Age is catching up with Feluda, and fast. With the clock ticking away, Sabyasachi Chakraborty is in a rush to play the super sleuth. On the eve of the release of Tintorettor Jishu, Sabyasachi traces his decade-long Feluda journey for t2....
You have played Feluda for over a decade now...
Yes, I have done 10 Feluda films for television and three for the big screen. So, Tintorettor Jishu is my 13th Feluda film. My lucky 13th! We have done Baksha Rahasya, Gosaipur Sargaram, Sheyaldebata Rahasya, Bosepukure Khunkharapi, Ambar Sen Antardhan Rahasya, Doctor Munshir Diary and Joto Kando Kathmandute, among others, for TV.
Now, I am looking forward to Joto Kando Kathmandute on the big screen. I find the subject very intriguing. Theres Maganlal Meghraj (the villain), drug peddling, fight sequences and, of course, Kathmandu. I also want to do Gorosthane Sabdhane before its too late....
I mean Feluda shouldnt look like Felukaku or Felujethu. There are some grey strands in my hair. I had to dye them for Tintorettor Jishu because it was showing in the close-ups. I am taking care to stay physically fit for two more Feludas as I wont go in for a facelift (laughs)!
How did you bag your first Feluda role?
It was for Baksha Rahasya. I had been strongly recommended by photographer Hirak Sen. Besides, Mashima (Bijoya Ray) played a crucial role. Sandip Ray had called me for a final make-up test and I remember Bijoya Ray observing me minutely. A few minutes later, she said: Bhaloito lagchhe. That did it for me.
What does being Feluda mean to you?
Its the only role I have ever wanted to play. It has been my dream role ever since I saw Soumitra Chatterjee in Sonar Kella, though I wasnt an actor then. When I became an actor I was desperate to play Feluda, and so one day I landed up at Satyajit Rays door.
This was in the late Eighties, just before Ray made Agantuk. I asked Ray if he would cast me as Feluda. He said no. I asked why. He replied: Santosh (Dutta) nei, aar Lalmohan chhara Felu Mittir hobe na. I suggested that he try Rabi Ghosh and he said; Na na, Rabir dara hobe na. Later, of course, Sandip Ray did Baksha Rahasya with Rabi Ghosh as Lalmohan and he was very good.
Feluda has given me a tremendous fan following, something that an actor otherwise only gets after doing a number of films. I have got numerous awards and nominations for awards because of Feluda. I have got the opportunity to work with a director like Sandip Ray and his wonderful unit. I feel so much at home with them.
Is there a flipside to being typecast as Feluda?
No, not really. I do all kinds of roles and I consciously try not to behave like Feluda in my other films.
What does behaving like Feluda mean?
I try and follow the director, the way he talks... Sandip Rays way of talking is a lot like Satyajit Ray and I believe Ray had modelled Feluda on himself. So, I try to imbibe a bit of Ray in my portrayal but I dont copy him....
I do become a bit self-conscious and as a result I tend to become sombre during my performance. So now I am trying to soften my Feluda or else people get scared with my grave look because I am not as good-looking as Soumitrada (laughs).
My Feluda now has to be slightly happy and cheerful. I know that my serious expressions have a blood-curdling effect on people, so that has to be very measured.
Anything that you dislike about Feluda?
No, thats not possible. Everyone wants to be like him. People may tire of me but not of Feluda.... Feluda is not James Bond. He is more Sherlock Holmes with a touch of aggression.
Feluda is a kind of superhuman.... So sharp, so smart, so well-read. Thats not possible in reality.... But I have lot of similarities with Feluda. Feluda is 6 ft 2, I am 6 ft 1. Feluda has a 42-inch chest, I am close to that. Feluda plays cricket, I used to play cricket too (though he was a spin bowler and I was a medium pacer). Feluda loves to hum Rabindrasangeet, I love that too (though he is more in tune than I am). We both love kadapaak sandesh, good tea and mishti paan without khaer (laughs).
Which Feluda story do you love reading the most?
I cant pick one. My favourites are Baksha Rahasya, Joi Baba Felunath, Joto Kando Kathmandute, Gorosthane Sabdhan and Hatyapuri.
Between you and Soumitra Chatterjee, who do you think is the better Feluda?
I think Soumitrada is the best Feluda ever. I am probably No. 2.