Saheb Chatterjee talks about Bengali Film Laboratory

Jodi Ek Din Saheb Chatterjee
Jodi Ek Din Saheb Chatterjee

December 1, 2010 (Calcutta Tube): Shaheb Chatterjee is the most handsome man in Bengali cinema. He has a God-gifted voice on exclusive contract to Saregama HMV that has brought out two Audio discs of his Tagore songs.  His latest film, Raja Sen’s Laboratory finds him in the rather complex role of the young scientist Rebati. His performance is outstanding.

Was Laboratory the first Tagore novel you acted in?

No, not really. I have enacted Tagore characters in telefilms, on stage plays and even in an under-production film now. In fact, I have actually enacted the character of Rebati on stage. At the same time, Laboratory is the first feature film based on a Tagore work that I acted in.

How is it different to enact a Tagore character from other characters?

Bringing a Tagore character alive on stage, on television or on the big screen is an experience in itself. One feels nervous as I do because it is too big a social responsibility for any actor. The challenge is also quite big so I feel that this fear is necessary for the pressure needed to bring a character like Rebati alive on screen. Of course, much would depend on the director’s approach and treatment because an actor is after all, just a puppet whose strings are in the hands of the director. I like to share my inputs with the director if he is willing to let me.

This is the first time you have worked under Raja Sen. What is your reaction?

Raja Sen’s direction was for me, a dream-come-true because I loved his film Damu. I was delighted when he called me up and told me that he had a surprise role for me in Laboratory. Raja-da is very flexible. He gave me a lot of freedom to interpret the character the way I liked. I am grateful to him for placing so much trust in me. Raja-da and I share a very good comfort level at work and off it.

How about sharing screen space with a big Bollywood star like Raveena Tandon?

Why just ‘screen space?’ We shared a lot of off-screen space too while working on the film. I found we had a lot to learn from the way she behaved and the way she carried herself off the sets. We developed an excellent rapport and I learnt values like remaining humble, not carrying any starry airs, and so on.

What criteria do you apply when an assignment comes up?

For me, the first thing is the script and my role within that script that must be both significant and occupy reasonably good footage. Then comes the director followed by the money factor.

What films are you working on right now?

Well there is Dulal Lahiri’s Brishtir Chhayachhobi opposite Rituparna Sengupta. I am playing a comic role in Basu Chatterjee’s Kalidas O Chemistry. There is Teen Tanaya based on three poems by Tagore directed by Shukla Mitra. From my first film Baaji to my newest Laboratory, I can confidently say that all my characters have been extremely diverse and therefore, challenging.

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