Mithun Chakraborty on Kabuliwala: ‘Everyone now wants to divide society, this film is a big message in that regard’
Mithun Chakraborty Exclusive: Kabuliwala releasing on December 22. Before that, Mithun Chakraborty had a chat with Hindustan Times Bangla. By Subhasmita Kanji.
It's winter time and the Kabuliwala is coming again. The cinema halls will be dominated by the presence of Kabuliwala soon, a film based on Rabindranath Tagore's popular short story Kabuliwala, directed by Suman Ghosh. It is set to release on December 2023.
Before that, Hindustan Times Bangla sat down for an exclusive interview with Mithun Chakraborty, who plays Rahmat, the titular Kabuliwala in the film. He shared his experiences working on this film and the relevance of Rabindranath Tagore today.
Firstly, can you share your experience working on this film?
Mithun Chakraborty: Initially, I was afraid. Then, after passing the audition, I started working as Kabuliwala. After its release, I will understand how the audience perceives it, whether I made a mistake or did it right.
Were you initially reluctant to accept this role for any specific reason?
Mithun Chakraborty: The two individuals who previously played this character are legendary artists, great actors. I was afraid that if I did something wrong, everyone would criticize it heavily.
Mithun Chakraborty: Kabuliwala is not just any film that I thought of doing casually. Although it's a Bengali film, it's important to remember that it's about an Afghan speaking Bengali, not a Bengali speaking Afghan. Nowadays, everyone observes everything very minutely, so this was a big deal. The film shows how an Afghan learns Bengali and speaks it with a mix of Hindi and Bengali.
How did you prepare for this character?
Mithun Chakraborty: I had a friend named Jamaluddin Khan, a Pathan from Afghanistan, who was a cook by profession. He used to bring me different foods. I tried to mimic the way he spoke breathlessly and walked. The way he used to get out of breath while speaking, the hesitant way he spoke, I imitated that, and the producer and director were very happy with it. They agreed and said our Kabuliwala would be just like this.
Mithun Chakraborty is known for his great bonding with kids. How did you bond with Anumegha?
Mithun Chakraborty: I love children a lot. I enjoy being with them and become a child myself. I bonded very well with Anumegha from the beginning. We became one. We were always together. Then, at one point, I told Suman that we were ready for shooting.
This is your second project with Suman. How was the experience?
Mithun Chakraborty: He came to me and said that without me, his Kabuliwala would not be complete. Then I set some conditions, and he agreed. After that, this project happened. He is very easy-going, without any complications. He tells a story and explains it in a simple way.
Kabuliwala is mainly made for children, but how relevant is Rabindranath Tagore for children today?
Mithun Chakraborty: People over 30 will enjoy it. For those between 20 and 30, it's a matter to think about whether they have time to read Tagore. They look at their phones before brushing their teeth in the morning and go to sleep with their phones. I'm not against social media; it's very useful for knowledge. But then 100, even 200 percent of it is trash! I don't know why the film should not be watched, but I know why it should.
Mithun Chakraborty: Everyone is now trying to divide society. Kabuliwala is a great example of this. Because above all is humanity, nothing is above that. This is a big lesson from this film.
When Rabindranath Tagore wrote Kabuliwala, there was a certain suspicion towards some people. Has that changed today, or is it the same?
Mithun Chakraborty: Not Kabuliwala, say Hindu-Muslim. Hindus avoid Muslims and vice versa. Like I said, everyone now wants to divide society. This film is a big message in that regard. Like Mini says, 'Your God's name is Allah, my God's name is Thakur. You bow, I bow.' That's the truth. That's the final word. Humans created religion, but Allah and Thakur created humans. So, if you think otherwise, it's your own thought."
Kabuliwala is a character from a short story by Rabindranath Tagore, depicting a friendly Afghan trader in Kolkata, India.