Sabyasachi Chakrabarty in Kalimpong.
Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
Feluda, Amol Som and several other detectives — Sabyasachi Chakrabarty is being swamped with offers to play a sleuth on screen. But nothing is as exciting as Satyajit Ray’s Feluda. On a sunny Kalimpong morning, the actor chatted with t2 over steaming cups of coffee while shooting for Prem Modi’s Arjun.
This December, we will see you as detective Amol Som instead of Feluda...
Amol Som in Arjun is very different from Feluda. The similarities are only in the investigative process. Like Feluda, Amol Som uses his gun at the drop of a hat. He is an acknowledged private investigator. Amol Som is also a little golmeley (confused), he wants to give up everything and go to the Himalayas. So I don’t think people will get a substitute for Feluda but yes, Arjun is a good detective film. And Om as Arjun is very good.
Apparently, a lot of directors want you to play a sleuth in their films?
Yes, I’m getting mostly detective roles and frankly, I like doing them. Not that I’m not getting other offers. But I am saying yes to more detective roles. After Royal Bengal Rahasya released, I got a lot of offers to play a detective. I don’t know why... maybe people thought that since he is not doing Feluda anymore, let’s offer him other detective roles! So, Raja Sen has offered me Goenda Colonel (based on a short story by Syed Mustafa Siraj). It’s on the floors. But I decided not to take it up because bhishon Feluda type hoye jachhilo (it was very similar to Feluda). The colonel is an ex-armyman and Dipakda (Chiranjit) suits the role better than me. I am playing a cop in the film, who is assisting the colonel.
Even when T. Sarkar Productions approached me for Amol Som in Arjun, I had told them to give me another role. But they were insistent and I couldn’t say no. But if Arjun turns into a series, then it will be difficult because then I don’t know how many I can do. Amol Som can be passed off as an aged man. He is 50-plus.
The other film where I am playing a detective is Kanchenjungha Express. I am a detective in the homicide department.... So there’s a spate of detective roles. I am playing a detective in two Hindi films too (laughs)! An ISI agent in one and a RAW agent in another. But I am not supposed to reveal any details now.
Playing which of these detectives are you most excited about?
Well, I am not really excited about any of them. I am keeping my fingers crossed about the success of these films and I know all these directors are very capable, so let’s see. I like playing detective characters because they are a little no-nonsense type. I don’t like lovey-dovey roles (smiles).
But don’t you fear getting typecast?
Typecast toh aami hoini (I didn’t get typecast). I have done various kinds of roles. I am even playing father to the heroes and heroines. I play elder brother and also villain.
You played Dev’s father in Romeo, a masala film...
Oh yes, I love being a part of masala films! Why not? In fact, people still ask me on the streets, ‘Apni Dev-er baba korechhilen na?’ I don’t have any inhibitions about playing a father as my son (Gaurav, first-born) is almost the same age as the new group of heroes.
Romeo is a remake of a southern film. You don’t mind being a part of remakes?
Well, I don’t like working in remakes when the director says that in the southern film the actor had lifted the newspaper with his left hand so you too must lift it with your left hand! Why should that be? This is what I hate about remakes. I hate copy-paste. What happens is the creativity of the director is lost. If we have to do exactly like the southern film, then what’s the point of a director on the sets! The Bangaliana has to be incorporated into the remakes of southern films. That’s why nowadays I say no to remakes. But there are a few directors and producers who are my near and dear ones and I can’t say no on the face, so I do a few. I have done Bawali Unlimited (yet to release), directed by Sujit Mondal, where Rajatava (Dutta) and I play two friends who adopt a girl (Payel Sarkar) together... and the amount of bawali we had, you can’t imagine! Whatever I have not done till now, I have done it in this film! But now I want to slow down a bit.
But you haven’t done too many films...
I have done 110 films already, which includes six Hindi, two English and one Kannada film. I started acting in films in 1991. It’s been 21 years now. I have been doing television from 1985, so add six more years... it’s almost 27-28 years in the industry. I would say, as compared to others, I am a little slow. I haven’t done too many films. Still, I think I’m overloaded. I am not too ambitious. I had read somewhere that the richest man is not one who can spend more or who can earn more; the richest man is one who needs no more. Amar aar ki dorkar? (What more do I need?) I have a house to stay in, a car to drive, a camera to take pictures with and enough money to travel. So the rest of my life should be spent as I would like it. I am happy with the way things have progressed. Now the new generation of actors should take over.
The new generation also includes your sons Gaurav and Arjun who have just started their careers...
Yes, absolutely. We do discuss films together. They want to be good actors. As a father, the tips that I give them are that they should be good human beings and they should respect their elders. Gaurav is from FTII (Pune) and he watches a lot of films. Both the boys are film buffs and they have a huge DVD collection. You name a film, they have it! They have the 100 greatest short films ever made, the 100 greatest animated films, the Tintin series, the Batman series, all the episodes of Star Wars… and so I get to watch a lot of films with them.
If Sandip Ray makes a Feluda film with a young team, who among your two sons should play Feluda?
Look, attitude-wise, my elder son (Gaurav) is best suited for Feluda. But he is only 5’9” and Feluda has to be more than 6’. So I don’t know height-wise if he can match Feluda and then Topshe has to be shorter. Arjun is one of those scruffy, romantic types, you know. The Gora (Arjun’s character from STAR Jalsha’s Gaaner Oparey) image suits him very much. But now he is very much into body building. Gaurav is more inclined to play negative roles. I tell him that his face isn’t scary and he tells me that’s what a modern-day villain is like! They make their own choices. We (wife Mithu and he) don’t decide.
What else have you signed?
I will start shooting for The Camp, a Bangladeshi film. It’s about a cricket coaching camp. Priyanshu Chatterjee plays my son and an ex-cricketer and a coach. I play a Pakistani army Major who had committed war crimes. The film is directed by Afsana Mimi. I had played a Pakistani in Lahore (2008) too. I think I look a lot like Pakistanis!
Sabyasachi as Feluda
On the small screen
• Baksho Rahasya
• Ghurgutiar Ghotona
• Ambar Sen Antardhyan Rahasya
• Sheyal Debota Rahasya
• Gosaipur Sargarom
• Bosepukure Khoon Kharapi
• Joto Kando Kathmandute
On the big screen
• Bombaiyer Bombete
• Tintorettor Jishu
• Kailashe Kelenkari
• Gorosthanay Sabdhan
• Royal Bengal Rahasya
• Apsara Theatre-er Mamla
What kind of characters should Sabyasachi play now? Tell firstname.lastname@example.org