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Dual-role Dev delivers with sword and smile

dev the warrior dev the vote catcher
Dev as Trinamul Congress Lok Sabha candidate from Ghatal at the Karmi Sabha in Aurobindo Stadium in Midnapore town on Tuesday afternoon

Take 1: Dev the warrior. As the swashbuckling Rudra in full battle gear and shoulder-length hair, he slices the air with a sword at Prayag Film City in Chandrakona, West Midnapore.

Take 2: Dev the vote-catcher. In full-sleeve tee, jeans and an uttariyo in Trinamul colours, he charms the audience with a smile at the Karmi Sabha in Aurobindo Stadium, Midnapore town.

All in an afternoon’s work for dual-role Dev.

At noon on Tuesday, the spotlight is on the Prayag Film City in Chandrakona, a four-hour drive from Calcutta but just a few kilometres from Ghatal. A giant Colosseum-like arena with a gallery is ready for action.

Enter Dev, the Trinamul Congress candidate from Ghatal, as Rudra the warrior in armour.

It’s the first day of shoot for Raj Chakraborty’s new film Yoddha, a reincarnation drama. Dev as Rudra wears his hair long, sports a stubble and walks with a swagger. A sword dangles from his waist.

In between shots, Dev munches on oranges and apples. Seeing the army of photographers on set, he quips: “I’ve never got so much attention in seven years!”

The actor’s first move as an aspiring MP is hours and a few kilometres away. “I am here to learn. I know the area, it’s like my home (his ancestral house is in Mahisda village of Keshpur, West Midnapore). I am here to represent GenY. I am here to motivate and inspire them. The young generation has made me who I am today. They are the future. I don’t think about winning. My aim is to motivate the young,” he says.

But why did he agree to be thrown into the battle of the ballot, a far cry from his dance-and-fight routine at the box office? “I respect Didi (Mamata Banerjee) and that’s why I agreed. Let’s all be positive…. If I win, aami manusher pashe thakar cheshta korbo (… I will try and stand by the people),” says the Chander Pahar star.

Rudra’s role done for the day, it’s time for Deepak Adhikari — far better known as Dev — to switch roles and time zones. From Yoddha, set 1,100 years ago, to Lok Sabha 2014. An hour’s drive takes him from the Colosseum at Chandrakona to the Shamiana at Aurobindo Stadium.

The crowd at the Trinamul Karmi Sabha erupts. It’s less a political meeting and more a rock concert. Mukul Roy is there, along with Sandhya Roy (Midnapore) and Uma Soren (Jhargram). They might as well have been invisible.

All eyes are on Paglu, Khokababu… call him what you will. Dev waves, the crowd goes wild. Dev smiles, the crowd goes wild. Dev shakes a few outstretched hands, the crowd goes wild. Every time Mukul Roy utters the word “Dev”, the crowd goes wild. “This Karmi Sabha has turned into a jana sabha,” smiles Roy.

Girls and boys armed with paper and pen call out for autographs. Girls and boys armed with mobile phones go click, click, click.

Dev is all smiles and charm, hand on his heart. “I would like to thank Mamatadi because I am here in front of you all because of her.... I would request each and every one of you to vote. It is up to you, the Yuva Shakti…. I want to learn, I want to do something for you.”

The cheers are deafening.

After the “jana sabha”, superstar Dev and veteran actress Sandhya Roy head for the Circuit House for a meeting with district leaders in Mukul Roy’s presence.

The Challenge is on.

DEV THE GRANDSON

Binapani Das, 76, sister of Dev’s grandfather, who stays in Midnapore town, arrived at Aurobindo Stadium escorted by some relatives. She was all pretty in pink, dress and hat, to catch her grandson’s eye. Spotting her behind the bamboo barricade, Dev jumped off the dais and touched her feet. “Thakuma, bhalo achho to? (Grandmother, are you well?).” The old lady beamed: “Amakey to bhulei gechhish. Aami ashirbad kori tui votey joyee ho (You have forgotten me. I bless you that you win the elections).”

Text: Naresh Jana. Picture: Samir Mondal