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Mithun the gardener

Mithun Chakraborty. Picture by Pabitra Das

A“strictly 10-minute chat” with Mithun Chakraborty stretches for an hour at Shree Narayan Studios in Joka on Thursday afternoon. Over to Mithunda...

Your new hairstyle (braided into a ponytail) is funky...

It’s very painful. Matha jhonjhon kore! It takes 45 minutes to do the hair everyday. I am sporting this look for Dadagiri (Zee Bangla). I wanted to change my look for the show. See, this is the first time I have stepped out of my comfort zone as far as being a judge on TV shows is concerned. Accepting Dadagiri was a very big risk for me.

Why was it a risk?

I think it was a very big show and Sourav Ganguly used to do it very well. The audience loved him. But when I stepped in, I started doing it my way and in my style, so I was worried whether the audience would accept it. I am a very honest guy, I don’t make bones about things, jeta satti, satti, not satti, not satti!

What do you love about judging TV shows?

The kick to introduce new talent, an opportunity that I never got. Nobody gave me a chance while I was struggling. Getting a platform like this is huge. Most come from the villages and they perform in front of stalwarts, 181 countries watch them on TV.... When I was struggling in Bombay, whenever I was invited to a party I would go and dance, nachte khoob bhalo partam toh (I could dance very well). The high point at a party for me was free food and for that I would dance so that people recognised my talent. I would visit the producers and say, sir give me a chance to show you my dancing skills. They would shoo me away. There were no platforms like Dance India Dance (Zee TV) or Dance Bangla Dance (Zee Bangla). I was like an item boy in parties!

Dadagiri is doing well. We are close to the 100th episode. I think I have created two big records — Dance Bangla Dance has made it to the Limca Book of Records with 126 uninterrupted episodes; Dance India Dance has made it to the Guinness Book of World Records.

Are you happy with the way your last film Nobel Chor fared at the box office?

Why? Should I be sad? It had a target audience. The masses won’t see Nobel Chor even if it has Mithun in it. But the film’s target audience loved it and that’s the greatest gift for an actor and a director. I am not worried about box office, that’s the producer’s lookout.

Mithun with co-star Payel in Le Halwa Le

Your next release, Raja Chanda’s Le Halwa Le, is an out-and-out masala film...

Yes, I play a zamindar in the film. In the songs, Mithun Chakraborty is in form. It’s interesting that two masala comedy films are releasing together, Le Halwa Le (April 13) in Bengali and Housefull 2 in Hindi (April 6). I am very whimsical, typical Gemini jake bole. When I am in the mood, I keep doing similar kinds of roles and films. I did Shukno Lanka, Ek Nadir Galpo (not yet released) and Nobel Chor at one go. I did not have a single commercial release. Le Halwa Le and Housefull 2 are for my fans whom I have deprived for long. The real Mithun will again be back for them... Dada jeta korto, kore, aar korbe (masala film). It’s they who made me Dada, shei roopey ashchhi ektu ananda dite. I hope they enjoy themselves.

What do you play in Housefull 2?

I play a super rich man who lives in London but there’s a backstory which is strange and I don’t want to reveal it now. But it’s very funny, very, very funny (laughs).

We’ve heard that whenever you are in Calcutta you buy seeds and saplings...

Yes, I am picking up a variety of plants this time too, worth about Rs 20,000. I buy exotic flowers and fruits like jamrul (Bell fruit), pumpkin, bitter gourd, various types of chillies…. I buy them from here because I believe the seeds here have something special! You will find lots of trees in my bungalow in Bombay (Madh Island). One part is completely white, with white flowers... another side has purple and red flowers. Thank God I purchased the 1.5-acre land in those days in Bombay. That’s the only wise thing I did. I love gardening, it’s my passion. This is all I do when I am home... gardening and spending time with my four-legged friends (he has 66 dogs!), my birds and my children.... They are my world. I enjoy each and every moment of my life. I am another man when I see flowers blooming in my garden, when my birds lay eggs....

Is there a special dish you try when you are in Calcutta?

Yes. I dig into biulir dal, posto, begun bhaja, alu bhaja, ilish machher tel diye bhaat. I love fish. I get Katla from the Andheri market almost everyday when I am in Bombay! I was a foodie but this profession doesn’t allow you to be a foodie. When I shoot in the Bombay studios, Salman (Khan), Kareena (Kapoor) and Akshay (Kumar) drop by for a bite. Their trainers keep a hawk eye on them all the time and they tell me, ‘Dada please don’t tell our trainers!’ (Laughs.)

And you shop for saris for your wife (Yogita Bali) too?

Oh no, no chance for that at all (laughs out loud)! She thinks she looks fatter in a sari! I ask her, ‘Or else you think you are thin?!’ And then we start fighting. So the best thing to do is not buy anything for her.

And for your children?

Yes. My youngest son (Namashi) loves makha sandesh. And my daughter (Dishani) loves rajbhog, so I get that for them. My mother sometimes asks me to take nolen gur for her.

Have you never thought of buying a flat in Calcutta?

Haaaaiin, I have tried many times. But maybe it’s not there in my destiny, you know. A flat won’t suit me. I will be a nuisance to society.

Why?

Because everyday I have at least 100 people coming to me with their problems. Then I have a few friends who come over pretty often. I try and help people. Earlier I used to do a lot of films and I had a steady source of income and I did help people a lot. I still do it but not as much. So I need a place that’s secluded. But today to buy a plot of land in proper Calcutta and build a bungalow is impossible for me. I don’t have so much money! You need huge money now.... Besides, I don’t want to live in the heart of the city. I want a place far away where I can have lots of trees. I am still trying for a piece of land here. But whenever I have tried, something or the other has gone wrong.

You also have an interest in astrology...

I have learnt astrology and I have read a lot of books. I believe stars play with human lives, otherwise a boy from a blind lane of north Calcutta couldn’t have become world famous. I spend most of my money buying books on astrology and I am yet to learn a lot.

Do you visit your old home in north Calcutta’s Jorabagan?

The house isn’t there anymore. It was a rented flat. My friends from Jorabagan are still in touch with me, they come to meet me often. I have been to Jorabagan a number of times, very early in the morning and had tea from Pandit-er roadside stall.... If you see my career graph, I have never been away from Bengal. I love Bengal and I come back again and again. I have never been out of touch with Calcutta. Even when I am in Bombay I watch the Bengali news channels.

Any more films you have signed?

Srijit (Mukherji) wants to narrate a story to me, let’s see. I might do Goutam Ghose’s next. In Bombay I am doing Bhaiyyaji Superhit with Sunny Deol, directed by Neeraj Pathak.


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