Picture: Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
‘S orry for being late,” says Arjun Chakrabarty apologetically, barely five minutes late for a chat with t2 at Shree Venkatesh Films’s Lake Gardens office. Unlike Bapi, the rich brat in Bapi Bari Ja, Arjun is the sweet boy next door. Let’s hear it from the die-hard fan of “Baba” Sabyasachi Chakrabarty!
You finished shooting for Bapi Bari Ja (directed by Sudeshna Roy-Abhijit Guha) last November and it was supposed to release in September. Was the wait frustrating?
Yes, it was quite frustrating. I had to wait about eight months for the film to release, quite disheartening… I didn’t do much. I was hoping the film would release right after IPL. I spent time at home with my friends fielding questions about Bapi Bari Ja and why is it not releasing, when will it release, what happened to your film.... I was tired of saying I don’t exactly know... I started earning very early. I was 20 when I did Gaaner Opaare (STAR Jalsha), so it was a little difficult.
Were you under contract with the producers — Prosenjit’s Ideas and Shree Venkatesh Films?
Yes, I was under contract, but it was more from a “personal platform” than paperwork because Bumbamamu (Prosenjit) wouldn’t get me arrested if I did something else! But then he advised me to take some time off. I think he was right. Now, of course, I have started shooting for a film — Aaschhe Bochhor Abar Hobe, directed by Sushanto Das. It’s a love story.
You started acting so young, were you always sure you wanted to become an actor?
Well, Gaaner Opaare got good reviews and I sensed the appreciation and the support. I thought it wouldn’t be bad to take up acting as a career option. Honestly, before Gaaner Opaare I didn’t consider the options which is why I keep saying that I was as confused as Bapi until my second year in college (St Xavier’s)! I didn’t know what to do. Dada (Gaurav Chakrabarty) went to FTII, Pune. He was doing a certificate course in video editing. I didn’t want to do that and then luckily Gaaner Opaare happened and now Bapi Bari Ja. I will always be thankful to Bumbamamu because he launched me.
Gora from Gaaner Opaare or Bapi from Bapi Bari Ja — who is Arjun closer to?
I don’t identify with Gora at all because Gora came from a very poor background, he didn’t have a father, had to support his mother. He enjoyed music but he also had to constantly think about earning and providing for his little home. Bapi is a spoilt brat. His family owns a jewellery chain. He’s never had to think about what he should do after college. He has his own car, a PlayStation, friends…. And when he sees his friends moving on with their lives he realises that he too must do something. But what is that ‘something’ comes to him very late in life. He falls in and out of love. He doesn’t know what love is and not having a girlfriend is his biggest crisis! Well, neither Gora nor Bapi are similar to Arjun Chakrabarty. I was never too spoilt and I wasn’t ever really in need of money. So Gora and Bapi are extremes for me. Bapi not so much because I also like to drive and I like playing videogames. So, maybe Bapi is closer.
Getting a break must have been easy for you because of your father?
Definitely. I can never deny the fact that it was easy for me because of who my parents (Sabyasachi and Mithu Chakrabarty) are and because Bumbamamu knew me and Dada ever since we were probably five or six. Thankfully, I never had to go knocking on doors.
Do your friends treat you normally?
(Laughs) Well they tease me at times and call me ‘amader nakshatra’! That’s very awkward. But no one treats me differently. They keep saying they are proud. They are more my father’s fan!
Since all four in your family are actors, do you discuss films most of the time?
All five actually. My grandmother (Monika Chakrabarty) was a theatre actress for 65 years. With Baba we discuss Batman, Transformer, Hummer, bikes and canons. At times I go home and tell my father ‘Baba erom ekta scene chhilo, this is what I had to emote and this is how I did it, is that enough’? So Baba says, ‘Absolutely fine. Do what you think is right.’ He tells us, ‘You have to believe in the character and try and feel the character. The only thing necessary to be an actor is common sense and basic education.’ And Dada and I try to follow that. Ma and Baba don’t really give us tips. They only give us advice but the final decision rests on us. They don’t interfere with our decisions.
When we watch Baba’s films we are in awe of him. In Angshumaner Chhobi Baba played the role of a man who’s slowly going blind. Baba is so versatile, maney from Feluda to so many other different types of characters like Potai Chor in Damu to Ashwini in Cholo Potol Tuli (stage).... Eto versatility aami khoob kom dekhechhi. If there’s an ultimate guru in acting then that’s Baba. There’s so much to learn from him. He doesn’t hold classes for us everyday but if we have any questions they never go unanswered.
What kind of ideas do you exchange with your brother?
I praise him and he praises me! (Laughs) That’s the long and short of it. I think he is a far better actor. After Baba if there’s one person I admire, it’s my brother and, of course, Amitabh Bachchan, Bumbamamu and I also really like Jeetda! (Laughs) I like his personality and screen presence. I am a big fan of Jeetda. When I saw him running in the promos of Hemlock Society it really floored me. That’s how a mainstream hero should run, which is why I like films like Singham and Dabangg. The hero walking in slow motion with sunglasses... that’s my idea of a hero!
Would you be game for an out-and-out masala film?
I would love to bash up a bad guy and walk in slow motion while a tanker explodes in the background!
Apparently you have a huge DVD collection at home...
Well, most of the DVDs belong to Dada and Baba. My DVDs are all PC games like Call of Duty, Assasin’s Creed... I play videogames all the time.
Are you also an adventure freak like your father?
Definitely. I love to drive. We have gone to Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra by road. But I was too young then. I have been driving Baba’s SUV for a few years now. I intend to buy an SUV or maybe a Honda Civic someday.