Daredevil Dev

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By TT Bureau
  • Published 19.12.13
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Kamaleswar Mukherjee, the director of Chander Pahar, is cooped up inside Prime Focus, a recording studio in Mumbai’s Goregaon East for the CG (computer graphics). Dev is having lunch at his Bandra residence in between shooting for Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury’s Bunohaans, but is constantly on the phone with Kamaleswar. Around three in the afternoon, Dev joins Kamaleswar at a recording studio in Andheri West. Browsing through some of the shots, Dev and Kamaleswar settle down for a chat with t2. From the professional to the personal, the actor-director duo fired questions at each other with t2 joining in...

Dev: So, Kamalda will your wife (Reshmi) file for divorce after the release of Chander Pahar?

Kamal: She might seek a separation!

Dev: Since the time you’ve started shooting, you’ve been living separately almost, nah?

Kamal: Since last December.

Dev: So a year! In this one year you didn’t have a good night’s sleep...

Kamal: There’s so much pressure till the film releases.... I didn’t get sound sleep for a year now!

Dev: Kamalda, what if Chander Pahar sinks at the box office?

Kamal: Will have to pack up and run away from Bengal!

Kamal: Okay Dev, let me ask you a serious question.... How much have you enjoyed doing Chander Pahar as an actor?

Dev: We don’t go to shoot in Africa every day. The kind of clothes, the unit... every day I would wake up and say, today I’ll learn something new. I am not talking about the actor Dev, Dev the person has learnt a lot. I have realised that life is not just about money and materialistic pleasures... things that we run after throughout our lives. To be alive is most important, that’s what I learnt. Because every day was a challenge, every day we fought our phobias. So it’s not important how much money you are living with, how many people love you is more important.

Kamal: Is Chander Pahar your first film where you didn’t have a heroine?

Dev: Second. I didn’t have a heroine in Dui Prithibi too.

Kamal: But the film had heroines (Koel Mallick and Barkha Bisht Sengupta).

Dev: Okay, in that sense Chander Pahar is my first film without a heroine. But you gave me so many heroines.... lions, elephants, snakes!

Kamal: Nice no? I’m sure you were never bored on the sets!

Dev: No, no, I really enjoyed. My concentration level went up (laughs)! I think the one who was bored the most was you because apparently you are going around telling people that in your next film you will have four heroines!?

Kamaleswar and Dev at a Mumbai studio during the t2 chat

t2: And will Dev romance all the four heroines?

Kamal: Yes, yes, he will be there too.

Dev: Oh!

Kamal: In South Africa, Dev had to wake up early for his make-up and he hated it. It was cold. Will you tell us about your experience?

Dev: (Laughs) The only good thing about those mornings was the mountain behind my room, which looked fresh and beautiful! For me the three-hour make-up while shooting in Kalahari was very difficult. I would always pick a fight with Somnath (make-up artiste). I would get very irritated because I had to wear a beard and a moustache and my mouth would be sealed and I could barely talk.

Kamal: And you had to be in that look every day for over a week.

Dev: Actually my irritation helped because that’s what Shankar was supposed to look like... he’s crossing the Kalahari desert all by himself. My most difficult portions were in Kalahari. I would always tell Somnath that I would never do a dariwala film again!

Kamal: Do you think Chander Pahar will bridge the urban-rural divide?

Dev: I think so. Chander Pahar is the only film which has the potential. The story is very easy to understand. Confusion arises when people watch a film but don’t understand it. Chander Pahar, everyone will understand. The hero of the film is the book itself. But Kamalda, let me remind you that you have taken a huge risk because if this film doesn’t work then we both have to live with a black spot on our careers.

Dev’s bearded look

t2: Dev, did you like your look in Chander Pahar?

Dev: When I met Kamalda for the film, I saw him sitting with five-six sketches of Shankar in a file. I had read the book before and there are sketches of Shankar in half pants! The first thing I wanted to tell Kamalda was that I was not going to wear half pants (laughs). I would look like the havildars of Bombay! But my speculations were put to rest because in all his storyboards Shankar wore proper trousers.

Kamal: I must mention that in our entire shoot we never had more than three takes per shot. And that too happened because of the erratic behaviour of the animals.

Dev: I am used to very few takes. Even in the masala films I never gave more than three takes for a particular shot. See, every actor has his style but what happens in a commercial film is that more than acting, the framing is important, the style is more important... larger than life. While shooting for Chander Pahar, I felt wow, I am doing something different and I should surrender myself…. Anyway, let me again come back to my first question, this man (points at Kamaleswar) hasn’t spoken properly to his wife after he started shooting Chander Pahar. (Kamal laughs) See, even I have a family. I have had relationships and if I missed even one call from my girlfriend, she would call me 50 times to ask, ‘Where are you, what are you doing?’ But I know Kamalda is happy and has huge family support. I did my own preparation just looking at his level of dedication.

Kamal: Yes, Dev would wake up early morning, go for horse riding and then go to the shoot. I was very impressed when Dev decided to not use a body double in the most dangerous scene, where he had to stand on the edge of a mountain with a waterfall beside and a river below. And of course there’s the black mamba shot. He was actually living on the edge while playing Shankar.

Dev: But I was always conscious of the fact that I was the only actor in Chander Pahar and I had to be all right, physically fit because if I fell ill then Kamalda would be left with no options. So despite not feeling well sometimes, I continued. In fact, everyone did.

t2: Wasn’t there ever a director-actor clash while shooting?

Kamal: Clash yes, during the black mamba shoot Dev was hell-bent that we take a composite shot. I wasn’t sure and I kept saying no because if he gets bitten we would be able to do nothing. I knew for a fact that we would lose him. But Dev kept on insisting and we gave in. Thank god, he is alive! (Laughs)

Dev with the black mamba

t2: Were you not scared, Dev?

Dev: I was. But I was in a daze!

Kamal: Basically, Dev did it all so that he could go back to his girlfriends and brag about his bravery! (Laughs)

Dev: I swear! See, apart from my children, Chander Pahar is the film I would like to show all my ex-girlfriends. And I know for a fact that whether they love me or hate me, they can’t ignore the film!