June 13, 2011 (Calcutta Tube): When can an actor become a miracle? An actor becomes a miracle when his acting takes his audience by surprise with the range of his performance over a span of films distanced from each other as chalk from cheese. Mithun Chakraborty personifies this miracle as he swiftly changes colour like a chameleon from Chinu Nandy in Gaurav Pandey’s Shukno Lanka to Partho Ghosh’s Rehmat Ali to Suman Ghosh’s under-production film Nobel Chor.
Shukno Lanka, one may recall, is already on the Databazaar Media Ventures collection of the best in contemporary Bengali cinema and cinema made in Bengal or by Bengali filmmakers where the language might not necessarily be Bengali. Nobel Chor, directed by Suman Ghosh who is on the board of directors of Databazaar Media Ventures, might also find a place in the DMV library. But that will be only when the film is complete and is placed in the market for distribution and exhibition.
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The common factor that binds Shukno Lanka and Nobel Chor is one man. His name is Mithun Chakraborty. About his approach to a role, he says, “I first look at the framework the director gives me and the script contains. Then I add my own inputs without diverting from the model the director has provided me with. Within that framework, I play around with dialogue, costume, tag-line, make-up and so on. In Shukno Lanka, I played a character I never played before. My name is Chinu Nandy, a marginal man who once nourished great dreams of making it big. With time, he reconciles himself to remain a junior artiste in Bengali films. He has no illusions left, much less – dreams. But his life changes when an internationally renowned Bengali director approaches him and asks him to play the lead in a film.”
And what about Bhanu, the poor farmer of Bolpur he portrays in Nobel Chor? “I have become a bit choosy about my acting assignments. I try to pick only those films that suit my sensibility. But Suman (the director) flew down to Mumbai just to meet me. The name of the film sounded wonderful. I loved the script and agreed to slip into the shoes of Bhanu. The entire film revolves around Bhanu. The film charts Bhanu’s journey to Kolkata for the first time in his life where he tries to sell the Nobel Medal he found in Bolpur. He meets people from all walks of life, crossing barriers of social class, educational levels, and so on. He encounters adventures of which some are hilarious and others are sad and satiric. Suman has really done a very good job of the script,” he elaborates.
He cropped his hair specially for Bhanu, threw a gamchha around his neck, wore very simple clothes just for this ronle, drawing on a real life person he had happened to meet many years ago. He also carries a simple jhola on his shoulder. “We shot some long stints in Bolpur and then came down to Kolkata wandering across Gorky Sadan, Dharamtala, etc. where Suman tries his best to stick to the year when the medal went missing – 2004,” he informs, adding, “one very interesting sequence was shot at Russell Exchange, the old auction house on Russell Street. Bhanu and his Kolkata-based friend Hari (Saswata Chatterjee) had to make their way through stacks of period furniture and knick-knacks at the auction house to meet a shady antique dealer portrayed by filmmaker Koushik Ganguly. Arindam Sil who is the executive producer of the film, has done a wonderful job in keeping things going and managing everything.”
“I am also enjoying my work for the film Hason Raja,” he adds. But isn’t it frustrating when a brilliant film like Samir Chanda’s Ek Nodir Galpo do not get released, a film in which he has played one of the most outstanding roles of his career? “Of course it is very frustrating. But this is a part of the industry which, as an actor, I can do nothing about. That is why after that film did not get a release at all and Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s Kaalpurush got a weak release much after it was ready, made the prospective commercial viability of a film the principal criterion for me to accept an assignment. However, one also has to make concessions for films like Shukno Lanka and Nobel Chor,” he sums up, readying himself to amaze us with one more miracle.
-Shoma A. Chatterji