January 23, 2011 (Calcutta Tube) Meet Shaheb Bhattacharya. He is Topshe, the chocolate-faced right-hand-boy-cum –cousin of the great detective Feluda, namely Prodosh Mitter, created by wordsmith Satyajit Ray. Topshe hero-worships his cousin and follows him virtually like a shadow. The first Topshe who partnered Soumita Chatterjee was Siddhartha Chatterji who is now a financial analyst in his own right. The next Topshe was Parambrato Chatterjee. When Parambrato grew out of the character, director Sandip Ray’s choice was the young and fresh Shaheb Bhattacharya, son of famous footballer Subrata Bhattacharya who is now a well-known football coach.
Though Topshe has mainly to follow Feluda like a shadow or is left behind with writer Jatayu when Feluda wanders off into a lonely exploration, Shaheb has added a fresh flavour to the image with his peaches-and-cream complexion and youthful look. “I was overjoyed when Sandip Ray called me up to see him and asked me whether I had seen any of the Feluda films. When I said ‘yes’ he said ‘I am thinking of taking you on as the new Feluda. Are you okay with it?’ Of course I agreed at once. There were no two questions about it. And for me, it was an overwhelming experience to act with Sabyasachi Chakraborty, Bibhu Bhattacharya, Haradhan Bandopadhyay who have been around much before I was born,” said Shaheb smiling.
[ReviewAZON asin=”B003Y3X08O” display=”inlinepost”]He admits that his father never came in the way of his choosing films over football for a career. This is one reason that gave him the freedom to choose without any feeling of guilt, unlike normal Bengali families where a son is expected to follow a very regular, academically backed profession like engineering or medicine. Getting into television was the logical way to begin’ Shaheb is not a greenhorn as his looks might suggest. His experience in front of the camera began as anchor of reality shows like Dosh Miniter Khel, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Little Champs and Bandhan, a serial on television. I think it was Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Little Champs that really gave me high visibility on the small screen. “I got the offer from Rina-di (Aparna Sen) to act in her film Iti Mrinalini opposite Konkona Sen. It was difficult because I am not very confident about my command over Bengali considering Rina-di is a perfectionist. But I passed her audition and am now eagerly waiting for the film’s release.
He confesses that the intimate semi-nude scenes he shot with Paoli Dam for Sanghamitra Choudhury’s Ru had made him distinctly comfortable “But Paoli took away my nervousness and helped me reach a comfort level that made things easier for me later on. She is very easy in all kinds of roles and scenes,” he informs. Explaining how he interpreted the character of Topshe, Shaheb says, “Within the framework my director laid out for me, I have tried to deconstruct myself and do it my own way, without trying to copy my predecessors who performed the character before I did. I just had to keep in mind that I did not appear over mature and over-smart and retain the naïveté of the character. Whether I have done a good job or not, is for the audience to decide,” sums up Shaheb.
Shoma A. Chatterji