Pictures by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
Digging into a sumptuous lunch at Veda, Challenge 2 (produced by Shree Venkatesh Films, releasing on October 19) co-stars Dev and Puja had a bindaas chat with t2.
Dev, you had told t2 earlier that you’ve been working only with three-four heroines. Are you happy that finally you’ve got a new heroine in Challenge 2?
Dev: Finally, maney?
Dev: I think when Bengalis watch films they have a certain mindset about the hero and the heroine. They want their hero and heroine to have certain qualities in them. I think Puja has all that in her that a Bengali audience demands from a heroine. She has very Bengali features. And there’s a certain Bangaliana about her. Work-wise she is very dedicated, sincere... she is an intelligent girl.
Puja, what’s the best thing about being paired opposite Dev?
Puja: That he is Dev! Dev is different.
Dev: (To Puja) As in?
Puja: As in you are different. In every aspect. See, basically the thing is he is a star and I am working with him for the first time and he made me very comfortable on the first day of the shoot and that’s why I never felt that I am working opposite him for the first time. He is also very down-to-earth and friendly, not only with me but with the technicians too. So that makes the work environment very relaxed and easy.
Dev: Okay, that’s enough!
Puja: Arrey, I am praising you.
Dev, your heroines say you like being praised by co-stars...
Dev: (Smiles) I don’t know, no, no....
Puja: Oh yes, that he does! I also want to add that my Bengali isn’t very good and Dev taught me Bangla!
What! Dev taught you Bangla?!
Dev: What a joke (laughs out loud)!
Puja: Really, though he too is from Mumbai, he can speak Bangla really well. In fact I was quite shocked because he knows such difficult Bangla words!
Dev: Hidden talent, you see! Nobody knows this side of me. Even after 14 films people say my Bangla is bad! Sad that nobody realises my hidden talent!
Dev: (Looks at Puja and can’t stop laughing)
Puja: Why are you laughing? He always corrects me for wrong pronunciation.... Dev is very fun-loving and that’s the best part about him! I am also very fun-loving.
What kind of fun did both of you have during the shoot?
Puja: (Laughs) I knew this would be the next question! Actually Rajada (Chanda, director of Challenge 2) and Dev would always pull my leg on the sets.
Dev: Amader aar kheye deye kaj nei nah (As if we don’t have any other work)?!
Puja: Hello, one minute please! I swear this is how both of them had fun on the sets. And frankly even I liked it, it’s a lot of fun actually because then you don’t really realise the work pressure. On a serious note, Dev has really worked very hard on this film. He has put in his best effort in Challenge 2
Dev: See, I believe that everybody should enjoy on the sets. The bottomline is when an entire unit is working so hard there should be a break where you can laugh. People around me should be happy. I believe that you can give your best in a fun atmosphere. I don’t believe in being serious and walking around the sets as if I’m the star and nobody else matters. I believe that, boss, if I have 10 members in a team all 10 should be happy. It’s always the actor’s responsibility to keep his team happy during the shoot.
Tell us about what you play in Challenge 2...
Puja: I play Puja, a fashion designer and I have never played a fashion designer before.
Dev: (Cheekily) Ask her how many films she has done before!
Puja: (Looks at Dev and folds her hands) Sirji, may I?
Dev: Arrey say nah. Kothay kothay rege jaye (She gets angry so easily)!
Puja: That’s about it. I’m just playing a fashion designer. The film is not about me. It’s about Dev!
Dev: This is the first time I am playing a cop. He has loads of attitude and he believes that criminals belong in the dustbin. I play an angry young man with loads of attitude. He is serious, brooding, speaks less and throws his weight around all the time. It wasn’t easy for me to break free from my loverboy image after Romeo, Khokababu and Paglu 2 and it was difficult because I have never held a gun before and we shot with real guns and 9mm rifles. But I really enjoyed playing Abhiraj Roy. It’s my dream role!
But we also see this serious cop romancing and dancing in the promos...
Dev: Obviously, shob shomoy ki serious thakbe naki?
Puja: No romance (makes a sad face). He is so serious in the film!
Dev: Ami khub seriously romance korechhi in the film!
Puja, if there’s one thing you could change about Dev, what would it be?
Dev: One thing?!
Puja: Oh there are so many!
Was it difficult to create the chemistry since both of you were working with each other for the first time?
Dev: See, my chemistry with every heroine is good because my geography and history is also good! Isn’t it, Puja?
Puja: (Laughs) See, this is a very important film for me and I know that people will compare me with Subhashree (Dev’s real-life “good friend” and co-star in four films). But I don’t think comparing me with her is fair. She is good in her way and I am good in my way. Everyone is different, actually. Maybe I am bad and she is good! I hope people like our chemistry and I get to work with Dev again. It wasn’t difficult to establish the on-screen chemistry. It happened quite smoothly. I felt really special working with him.
Who do you think Dev has the best chemistry with on screen?
Dev: I want to answer this because she will only name someone she doesn’t like me with!
Puja: I think Shrabanti and Dev have best on-screen chemistry.
Dev: And with all the other heroines I have worked with, she thinks they look like my sister!
Okay, which are the heroines you don’t like opposite Dev?
Dev: Yesss, that’s a good question!
Puja: Everyone is good!
Dev: Arrey what is this? Give a proper answer!
Puja: I liked him with Payel too (I Love You).
Dev: See, she is not taking Subhashree’s name. She doesn’t like her!
Puja: I swear I haven’t seen any of your films with Subhashree.
Dev: You’ve seen the songs at least on TV. She doesn’t like Subhashree and me as a pair!
Puja: No, I told you she looks cute in the songs with you.
Dev, have you seen Puja’s debut film Macho Mustanaa?
You’ve seen the songs on TV...
Dev: Yes, I didn’t like them!
Did you like Puja in that film?
Dev: No I didn’t like her at all in the film! And she knows that. But I like her now! We are friends!
Who do you think Dev has the best on-screen chemistry with? Tell firstname.lastname@example.org