July 7, 2011 (Calcutta Tube): Harsh Chhaya is one of the most talented actors in Hindi cinema and television though his potential as a versatile actor is yet to be fully tapped. Among his various cameo and character roles in umpteen films, he has stepped into his first ever Bengali film Nobel Chor directed by Suman Ghosh. Incidentally, Ghosh is on the board of Databazaar Media Ventures which means that Nobel Chor will be screened extensively in North America and Canada. Harsh takes time off from his busy shooting schedule for a brief tête-à-tête.
You are married to a Bengali. Has that helped you to learn Bangla?
Yes and no. Yes because we have been married for ten years so I have been able to get at the flavour of the language as she is a very rigid Bengali who does not like to interact in Hindi or English. She read out the script to me, recorded it on tape too so that I could use the recording as a frame of reference to find out every now and then if I had got my cadences right or wrong. No, because I still know little more than a smattering of Bangla.
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[ReviewAZON asin=”B002SRQLLU” display=”inlinepost”]So, what made you accept a Bangla film after all this while without knowing the language well enough to deliver your lines confidently?
I was always open to acting in Bengali films. I felt it would be one way of learning the language better. I also was cast in one film earlier which was later shelved. There are three reasons that made me say ‘yes’ to this film and this role. One, I had seen Suman’s earlier films and was fascinated with the fact that he had won the National Award for his very first directorial film Podokkhep. That ensured me about his credentials as a filmmaker of promise. The second reason is Mithun Chakraborty and the opportunity this film would give me to share screen space with him. The third reason is because every actor wishes to test the waters in a film in a different language than the ones he is used to acting in.
What character have you done in the film?
I play Raj, belonging to a wealthy, up-market and snobbish business family of Kolkata. Rupa Ganguly plays my wife in the film. Our part begins when Bhanu, (Mithun Chakraborty) comes to Kolkata to see what he can do with the medal not knowing its true value. The story takes a different turn with Raj’s entry in the film because his approach towards the missing medal is negative. He accuses the government of celebrating Tagore’s birth anniversary with great hoopla and yet, failing to take care of the Nobel Medal.
Are you very happy with the shape your career has taken?
No ambitious actor can be happy at any point of time because there is always a lot of mileage to be covered. But not being flooded with offers is also my fault because I am a bit picky and choosy when I cannot quite afford to be at least on television. Once in a while, a good serial like Supercop Surya comes along and redeems your confidence in yourself and in the medium. I played the title role of a blind cop who has been thrown out of police service but helps the youngsters solve their cases through ‘remote control’. But it is no longer on air I do not know why. Ladies Special, another very good serial I played an extremely negative role of a wife-battering husband who is a MCP was also pulled off even when we felt it was doing quite well. The audience taste is all for the crying, simpering and cloying saas-bahu serials and one has to accept it with grace. One of the most challenging roles I truly enjoyed doing was that of the gay designer in Madhur Bhandarkar’s Fashion. It was a role I practically talked Madhur into and it worked!
– Shoma A. Chatterji