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Tollywood ka superhero
The son of Biswajit, the '60s matinee idol of Bollywood, Prosenjit Chatterjee's tryst with films began in 1967 when he was merely six years old in his father's film Chhotto Jigyasha (Small Question). In Dui Prithibi (Two Worlds), Prosenjit returned to play the young Uttam Kumar. His debut as the male lead in Duti Pata (Two Leaves), on the lines of Raj Kapoor's blockbuster Bobby, won the hearts of millions of cinegoers at home and abroad, and made him the actor to watch out for in the coming years. Over the next 27 years, he has delivered numerous hits, be it potboiler masala films or arthouse movies. Prosenjit has been the true heir to the 'superhero' tag that formerly rested with Uttam Kumar. After a Golden Peacock for Moner Manush in 2010 and a National Award for Dosor in 2007, the actor says his journey has just begun.
THE INITIAL YEARS
Despite being a star son and child actor, it was an uphill task for Prosenjit to bag his first film. His father had relocated to Mumbai by then. He did not get Biswajit's backing or his endorsement. He had to knock on the doors of producers for work like any other struggler in the industry.
ON PROSENJIT, THE ACTOR
"From Amor Songi (Eternal partner) to Moner Manush (Soulmate), it has taken me more than two decades to get here. Several times things went wrong, I could feel that things were not happening for me and I was just not getting anywhere. But instead of giving up, I told myself lorbo (will fight) and jeetbo (will win). During the initial days, I worked extremely hard just to stay afloat. Today I am glad I am appreciated as an actor. "
"MEANINGFUL" CINEMA VERSUS MASALA MOVIES
"I believe it is easy to relate to the characters I portrayed in Khela and Utsab as they are more humane. It is, instead, difficult to churn out performances of larger-than-life characters, like those shown in potboilers. I am happy meaningful films like Unishe April, Dosar, Moner Manush, Sob Choritro Kalponik came to me. "
FEATHER IN THE CROWN
Receiving the Golden Peacock for Moner Manush will always be one of the most memorable moments of my career. The appreciation I got for Dosar, Sob Choritro Kalponik and Chokher Bali was stupendous, but I still can't get over my first film release (Duti Pata) on a Friday, some 27 years ago. Everything I have worked on so far, all that I have achieved, goes back to that moment when my first film released.
ON 'MONER MANUSH'
I wanted to work with Gautam Ghose and when opportunity knocked, it took me a nano second to say yes to the film. It is so satisfying to do a good movie. As an actor, I do not look or think about whether the film will do well while I shoot. If I'm feeling happy while I'm shooting and am satisfied after I'm done, that's it.
INNINGS IN TOLLYWOOD
If you're an actor, you have to be prepared for both Test matches and the Twenty20s. One has to adapt to both forms of cinema and also be economically viable for the producer/director.
THE ROAD AHEAD
I always want to work, but after so many years I want to be able to do what my creative self demands. You can never have a foolproof future plan, can you? Life takes it's own course. I never knew that Dosar, Utsav and Autograph would happen. I never planned Chokher Bali with Ash. It happened. So I let life take its course and I go with the flow.
The second Sunday of each month is the only holiday I get as the industry is closed on that day. I am an early riser and, on working days, I leave home with son Trishanjit. Wife Arpita has a strict diet regime which is pasted on the kitchen wall: No mangoes, no hilsa. Breakfast consists of a glass of fruit juice and a toast. Work goes on till 9 pm.
"I want to work for as long as the public wants me to. Cinema is the only thing I understand. My production company, Idea Creations, is working hard to produce good stuff. We currently have Ganer Opare, a wonderful serial based on Tagore. My fee is much higher now. But, to earn it, I have to toil harder as I have become the moner manush to my huge number of fans. "
Prosenjit is fondly known as Bumbada. He has been acting from the age of four. He has worked in more than 300 films. He has cut down on smoking (from 40 cigarettes a day to 10) but hates the moral policing around it. He has innumerable cups of tea every day. He loves playing the tabla.
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