National Award-winning Bengali actor Prosenjit Chatterjee says he is more interested in being a part of content-driven films where his role offers more substance than the length of his screen presence.
He won the Best Actor award at the Jio Filmfare Awards (East) 2018 on Saturday for his work in the film “Mayurakshi”. The story of the film revolves around the journey of an aged father, played by veteran actor Soumitra Chatterjee, and his son (Prosenjit).
“One of the interesting parts of the whole film is that it is an internal journey of these two characters and revolves around a conversation that explores the relationship between the father and son.
“I saw many elderly people, who usually do not come to the theatre anymore to watch films, coming and watching this film. For me, that is an achievement — bringing back a generation to the theatre who stopped coming.”
He thinks that finding a balance between commercial and parallel cinema is very important for an actor’s growth.
“We always need commercial films to grow as an industry economically but then, we have to be clued in to the changing language of cinema. Whether in a Bengali film industry or in Bollywood, we need a Salman Khan superhit like “Tiger Zinda Hai” and a “Newton” at the same time.
“In my career that is what I am also trying to do now. So my priority has changed from screen time to substance of the character that I am playing in the film,” he said.
According to him, it is the responsibility of senior actors to promote content-driven films.
“You know why I love and respect Aamir (Khan) is because of this – supporting some of the finest content with his stardom, whether as a producer or an actor,” said Prosenjit.
“I think we all should do that because the ideal way to contribute to cinema is – earn your stardom in the beginning of your career, utilise the power by supporting good cinema for the growth of cinema at a later stage when you are influential enough. I am happily doing that,” said the actor, who made his acting debut with Bimal Roy’s “Duti Pata” in 1983.
However, it took some time for Prosenjit to convince himself to step away from the image of a quintessential commercial hero.
“I knew I was growing as an actor and was stuck in doing the same thing of bashing the bad guys, saving the girl, riding bikes and romancing heroines…but to make a shift from there, I knew people would stop whistling and cheering in the theatre seeing my introduction scene in the film. I had to prepare myself to let go of such a humongous attention,” shared the actor.
And his choice of content-driven films continues with his upcoming releases — National Award-winning director Kaushik Ganguly’s “Drishtikon” and “Kishore Kumar Junior”.
The latter is a “unique concept” where a singer, played by Prosenjit, sings all the songs of legendary singer Kishore Kumar, aping his style and how the character goes through an identity crisis as a vocalist.
“Thankfully, cinema has changed to the direction where even today, people come to watch me… but now, for my performance as an artiste. The substance of my role and the story speak volumes to new-age cinegoers,” added Prosenjit, who also gives credit to the iconic filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh.
Prosenjit and Ghosh did some of the celebrated Bengali films together like “Unishe April”, “Utsab”, “Chokher Bali”, “Dosar” and “Khela”.
Prosenjit won the National Film Award – Special Jury Award/Special Mention (Feature Film) for “Dosar”.
Does he miss Ghosh?
“He discovered the artiste in me. When I worked with Ritu for the first time in ‘Unishe April’, though it was a small role, I got appreciation. Since then, gradually with each film, I have grown as an actor.
“Ritu presented the actor Prosenjit to the world. Afterwards, whichever National Award-winning film directors I worked with — be it Gautam Ghosh, Srijit Mukherji, Dibakar Banerjee — they all celebrated the actor Prosenjit over the star.
“So I cannot really express how deeply saddened I was when Ritu passed away. The film industry missed the most contemporary film director of this era. For me, I lost one of the most incredible human beings I have ever known,” Prosenjit added.