Together they have gone through the ups and downs of life, not just in films but in real life too. But actor-turned-MPs Tapas Pal and Satabdi Roy remain as thick as ever. t2 caught up with the duo at the music release of Satabdi’s Om Shanti, which releases today.
You have been cast opposite each other in many films. Which are your favourite?
Satabdi: Yes, lots of very good films and lots of good memories. What gives me great delight is the fact that people still remember us in those films... they relate to the characters and they tell us fondly about films like Antaranga (1988), Apon Amar Apon (1990), Mangal Deep (1989)....
Tapas: I have acted in over 450 films, of which we’ve done 175 films as a pair. The one that is etched in memory is Gurudakshina (1971)... even today wherever I go when I sing songs from Gurudakshina, people say bah bah!
What’s the secret of your rock-solid friendship?
Satabdi: I am thankful to God that we’ve never fought with each other, something that’s very natural between friends in the same profession (laughs).
Tapas: True. And as the saying goes... purono chaal bhaate bare!
Satabdi: We’ve never had ego clashes. I never felt that I was a bigger star than Tapas and that’s why we’ve continued to be friends, and I wish and hope our friendship lasts a lifetime! We never did filmi politics against each other. We didn’t try hard to keep the relationship growing. It followed its own pace.
Also, we are in politics together, though Tapas came in much before me.... But our party (Trinamul Congress) is the same. Obviously when I am in the Parliament I seek his advice, though the other MPs are also helpful... but because I am closer to Tapas and we have been friends for a long time. I have learnt little things from him, like when in the Parliament you cannot clap your hands, you have to clap on the table!
We are also doing jatra together, on popular demand. For people, Tapas-Satabdi is their aaahhh moment! We always want the best for each other. That’s the secret of our long-lasting friendship.
Tapas: Yes, all these years people have enjoyed us as a couple on screen. Now they see us walk hand-in-hand in the Parliament. Isn’t this a great thing?! (Looks at Satabdi and smiles)
Is it a given that whenever you direct a film, Tapas will act in it?
Satabdi: Yes! He is a very easy-going person, very soft as a human being. I’m comfortable working with him. Besides, he also takes care of other responsibilities on the sets, so I feel relaxed.
Tapas: Why shouldn’t I work in her films? I did a lot of films with Tarun Majumdar too. Satabdi, according to me, is a very good director.
Satabdi: Satyajit Ray worked with Soumitra Chatterjee in so many films.... I think directors cast actors they are comfortable working with.
Tapas, have you ever thought of directing a film?
Tapas: Yes I have thought about it. But right now I am very busy with politics.
Will you cast Satabdi in your directorial debut?
Tapas: 100 per cent!
Satabdi: No, I don’t think I can act in his film. He is very hot-headed and impatient. I’m sure if I act in his film he will yell at me!
Tapas: She is contradicting herself! Just now she said I’m soft! (Both laugh)
Apart from the Tapas-Satabdi pair, which other actor/actress looked best with you on screen?
Satabdi: Tapas has done a lot of films with Debasree (Roy) and Moon Moon (Sen), and I think he looked great with them too.
Tapas: (To Satabdi) Why are you saying this?! You should say Tapas-Satabdi is the best jodi! She has worked with Bumba (Prosenjit) in many films, but I feel her chemistry is the best with me!
Tell us about your upcoming jatra pala — Mon Bolchhe Keu Ashbe...
Satabdi: It’s a musical (produced by Ashirbad Opera) and we have a few dance sequences for the first time in jatra! I play a doctor and Tapas plays a ruffian.... Though both of us are very busy with party work, we do films and jatra because we are very passionate actors. We breathe cinema and we want to entertain the audience in whichever way they want us to.
Tapas: I have always maintained that I am an actor first. I am Tapas Pal because of my profession. Politics isn’t my profession, acting is my bread and butter.
Finally, Mamata Banerjee’s government has completed a year. What are your views as party members?
Satabdi: No comments.
Tapas: Excellent work. Aaro bhalo hobe!