Praise by audience matters more than awards: Prosenjit Chatterjee
Bengali film superstar Prosenjit Chatterjee says he has no rancour that he has not been considered for any national honour as he feels the praises and love showered on him by the audience and directors have been his biggest awards.Prosenjit, who has dominated the Bengali film world for the past four decades and among those who kept it going during the 90s, says he prefers to draw inspiration from the late thespian Soumitra Chatterjee, whom he calls Uncle.
Bengali film superstar Prosenjit Chatterjee says he has no rancour that he has not been considered for any national honour as he feels the praises and love showered on him by the audience and directors have been his biggest awards.
Prosenjit, who has dominated the Bengali film world for the past four decades and among those who kept it going during the '90s, says he prefers to draw inspiration from the late thespian Soumitra Chatterjee, whom he calls 'Uncle'. ''I don't think about these issues (national awards) any more. Soumitra Uncle had got the national award as best actor for his portrayal in 'Podokkhep'(released in 2006) long four decades into his acting career ... I am nobody compared to him. I am nowhere near him,'' Prosenjit told PTI in an interview here.
The 61-year-old actor has worked in 349 films and has a number of Filmfare awards, Bengal Film Journalists' Award, the oldest association of film critics in the country and West Bengal Film Journslists' Awards, besides the special mention prize of the National Film Award in 2007 for 'Dosar' among others under his belt. His latest film 'Shesh Pata' (The Last Page) directed by Atanu Ghosh is slated to be released on April 14. His breakthrough was his role in 'Amar Sangi' opposite Vijeta Pandit way back in 1984.
He said, ''It will not matter even if no other award comes my way as I am overwhelmed by the praises and love showered by the audience, my directors, critics, everyone. That is my biggest award, my biggest vindication''. Srijit Mukherjee's 'Jatishwaar' (The Reincarnate), in which he essayed the role of Anthony Firangee , a 19th century Bengali language poet of Portuguese origin, was the most awarded film in the 61st National Film Awards.
He, however, wishes he could show Soumitro Chatterjee, who passed away in November 2020, his recent works. ''Soumitra Uncle was like a father to me. I still miss his presence and guidance. He was very happy with my performance in 'Autograph' in 2010 and had personally complimented me ... I would have been the happiest person if I could show my post-2020 films to him. If only he could see 'Shesh Pata','' the 'Moner Manush' actor said. 'Autograph' was a tribute to Satyajit Ray's 1966 film 'Nayak' and Bengal's evergreen hero Uttam Kumar. The film was the first foray by director Srijit Mukherjee.
Prosenjit is unabashed in his praise for the Dadsaheb Phalke awardee. ''Soumitra Chatterjee was a film school for me - a personality who had coped with so many challenges, who had essayed so many roles and in many shades - both in films and on stage. The way he handled his entire career is a lesson for all''. In 'Shesh Pata' Prosenjit plays the role of Balmiki, the central character who is a formerly well-known writer. ''I rate this role as one of my five most memorable characters, which I hope will be remembered by the ence years later, even when I am no more around.'' Asked about the character he essayed in 'Sesh Pata', Prosenjit said it is of a person with high intellect who is fired with the zeal to live yet wants to escape from everything. The shooting was done mostly during the pandemic, which brought out the pent-up emotions, frustration and restiveness in the role, he said.
He compared this role with that he played in 'Mayurakshi', which dwelt on the relationship between an elderly dementia-struck father and his successful son. ''The character in 'Mayurakshi' is a cultured, refined and educated person, who is an introvert. He is quite unlike Balmiki, who is a louder character and not so subtle''.
''I had only Bumba da (Prosenjit) in mind when I visualised Balmiki in 'Shesh Pata'. He has delivered a realistic, unforgettable performance in it,'' director Ghosh, who had directed Prosenjit in 'Mayurakshi' and 'Robibar' said.
Speaking of his the diversity in his oeuvre, Prosenjit said ''I had turned up in 'Moner Manush' and 'Autograph' in the same year. 'Baishe Srabon' and 'Aparajito' in which I had worked were released in 2011. My role in 'Mayurakshi', which was released in 2017, was appreciated by the audience''. 'Moner Manush' (Ideal Person), a Bengali film directed by Goutam Ghose, was an Indo-Bangladesh venture in which Prosenjit played the role of 19th century spiritual leader, poet and folk singer Lalon Fakir which won the Golden Peacock at the 41st International Film Festival of India. 'Baishe Srabon' was a Bengali neo-noir psychological thriller and 'Aparajito' (The Undefeated) revolves around the journey and hurdles faced by a young filmmaker during the making of his first full-length feature film. It was inspired by the popular Bengali eponymous novel Pather Panchali written by Bibhutibhushan Mukhopadhyay.
Prosenjit is candid when asked what keeps him ticking as an actor. ''Three things - to earn money for my son's education, to ensure that my family lives happily and for higher box office returns. But some films I have acted in were for my own satisfaction.'' But he readily accepted that he has to think of both the box office and his own creative satisfaction as an actor while acting. Prosenjit had debuted as a lead actor in Bimal Roy's film 'Duti Pata' in 1983. He had started much before that as a child artiste in Hrishikesh Mukherjee's 'Chhoto Jigyasa' for which he had won the Most outstanding work of the Year Award by Bengal Film Journalists' Association in 1969.
He was part of several mainstream Bengali blockbusters including 'Amar Sangi' (1984), 'Bandini' (1989), 'Asha Bhalobasha' (1989), 'Sasurbari Zindabad' (2000), till he was reinvented by ace director Rituparno Ghosh in 'Chokher Bali' in 2003 and 'Shob Choritro Kalponik' in 2009. He then became a regular in films of Goutam Ghosh, Srijit Mukherjee, Kaushik Ganguly and many other directors including Atanu Ghosh. During his long career he has worked with Bollywood actors like Aishwarya Rai Bachchan (Chokher Bali) and Bipasha Basu (Shob Choritro Kalponik) and Vijeta Pandit (Amar Sangi).
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