Friday, March 1, 2024

Open to good films but don’t want to be lost in a crowd: Mimi Chakraborty on Bollywood journey

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Actress-parliamentarian Mimi Chakraborty, a premier member of the Bengali film industry, made her Bollywood debut with Nandita Roy-Shiboprosad Mukherjee’s Shastry Virudh Shastry, the Hindi remake of the director duo’s 2017 Bengali movie Posto. In an interview with IBNS-TWF correspondent Souvik Ghosh, Mimi shares her journey from Kolkata to Mumbai, her experience of starring alongside Paresh Rawal and more… 
 
Excerpts of the interview
 
 

Q. You had previously turned down a number of Bollywood projects. Why did you pick Shastry Virudh Shastry for your Hindi debut?

A. For me, it was never about doing a random Bollywood project which comes my way. I don’t jump into any random offers coming from Bollywood. My approach to work is the same irrespective of industries. I don’t want to be lost in a crowd. Moreover, I have worked in the Bengali or the original version of Shastry Virudh Shastry. I knew the script and I had even auditioned for my role in Shastry Virudh Shastry. In a nutshell, I won’t jump into a Bollywood project for the sake of just working on a Hindi film. I will stay away from any project where I have least to work on scriptwise.

 
Q. How tough was it mentally to be auditioned even after featuring in the film’s original version and also being in the field for long?

A. Honestly, I look at work as it is. I do not have any baggage. I will follow if something needs to be done. I understand the makers wanted to see my dialect since I am a Bengali. They are not supposed to know how good my Hindi is. I had to do a huge chunk from the film in the audition. I just feel people like us, who come from the regional industries, go through this struggle unlike many insiders who have a lineage. 

Q. You told us earlier that you were not secured as an actor in the early part of your career to play a mother’s role in Posto. Was it easier this time to play the same role after a gap of a few years?

A. Yes, of course. Posto came really early in my career. When I was offered Posto, people were not as much driven towards content-oriented films as they are now. The taboo over playing roles like a mother does not exist anymore. Actors can now easily play any role as per the demand of the script. Previously, they had to be cautious before playing such roles early in their careers, analysing how that might impact their prospects. It is true a lot of actors had turned down Posto for the same reason but I had liked the script.

As I said earlier, I am now in a secured place as an actor. I am aware it is not possible for me to become an A-lister in Bollywood overnight. I am happy and content in the Bengali film industry with the kind of establishment I have. It’s not that my life will be difficult without Bollywood. I am definitely ready for a good project and role that comes my way in Mumbai. But Bollywood actually has its own run, artists and a huge number of people who are in the queue to make a big splash in the industry. I know people who are still not able to get a break even after struggling for 10 years. I don’t want to be a part of such a rush.

Q. You starred alongside a legend, Soumitra Chattopadhyay, in Posto. How was working with veteran actor Paresh Rawal in Shastry Virudh Shastry?

A. He (Paresh Rawal) is a gem of a person. It was very convenient to work with him. One can have a conversation with him. He is a very fun-loving person. We used to chat over a number of subjects and share various stories. I didn’t hold back from telling him that Baburao (Baburao Ganpatrao Apte, Paresh Rawal’s character in Hera Pheri) is my favourite character that he has played onscreen.

Q. Did your experience of working in hectic schedules in the Bengali film industry made it easier for you in Mumbai where the shooting process is lengthy?


A. 
Yes, yes. I think everyone who goes to Mumbai from Bengal experiences it. I heard it from others as well. We in Kolkata work on a definite schedule and budget contrary to the humongous budget in Mumbai. Maybe the work is the same but the time span of making it is longer. Budget is definitely a factor. There is no doubt working in Bengali films strengthens an actor in that respect. When we go to Mumbai, the workload gets halved.

Q. Did the shooting for Shastry Virudh Shastry remind you of the early days of your career or the struggles in Kolkata since it was a debut in Mumbai?

A. No, not really because I am now established back home. So there was no such possibility. I didn’t face any struggle in Mumbai now because people know me for the kind of work I have already done over the years.

Q. You have already cleared that you would opt for those roles in Mumbai that would justify the kind of love you have received from the Bengali audience. Could you elaborate what kind of roles you are aiming for?

A. I want to feature in all good works. Moreover, it is to be analysed how much I am keen to do the kind of parts which are offered to me. It depends. But apart from that, it’s too early for me to comment. I will have to see what comes in my way and it depends on what I want to do.

Q. Back home, Raktabeej is a success. Your bid to explore diverse roles did pay off finally even after two of your previous films not doing so well. 


A. It’s great when a film works. Of course, I feel bad when something doesn’t resonate with the audience. Everyone had praised my roles and work in two previous films Mini and Khela Jawkhon. A film doesn’t work for a lot of reasons. People had appreciated my works in both the films, where I played diverse characters. Of course, it takes a toll on our minds when a film doesn’t meet the expectations but we as actors need to move on. 
 
When it comes to Raktabeej, I could see a blockbuster written on it. I got to play a wonderful character, which was somewhere in me and I wanted to explore that. It feels great to see Raktabeej turning into a blockbuster and everyone loving the dialogues of Sanjukta Mitra (the police officer’s role played by Mimi in the film). It gives a boost to work harder.

Q. Your Instagram post of skydiving recently became popular. Does it symbolise your current state of mind in terms of your career?

A. I am very grateful for everything that has come to my life. Nothing has come easy in my life. I didn’t have any godfather, father, brother, husband or boyfriend to back me up for anything in the industry, Whatever I did, it was my work, audience and fans to back me up. I am actually very grateful to each and every individual, who went to the theatres and watched my films. I want to be so humble in life that success doesn’t touch me. 

 
I am a very adventurous, fun-loving person who lives in the moment and wants to celebrate life at each and every point of it so that I don’t regret later. Skydiving, which is about celebrating life and a very liberating experience, was always on my bucket list. I am happy that I could do it. I don’t know what else symbolism it carries but it actually symbolises happiness. (laughs).
 
(Images: Mimi Chakraborty’s Team) 
 
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