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DEV & KOEL

She’s the one who has worked with the most number of leading men in Tollywood. Back from Switzerland, where she danced with Dev in mini skirts and a tank top in freezing temperatures for Rajib Kumar’s Paglu, Koel Mallick tells t2 about her bonding with her male co-stars...

Prosenjit: I have worked with Bumbada (Prosenjit) in two films — Shudhu Tumi and Badshah. My first memory of him is of a huge star as that’s how I have seen him since childhood. On the sets, Bumbada isn’t the star that we think him to be. We were shooting in Hyderabad for Badshah and during lunch break he would ask me to relax in his vanity van while he would sit outside. I also admire him for the way he has maintained himself over the years. I learnt professionalism from him. During the Hyderabad schedule, he would be the first one to wake up and knock on everybody’s door. He never made me feel uncomfortable or nervous.

Mithun Chakraborty: I have done three films with MithundaJuddha, MLA Fatakesto and Minister Fatakesto. Mithunda is a prankster. He still is the 16-year-old boy next-door and he refuses to grow up! I didn’t know him well while shooting for Juddha and so I would keep to myself on the sets. One day I was reading a book on the sets and I found someone pelting stones at me. I looked around but couldn’t see anyone. Then suddenly I spotted Mithunda, with his hands full of stone chips!... He has a fantastic sense of humour. While shooting for MLA Fatakesto he cooked mutton curry and served it to Chumkidi (Debasree Roy) and me. I was touched.

Dev: I remember meeting Dev before our first film Premer Kahini and a few days later I was told that he would be working opposite me. We met again for the rehearsals and I found him to be very talented. Dev is very, very hard-working and very particular about details. He runs to the monitor after every shot to see if it’s all right. We now share a great bond. After Premer Kahini we did four films together — Mon Maane Na, Bolo Na Tumi Amar, Dui Prithibi and Paglu.

Jeet: My first film Nater Guru was with Jeet and I didn’t know him well before that. He had done Saathi before Nater Guru, which was a superhit and Jeet was every girl’s hearththrob at that time. So getting a film opposite him was a high for me! I am yet to come across such a dedicated and sincere co-actor. Together we did around nine films. Jeet has helped me grow as an actor. He taught me the angles, the difference between a reference shot and a suggestion shot…. Being a newcomer, I didn’t know the technical details but Jeet was very patient with me. We bonded and became friends when Bandhan happened. After that we did several films. Shubho Drishti, Juddha, Ghatak, Hero….

Jisshu Sengupta

I was in Class XI when Jisshu became a star with the mega serial Mahaprabhu. During a vacation I had gone to the sets of Rabindranather Chhelebela, where Jisshu was working with my father (Ranjit Mallick). He is a very easy-going guy and we soon became friends. We would often play cards on the sets and he would cheat a lot! Much later, we worked in Love and our chemistry clicked. Bor Ashbe Ekhuni was our second outing together and we had as much fun. After that, we worked together in Neel Akashe Chandni.

Hiran: Hiran and I were paired together for his first film Nabab Nandini and so I am like a teacher to him! I have seen him grow from Nabab Nandini to Brakefail to Mon Je Kore Uru Uru.

Soham: I did Tarun Majumdar’s Chander Bari with Soham but I’ve known him since childhood. He has acted with my father in many films as a child artiste and as a kid I used to be extremely jealous of him because my father would cuddle and love him a lot. But, of course, things were different when I grew up. We became friends. As a child, though, he was my biggest enemy!

Abir Chatterjee: We’ve done only one film together — Prem By Chance — and it was great fun. On the sets, Abir would always joke, ‘I am Bomkesh. I know everything!’ I look forward to working with him again.

Dev tells t2 how he has tried to be different from his other lover-boy characters in the May release Paglu.

Paglu is your twelfth film. How different is your role here from the other 11 films?

Basically, it’s a love story and all love stories are the same. How the director treats the story is what makes it different. In Paglu, I play Dev, who is an orphan and lives in a bustee. He goes to college and falls in love with Rimi (Koel), who studies in another college. For Dev it’s love at first sight but not so for Rimi. She is a no-nonsense girl from a rich family in America. Her father is a politician there. Yet Dev is head over heels in love and tries to convince her till one day she leaves for America. Her father (Rajatava Dutta) tells Dev to stay away from her but he swears that he would marry his daughter some day.

Sounds familiar. Wasn’t there a similar chain of events in Challenge?

Yes, you can say that it has some resemblance with Challenge. But only the father-lover face-off, the rest is different.... I learnt Nunchaku martial art for the film. This form needs you to fight with two sticks tied with a chain. I had hired two experts from Dunlop who taught me Nunchaku. There are two fight sequences in the film where I do Nunchaku. I have tried to do my best.

Of your 12 films, which character do you identify with the most?

I loved my role in Dui Prithibi — Shibu, the thief. It was different and performance-oriented. I am also emotionally attached to my role in my first film I Love You, where I played lover-boy Rahul. But the closest to me is the one I have in Sujit Mondal’s untitled film opposite Subhashree.

What’s your role there?

I play Jitu, a Casanova. He is wild but he changes for the better in the last 10-20 minutes of the film. I can identify with the changed Jitu. The way he behaves with his mother and his father is very close to what I am in real life.

Do you think things would have better if you had done most of your films with only one heroine and established yourself as a pair?

To be honest, I don’t think so. Being a pair limits you as an actor. After a point you start becoming a bore on screen. Suppose I work with X in all my films, then when I do a film with Y it won’t work because the audience are used to watching you with X. It’s a limitation. Working with various actresses helps you grow and learn more.

Shree Venkatesh Films is launching Mithun Chakraborty’s son, Mahaakshay, soon. Does that make you feel insecure?

Just a few days back I got a call from someone who said, ‘Dev why don’t you do more films? So many theatres are closing down’. See, if this industry has to run then we need more actors and actresses. Bumbada, Jeetda and I alone cannot do the number of films needed to let the industry thrive. Besides, what’s the point of being the number one among three or four? The more the merrier! The level of competition will go up then and we will all push ourselves to do better.

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