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- Published 20.06.09
PROSENJIT: Hands-on dad
Have you ever changed Trishanjit’s nappies?
Oh yes, I have done that and also cleaned potty, especially during the first few days after Trishanjit’s birth. I never had problems doing all that because I am very comfortable with kids. And all this gives me a very different kind of pleasure.
Given your busy schedule, how do you bond with your son?
Sadly, I get very little time with my son. Usually, the only time we meet is when Trishanjit goes to school; that’s as early as 6.30am. He is four years old now. By the time I return home from work, he’s in bed. But whatever time I get, I try to be with him. Recently, I had been on my first long family holiday. We went to Phuket and Trishanjit had a great time. I was with him all the time. We took him on safaris and to animal shows, the Fun City and even a ballet! He was very happy to see the colourful shows.
Are you a strict parent?
I am strict but only sometimes. Since I don’t spend a lot of time with him, I try not to be overly strict. So when I say something he pays greater heed to me than to anyone else!... But we don’t pamper him. We don’t stuff him with toys and goodies. It’s something Arpita and I consciously steer clear of.
What’s the most difficult part of being a father?
Being a father is not an additional responsibility. I have my work and I have my family. The only thing that bothers me and Arpita is Trishanjit growing up in Calcutta. We don’t want him to grow up as “Prosenjit’s son”. Already he gets a lot of special attention from outsiders — say, for instance, the security guards in his schools. This is not going to be good for him. So we are thinking what to do about it.
TAPAS PAUL: Daddy cool
What kind of a father are you — indulgent or strict?
I have never been very strict with Sohini. She has always been free to lead her life the way she wants. Of course, I do guide her at times but Sohini is a very mature and understanding child. We discuss everything under the sun except her marriage. Whenever I bring up the topic, she cuts me short saying, “Baba don’t talk about marriage. I am far from it.”
Do rumours about you affect the father-daughter bond?
There have been many rumours and a lot has been written about me but those petty things have never bothered us. We are like friends. We never step into each other’s private spaces. Rumours hardly make any difference to us. Besides, Sohini is a very responsible child and she has never shown any disrespect to me because of rumours. My life has been an open book and I am a very open father. I still have many girlfriends and Sohini is cool about it!
Does she share her secrets with you?
She discusses her friends with me and I think that’s cool. I won’t mind if she has a boyfriend. Sohini is 21 years old. She has done a Bachelor’s in business management and wants to work in films. I respect her career choices. It was her decision to go to Bangalore and study, and it was also her decision to become an actress. I have told her that if she has to have a boyfriend she must choose the right person and not get carried away.
SABYASACHI CHAKRABORTY: More friend than father
What kind of a father are you?
I am more of a friend than a dad. I am very frank with my sons, Gourab and Arjun. I wasn’t able to devote much time to them during their growing-up years. But we have been on various trips together. I have taken my sons to the jungles and those days were a lot of fun! I have done kushti with them, I have played cricket and football.... That’s how our relationship has developed more as friends.
Do you discuss everything under the sun with them?
Well, we discuss everything except family issues. My wife (Mithu) and I try to keep the boys away from family problems. We have a huge family and we never discuss divorce or any serious matter with our sons. Even when we discuss someone in the family, it’s never in front of Gourab and Arjun.
Do the boys share their secrets with you?
Gourab is 22 now. He did his graduation in mass communication from St Xavier’s College and the course needed him to watch a lot of films. One day I asked him if he watched blue films too. He told me he did but did not like it much!... Arjun, my younger son, is very shy. He is 19. I asked him how many girlfriends he has and he blushed! But I guide them so that they don’t take any wrong steps. My wife and I discuss what is wrong and what is right with them.
Has it been tough for the boys to grow up in your limelight?
I am not a conventional Tollywood hero. I lead a low-key life and there are no rumours or gossip about me. They don’t read much about me in the papers. And they like most of my films. They are not severe critics. I ask them if there’s anything that they dislike about my acting but they always praise me! I am very proud of Gourab and Arjun. My sons are good.
JISSHU SENGUPTA: Like daughter, like father
Does being a young father affect one’s film career?
I haven’t ever thought of something like that! If you look at Hollywood or Bollywood, being a parent has never changed an actor’s career. Shah Rukh Khan had his first child after his first film. Same with Hrithik Roshan. I don’t believe in it.
How do you bond with Sara?
Whenever I am home, I am usually fooling around with her. I do puzzles with her and we watch Tom & Jerry almost throughout the day. She loves water, so we go out swimming. We wrestle too and she manages to climb on to my shoulders. But when mummy (Nilanjanaa) is home, Sara doesn’t give me too much attention. People say that I am still a child and that gels well with Sara. She is three-and-a-half years old and I think our wavelengths match!
What do you love most about being a father?
Very difficult to say. When I saw Sara for the first time after she was born, I started crying. The doctors and nurses stared at me but I just couldn’t stop! Being a father is such a wonderful feeling but it’s so hard to express.
What’s the worst part of being a father?
Nothing. Initially I couldn’t relate to Sara but gradually I came to realise that she is my own blood. Then I started doing everything for her, from changing diapers to putting her to sleep to spoon-feeding her. I am a pro at being a father now!
RANJIT MULLICK: Guide and mentor
From father to colleague — how has your relationship with Koel changed?
As a father, I never wanted to impose my views on Koel. And like many other parents, we wanted that our daughter should pursue whatever she wanted to. As a parent, I only warned her about a few things. I told her that she should first ask herself whether she would be able to be an actor or not. Because a lot of money is at stake and you need to know how to handle it. I, of course, had an inkling that she would be able to because Koel had a flair for imitating people right from childhood.
Are you a father or just a colleague to Koel on the sets?
I am both. I work and also keep an eye on whether her work is going right. I certainly give her suggestions but I don’t intervene unless I am asked to. I have made that clear to her. My advice to Koel is that she should be able to analyse her character herself. I help her only when she gets stuck with something.
Do you help Koel pick and choose her films?
Well, sometimes one has to. There are so many offers and she shouldn’t be doing all of them. I tell her when I find the story is not strong enough or if I feel the directorial acumen is not sound.
Have you been a strict or a lenient father?
I was never a strict father. I don’t believe in imposing my views on my daughter. One’s likes and dislikes may or may not match with one’s parents and that’s fine by me. There is a generation gap and one must accept it.... I have pampered Koel a lot because I would see very little of her when she was young as I would always be busy shooting. But all my pampering has been balanced by her mother who would often wield the stick (laughs).
Do rumours about Koel affect the father-daughter relationship?
We try not to give importance to rumours. Often your words are twisted out of context, so my advice to Koel has always been — don’t answer questions you don’t want to. We are an educated, conservative family and we have to conduct ourselves very carefully. Besides, you have all kinds of people — good and bad — in all spheres of life. So it’s best to avoid narrow-minded people.
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