Ahead of the release of Bangla film Jyeshthoputro, Prosenjit Chatterjee talks to Titas Chowdhury about his life as a superstar, and the late auteur Rituparno Ghosh
Jyeshthoputro looks like a story with several complex layers. Was this one of the factors that drew you to the film?
The subject of the film drew me towards it. The idea of Jyeshthoputro was conceived by Rituda (Rituparno Ghosh) long ago, and he wanted to do the film with me. But, back then, I was doing Autograph. That was one reason I could not do it. I asked him to hold the film for some time but it stayed in my mind.
It is a very real film, like an incidental journey. What you said about the film is correct. Film stars and celebrities live in their own space, and they often do not know how they are supposed to behave. They cannot show their true emotions. Kaushik (Ganguly) knew about this subject and he had been working on it. And Jyeshthoputro was a way of getting Rituda back. You could say this film is a tribute to him.
It must have been a nostalgic journey.
Of course! Both Kaushik and I have a lot of respect for Rituda and he hugely contributed to our careers. Kaushik was the right person to direct the film. He also felt I should do the film.
This film talks about complex and lost relationships between siblings. Could you shed some light on that?
It is a film that is centred on a ritual spanning four to five days. I play Indrajit, a superstar, in this film. I played a superstar in Autograph too. But this is not the story of a superstar. This is the story of the duality that resides within a character. One part of him is that of a superstar who needs to abide by his image and the other part is that of a man who has just lost his father. That duality and the complex relationship that he shares with his brother attracted me.
My character has been living in his own world for a long time but his brother is more rooted. Jyeshthoputro is the journey of two people – one who is very practical and middle-class and another who comes from the same roots but cannot go back there and belongs to a whole different world now. But they come together following the death of their father because of a ritual. This film is about complexities, lost relationships and detachment from roots. I always believe that people like Indrajit have a lonely fall. They cannot be their true selves.
Since you are a superstar in real life, were you able to relate to this duality in your character?
Rituda thought of his story when I lost my mother. He was with me and my family throughout the period of mourning, like a true friend. For an actor, his stardom gets in the way even when he is dealing with a situation like this. Hence, I could connect with my character very well. Let me give you an example. When I finished performing a ritual after my mother’s death, the media asked me to do it again so that they could take photographs. That is something that people do not understand. They had no idea what I was going through at that time. I had just lost my mother! As a star, you have to fight these things. Even when I have a bad day, I have to put on a happy face when I walk out of my house.
In the trailer, we see you saying that the film industry is like a blood bank. After being part of it for so long, how do you view it?
The film is full of some wonderful lines and you see only a handful of them in the trailer. In the film, I tell my brother that we are related to each other by blood and no matter how hard we fight, we can come home and hug each other. When I say the ‘industry is like a blood bank’, we meant that if you do not give back to the industry, you cannot survive. Returns are important there. You always have to fight to give them returns. But this is true also. At the end of the day, it is all about what and how much you give back.
This is the first time you are working with Ritwick Chakraborty. What have you learnt from working with a relatively young actor like him?
Ritwick is a wonderful actor. He is not only one of the best actors in the Bangla film industry but also one of the finest actors in Indian cinema. Working with Ritwick was overdue for me. But we were waiting for the right subject. The character that Ritwick plays is very rooted. Nobody could have played it as well as he did. My character, on the other hand, needed to have an aura. Despite being so different, they are brothers.
Both Ritwick and I believe in doing good films. On the set, there were no starry airs. I used to be present on the set when he used to give his shots. I used to give him cues. You have to believe in this kind of film to do it. It cannot be a situation where you can say, ‘My shot is done, so let me go back to my van.’ You have to work while keeping in mind the perception and perspective of the director. So, yes, it was a great experience working with Ritwick. We think alike in many ways.
Last year, we talked when Drishtikone had just released. You had said that despite releasing along with Avengers: Infinity War, the box-office collections of Drishtikone were huge on the very first day. Jyesthoputro is in a similar situation. How positive are you about this film?
Yes! When we released Drishtikone last year, we had that pressure. Though it was directed by Kaushik, it was more of a mainstream film. Jyesthoputro, of course, is also a mainstream film. Mainstream films with quality content are working today. The strength of this film is Rituparno Ghosh, Kaushik Ganguly, the coming together of Prosenjit and Ritwick for the first time, and the Bengali sentiments and emotions in it.
As far as Avengers: Endgame is concerned, we know what is going to happen (Laughs). Regional films have a different audience. If we can strike a chord with our audience, nothing like it! Jyesthoputro is a film that will enjoy a long run in theatres. Kaushik’s last film (Bijoya) performed fantastically well. Even if we earn five per cent of Avengers’ collections, we will be happy. We are happy as long as it does not affect our film and I don’t think it will. Our films are frequently faced with elections, Avengers films, Indian Premiere League and World Cup tournaments. If we don’t face challenges, why should we do films?