to touch new heights in his career with his transformation as Satyajit Ray in director Anik Datta’s film Aparajito. Inspired by the true story of the making of legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray’s BAFTA-winning directorial debut Pather Panchali, Jeetu stepped into the shoes of Ray and his casting was nothing less than a blessing. He told Hindustan Times, “I was the second option. By hook or crook, the makers wanted an artist when Abir Chatterjee left the project citing issues with his schedule. I had no idea about it initially but I was fortunate.”
Aparajito performed remarkably across theatres in West Bengal and overseas. Jeetu’s portrayal as Aparajito (Based on Satyajit Ray) has made people refer to him by his character. “I have never done any character like this before. As much as people have loved my character Aparajito, I would never want anyone to call me Aparajito. It’s great that people are praising me as Aparajito but I would prefer to remain Jeetu, as an actor. I would never want anyone to forget my name and start calling me by my character’s name.”
(Also read: Aparajito actor Debashis Roy on his struggles)
So, how did Jeetu prepare to get into the skin of Satyajit Ray? “To play Satyajit Ray, the legend, I required some special attention. Just like how I used to prepare for exams in school, I had to stay up late at night and go through a lot of audio-visuals, books and manuscripts. I wish I had more time to prepare.”
Audiences have always proved to be brutally honest about actors essaying the role of icons. However, it made no difference to Jeetu. “I never get second thoughts about my work. I, as an actor, think about my own creative satisfaction first. I know for Bengalis it is too important-- Paan theke chun khosle pore (If anything goes wrong even for a second) it can be a risky business. But what’s life without risk? I'm very fearless and confident about my work.”
Jeetu believes that a lot of attention initially went into his appearance instead of his acting skills, before the release of the film. Jeetu underwent an operation to alter his teeth setting for Aparajito, one of the many things done to embody Ray. “Yes I had to change my teeth setting but more than that, I had to spend sleepless nights preparing for the film, I had to go through a lot. Actors all around the world do it for their projects, I am no different. I think Indian actors often don’t speak about these things to refrain from gaining unwarranted promotion. You will find many BTS video clips of Jackie Chan injured on the sets, you won’t find the same for Shah Rukh Khan or Prosenjit Chatterjee or even Jeet.”
Aparajito has become an undeniable turning point for Jeetu Kamal which he doesn’t want to let go “I have gained so much from this character. I am disappointed to think about leaving behind. But we have to, as an actor, that’s what our profession demands. It will always stay with me.”
Jeetu is yet to finalise his next project after the success of Anik Datta's directorial and he isn’t bothered about people’s expectations. “The audience will always have expectations from a good project. I have always been picky about my projects. Many directors might think I am snobbish. But that’s not the case, why would I eat something which I cannot digest? I am ready to live on an empty stomach rather than eating something wrong and harming my health.”
The actor made his debut in 2010 with ETV Bangla’s Niyoti. In the same year, he appeared in Prosenjit-starrer-Jor Jar Muluk Tar. Whether big or small screen, Jeetu said he will always be open to ‘good projects.’ “The power of a small screen is beyond our imagination. It can connect you to rural India. The only problem is people might not remember you once the show is over. The small screen generates more money. Why do you think actors are working on small screen projects? They aren’t stupid. I couldn’t sign any films before because I was very much engaged with serials. Thanks to the pandemic, I got some time and did Aparajito. But, these days I have been feeling a little depressed. I think I am missing the TV industry."