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Indraneil Sengupta on striking a balance between creativity and commerce

He would rather take a chance than play it safe. So after a clutch of parallel films, Indraneil Sengupta did Doshhomi, a “sensible” commercial film, co-starring Koel Mallick and directed by Suman Maitra. A t2 chat...

Doshhomi is in its second week and you’ve finished shooting a major part of Sweet Heart. Are you tilting towards masala films now?

Well, Doshhomi isn’t a paati commercial film, mind you! It’s a commercially treated sensible film and people have appreciated the subject. Yes, the film that I’m doing with Paoli (Dam), Sweet Heart, that’s a typically commercial film. It has everything — romance, action, sorrow, happiness.... I feel an ideal actor is one who can manage everything. Like an Aamir Khan can do a 3 Idiots, a Lagaan and a Rangeela which is an out-and-out tapori film. He can dance around trees and at the same time do a very intense role, that is the real test for an actor. Being in a comfort zone is not good in life. I am not saying you give up your comfort zone. You keep coming back to it, definitely, it’s your forte, but you also try different genres because then you can do a different kind of acting and you can check whether you’re able to do it or not.

The audience categorises and actors conform to it. I have no need to do that. Bollywood actors are doing different kinds of roles. Ranbir Kapoor is doing a Raajneeti and an Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani and a Barfi!. Why shouldn’t I do it? Why should I conform to a system which believes in stereotyping?

What’s your comfort zone?

See, I can’t tell you what my comfort zone is. I get butterflies in my stomach for every role I play. Everything is difficult for me. But if you still insist on asking me what kind of films I prefer to do, I will say I like doing offbeat films... I like watching offbeat films. I think that range of acting comes naturally to me. In a masala film, I have to consciously follow a certain pattern of acting but in an offbeat film what I do naturally is accepted. But I think if a particular role requires me to give a lot of effort, then I should do that more often. I don’t say that I will quit offbeat films and do only masala movies. I can’t control how a film fares or how my portrayal of a character is taken by the audience. What I can do is give my 100 per cent to every role I get. I do bit roles also. Which actor does bit roles? They find it threatening. I don’t. I am not doing commercial films because I want to become a hero or a star. I am doing justice to the actor in me. If I wanted to play it safe, I would not have played a bisexual (in Aarekti Premer Galpo).

Jisshu Sengupta played Partha, a character with non-mainstream sexuality in Chitrangada. Would you be game to play one again?

See, this kind of a role is very unusual. I would be interested in playing a bisexual or a homosexual again but I feel that there should be a time gap. Jisshu’s role is very interesting in the film. Ritu (Rituparno Ghosh) is my friend. We had spoken about the role and felt that for me this was not the right time.

There’s a buzz in the industry that for Indraneil, acting is just a job. He comes, does a film and goes back to Mumbai...

That is what a job is like. I do treat it as my job. Calcutta is my workplace. I come, work and I go back. I deliver as much as possible. I don’t know if I match up to everybody’s expectations but I try. See, finally it all boils down to whether people like you and your films. That is all that matters. Obviously, it’s a professional place where producers will put in money expecting returns.

You’ve done a dozen films. Where do you see yourself going from here?

I want to maintain a balance between earning money and satisfying myself creatively. So I will continue doing films that will bring me money and also ones that will bring me appreciation, fame, if possible awards, and respect as an actor. I don’t want to be a famous actor who has three awards but no car! At the same time, I don’t want to be in a situation where I have three cars and not a single award! I want to be in a place where I lead a comfortable life and when I retire and grow old, people remember me with respect.