He has been trying to measure his words ever since he went from being actor-director-playwright to education minister. But for the t2 chat, Bratya Basu, who plays Rituparna’s husband in Muktodhara, decided to be “non-diplomatic”...
What is an average day in Bratya Basu’s life like?
Like a convict! (Laughs) Because the kind of freedom I had seems to have disappeared. Unlike before when I would wake up around 9am, I’m now up by 7am, followed by a visit to my constituency every morning. After that I go to office. Then there are meetings in the evening sometimes... and my day ends by 10pm. I can’t visit public places too often.... Despite it, I try to do my theatre work. I’m not being able to direct a film but I somehow make time to act.
What is the best thing about being a minister?
That I get to work with my CM (chief minister Mamata Banerjee). That’s the best thing.
And the worst?
Handling the media and having to be cautious about every word I utter. I need to think too many times before opening my mouth to say something. I’m a very open, khola-mela person. I can’t be too diplomatic, which I need to be a little bit now. I have had to become a lot more restrained. That is something I don’t like. And I can’t stop my car in the middle of the road for an adda with friends.
What else has changed? And what has remained the same?
I eat light and dress in formals, like shirt and trousers, unlike earlier when I would wear more funky clothes like T-shirts and jeans. What has not changed is making time for my friends for adda, my theatre work and reading before going off to sleep. The ministry hasn’t repressed me. It’s an added place of work. Otherwise, I’m still me.
How was it working on Muktodhara? Was it easy juggling shooting and work?
I like to work with Shibu and Nandita. I had done Ichche with them and everyone had liked my performance. I had a lot of faith in them when they came to me with the script. I play an arrogant, aggressive lawyer who doesn’t get along with his wife. There were times when I would shoot in the morning, wash my make-up and rush to Writers’ and then be back on the floors in the evening.... I feel like making a film but I can’t because I don’t have that kind of time, but I’m trying to go on acting so that I can stay in touch with the world of movie-making. I have signed two more films. One is a sci-fi thriller by Nitish Roy called Mahakash Kando. The other is Aniket Chattopadhyay’s Mahapurush, where I have the double role of a thief and a sadhu.
A thief! So no ministerial bar when it comes to choosing roles?
If I like a role, I will do it irrespective of whether I’m a minister or not. People must remember that I’m also an actor, an artiste.
What was your first ever job?
Professor of Bengali literature at City College.
What was the last film you watched?
Agent Vinod, which did not click with me although I like Sriram Raghavan’s work. And Kahaani, which I quite liked.
And last play?
Supari Killer, directed by Biplab Banerjee and written by me.
Who would you call a real theatre legend?
Who do you find the most promising among the new actors?
In films, it’s Ritwick Chakraborty. In theatre, Krishnendu Adhikary from my group Bratyojon.
What song is currently stuck in your head?
Ever since I heard about Rajesh Khanna’s passing away, it’s been Zindagi, kaisi yeh paheli hai.
Are you passionate about sports?
Not cricket, but yes, I love soccer. I would play a lot of football once upon a time and still love watching it, especially the local matches. I’m a hard-core East Bengal supporter. I had gone to South Africa in 2010 for the World Cup final.
If you were granted three wishes, what would those be?
First, I wish I had the chance to meet my mother again who I lost seven years ago. Second, I hope I get a lot more time to pursue my theatre and films. Third, I want to spend the last 20 years of my life away from the cacophony that has taken over our lives.
If someone turned you into a cartoon character, what would you like to be?
One thing we don’t know about you…
I can’t shave or cut my nails on my own. I always need to rush to the salon. Like Rainer Maria Rilke, the Austrian poet!
A question you want to be asked but no one asks?
Why don’t I take revenge? I want people to ask me this, but no one does.
And your answer to that would be…
Still waiting. Because my enemies are my inspiration and as long as they are around, I’ll feel encouraged and inspired to do better work. After all, I am a Mamatabadi.