Interview with Subrat Dutta
Ankan Basu, on behalf of Calcuttatube speaks to actor Subrat Dutta, who has established himself both in Kolkata and Bombay film industries. In this exclusive interview, Subrat speaks of his struggle and success, his expectations and achievements. Unfortunately, we got disconnected close to the end of the interview due to some to some mechanical trouble. This is a summary of the telephonic conversation. To hear Subrat speak, please listen to the audio file. On behalf of CalcuttaTube, we thank the busy actor for his time and cooperation and wish him all the best.
Write up prepared by Shrabanti Basu
Calcutta Tube: Please tell us something about your background. I know that you have attended the National School of Drama . Please share something more about yourself.
Subrat Dutta: I am originally from the Bankura, West Bengal. I did my Bachelors in Zoology Honors. Then I studied Marketing Management for a year. Then I did some theatre workshops in NSD for another three years. After that I got the South College Scholarship. I studied in the Central School in London, and stayed in Paris for a while, though I did not do any theatre there. After some time I came back to Delhi and eventually moved to Bombay. Now I am working both in Bombay and Calcutta.
Calcutta Tube: Do you live in Bombay or in Kolkata?
Subrat Dutta: I am settled in Bombay. Sometimes I do work in Kolkata. But all of trips to Kolkata are sponsored by my producers.
Calcutta Tube: Do you want to work in Bengali films or just focused in Hindi movies?
Subrat Dutta: I am interested in working anywhere as long as they can use my potential correctly and give me the dignity and pay that I deserve for my hard work. Right now I am settled in Bombay and if I need to travel anywhere else I am sponsored for all those expenses. I have worked in lots of Bollywood films like Zameen, Tango Charlie, 88 Antop Hill, Mangal Pandey, Showariya. I have also played the lead role in the movie Madholal Keep Walking, which basically shows the aftermath of the Bombay blast on the lives of the chaul dwellers from a microscopic view. Madholal is a character who has recently moved to Bombay from Bihar. The movie will be realeased in end of February. I have also signed for a film named Shooter in Bombay. Right now, I am not signed up for any Bengali movies. I am avoiding TV serials for the time being and just focused on doing movies. I have also worked in a lot of parallel films and “so-called” art films mostly during my stay in Delhi and some in Bombay.
Calcutta Tube: Do you think it helps if you go to an acting school?
Subrat Dutta: It is not necessary that you have to attend an acting school. But it is prefered to have some sort of experience before you enter the professional world of acting. You don’t really need a formal schooling for 3 years or so, but having some sort of experience like working for a director, or in theatres or having a family background really helps. Amir Khan , for example, has a rich family backgound in cinema. When you are acting you have no idea about your performance. So you need to be under the supervision of an expert who can give you feedbacks. Everybody has his/her own way of acting. The main inspiration to act lies within oneself. Children are often good at reflex action and expressions. But you still cannot call them an actor. Having the urge for acting within yourself is not enough to become a good actor. You have to be guided by a senior to make improvements. You may also photoshoot yourself to see how you are doing.
Calcutta Tube: You have worked in the Bengali movies Doshta Dosh, Chaturanga (with Rituparna Sengupta ).
Subrat Dutta: Yes. I have also worked in Tomar Jonno .
Calcutta Tube: So what would you like to say about the recent movies made in Bengali?
Subrat Dutta: I have worked with Jeet in Jor directed by Swapan Saha . I have also worked in Shopto Sur. Right now, you can call me an actor who is trying to “sell” his potential for acting in all possible roles.
Calcutta Tube: If I am not mistaken, you played a negetive role in “Jor“.
Subrat Dutta: Yes. I did the role of an antagonist. It had a lot of fight scenes. In the context of Bengali cinema, I think we are losing the audience because we lack good stories. There are many different forms of entertainment. This makes it even more important to maintain high quality not only for stories, acting, or direction, but every single section. But there are many inefficient people in the industry. When Swapan Saha directs a film, he makes it for the mass and has to keep the target audience in mind. But there are many people who are not quite good at their respective fields. I often think that this may be due to a smaller market or a limited demand situation that makes the supply to be really low. If you look at the Bombay film industry, the market is much larger. They have had at least 16 – 17 romantic movies released in the last couple of years and there are many more that are going to be released soon.
Recently we have had so many political upheveals in West Bengal, but we never had any movies made on any of those comtemporary political issues. Entertainment or business is definitely associated with the making of a movie, but cinema is more than mere entertainment or business. But there was a time when movies were made keeping those issues in mind. Some of the movies being made are said to be inspired by other movies but they are not compatible with our contemporary social framework. They pathetically lack even the slightest touch of any recent social or political context. When you make a copy of a movie, there are many other details which deserve serious attention. Mother India was also inspired by some other movie. But it was not just a mere copy, a lot of sensibilities were put into the film. I don’t know what is the reason behind such stubbornness these days. It may be due to the smaller market or some other internal forces, I can’t really tell because I just do my part of the job and don’t get to interact much with the internal mechanism.
Calcutta Tube: What kind of roles do you prefer to do?
Subrat Dutta: I have done the main roles in about 35-40 plays and side roles in numerous others plays. When I was in NSD, we used to work 24/7. So I can do any kind of roles. Since I am trying to work in the Bollywood film industry, I would like to work in any roles. However, there are limitations. I cannot be Shah Rukh Khan at this age. But I am versatile. The folks in theatre have always accepted the fact. Now I am gradually being accepted in the film industry. I think I can portray any roles offered. Even my directors appreciated my work and my flexibility to adapt to any characters. I also work in main roles. But I am not a “so-called hero” with six pack abs. I can’t make eight pack abs like Amir Khan has in Gajni. Or probably I can when I am enough rich to do things like that. Amir built eight pack abs at 43. In future I might make Hindi films. I don’t think I will make Bengali films because of the smaller market. I have done the main role in Madholal Keep Walking, which is already complete. I am playing a very young role in ‘Shooter’. I have worked with Priya Gill and Sandip Kulkarni in Bhairavi, based on the life of Ravi Shankar, where I was cast both young and old. The movie was not released, however. I won the best actor award for Bibar . The talented directors in the Bombay film industry like Ketan Mehta, Sidhir Mishra have recognized me as a g ood actor and I believe that they will utilize my talent if they get a suitable role for me.
Calcutta Tube: You have worked with the senior actors in Kolkata like Soumitra Chatterjee, Dipankar Dey. Please tell us about your interaction with them.
Subrat Dutta: I have had some interaction with Dipankar da (Dipankar Dey) when we were outdoor shooting for Jor . I have also worked with him in ‘Swopner Feriwala‘. He told Subrat da (Director Subrat Sen) that he liked my acting. But I haven’t had much interaction with the senior actors that I can really talk about. We usually get to interact more if are shooting outdoors. But most my the shootings were indoors. They don’t really know a lot about me except that I live in Bombay, have studied in NSD and do my roles correctly. In comparision, I have had more interaction with the young generation like Rudro (Rudroneel), Porom (Porom broto), Jishu (Jishu Sengupta ), Biswajit da (Biswajit Chakroborti) – though he is a little bit senior, Ritu, Laal (Director Suman Mukherjee), Neel (Sujan Mukherjee). I have very good relation with all of them and really enjoy chatting with them. Anyway, I live in Bombay, so I am not their competetor. In fact I have done Sudhu Tomaree Jonne for Jishu. Producer Dipak Bajaj is a very good friend of mine. So I worked in 12-13 episodes of Sudhu Tomaree Jonne with Jishu, Protik, Chandreyee, Koninika, Debolina, Arunima and many more.
Calcutta Tube: Please tell us about your struggle to become an actor.
Subrat Dutta: I think you have to struggle to acheive anything in life. You have to work hard in every profession. Even Obama had to stru ggle to become the president of the United States. I don’t really think of struggle that much these days because every human being goes through a lot of struggle in their daily lives. I personally believe that anyone can be successful in life irrespective of their social and economic backgrounds. It really doesn’t matter which section of the society you come from, if you have strong will and determination and follow the correct path to achieve your goals, you will become succesful. Let me quote a dialogue from ‘Om Shanti Om’ which was again ‘adapted’ from Paolo’s ‘Alchemist’ “Agar aap khud chaho to puri kaynat aap ka sath de.” Success does not lie in one’s way. But success can be achieved by anyone with hard work and determination. However, some achieve success faster than others. I think we all have to struggle all through our lives in our own ways. .
Calcutta Tube: Please tell us something about the body fitness – one has to maintain to be in the film industry these days. There was a time when you really did not have to care about physical excercise and things like that, I believe. These days actors are more concious about their builts.
Subrat Dutta: If you look back, you will see that only good looking people had opportunities to enter the cinema industry as heroes and heroines. But recently you see actors like K. K, Erfan, Vinay Pathak, Ranbir Shaurey casting in main roles, which was hard to think about 10 years back. In those days, you had to be real handsome or born to a family with a film background to do a main role in a movie, which I think is the recent trend in Tollygunge film industry, and even in the South. But in Bollywood ordinary looking actors like me get to do a lead role and producers are ready to invest in such films. The market again may be the reason for that. And if you talk about physical fitness senior actors like Soumitra Chatterjee, Amitabh Bachhan, Dharmendra (no matter how much he drinks) excercise regularly. They are still very fit. I think the fitness part was always there, but it is marketed more these days than ever before. Also, with the advancement in technology and media, you get to know more behind the scenes. For the sake of a movie you may need to make six or eight pack abs. The heroes have to be more character based these days. You have to mold yourself according to the character to survive in the industry. A few decades back, heroes like Rajesh Khanna, Amithabh Bachhan, had their distinguished own looks which they hardly changed. Even Mithunda (Mithun Chakroborty) rejected a Mani Ratnam movie because he did not want to shave his head. That was the trend of those days. Interestingly, the same Mithunda made his appearance in ‘Guru’ in grey hair and reestablished himself in Bollywood. Right now, he is working in Chandni Chowk To China. He has a very high demand in Bollywood
Calcutta Tube: Please tell us about your directors. Who do you think are very promising or you would like or work with?
Subrat Dutta: I would like to work with any director who knows his job well. I have come to work with many directors who does not know how to direct a film. I would definitely not work with them again. My first Bengali movie is with director Buddhadeb Dasgupta. My debut Hindi movie is with Pankaj Butalia, who teaches Film Studies. I have definitely learnt a lot from deirctors like them. I have worked with Ketan Mehta, Aamir Khan, Ajay Devgan. I have done three movies with Ajay Devgan – Zameen, Tango Charlie, Sunday, though my role in Sunday was edited. I have worked as a trainer for the newcomers. I don’t have any acting schools, but if someone needs guidance to understand a particular character in a movie, we offer classes for that. It is actually your journey “from a person to that character”, how to deliver you dialogues, get into the attitude of the character, and also coming out of that character. Unlike theatres, you don’t get to practise a lot in movies; everything has to be produced within an hour or so. I still learn a lot when I work with Ketan Mehta or Aamir. I don’t think myself as a trained actor, but as a “student of acting”.