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Father, son & Feluda

Father and son bond over Feluda, cars and jungle — t2 joins Sabyasachi Chakrabarty and Gaurav for an adda at their home

TT Bureau Published 16.12.16, 12:00 AM

An empty lane in Golf Gardens. Unmanned gate of a house. Sunday afternoon. The combination is enough to pique your curiosity. But when you have Feluda and Byomkesh living on the first floor of that four-storeyed building, there is no reason for worry! On popping the question, both Sabyasachi ‘Feluda’ Chakrabarty and son Gaurav ‘Byomkesh’ Chakrabarty burst into laughter. “No one would ever think of breaking in!” they said, before settling down for a t2 chat. Sandip Ray’s Double Feluda (based on Samaddarer Chabi and Golokdham Rahasya) releases today, and father and son will be seen together in a Feluda film for the first time. In Golokdham Rahasya, Gaurav plays Ranajit Bandopadhyay, secretary to Nihar Ranjan Dutta, a scientist specialising in biochemistry. 

Sabyasachida, when did you first read Feluda?
I first read Gangtokey Gondogol in the late 1960s. I was about 13-14. Serious titles with big, difficult words would scare me. A title like Gangtokey Gondogol appealed to me, and I was bowled over. Then I read Feludar Goyendagiri. And I became even more engrossed. I was in Delhi. I would wait every year for the Feluda stories, and that’s how I got involved. 

Gaurav, was your father always your Feluda?
I saw Baksho Rahasya before reading a Feluda book or watching Sonar Kella. Apart from the fact that I am his blind fan, I associate Feluda only with him. Baba is the definitive Feluda for me. I watched Sonar Kella later and it is my all-time favourite Feluda film.

Gaurav, did you take tips from dad when you became Byomkesh Bakshi on the small screen?
Sabyasachi: I just told him to do it the way he would like it to be. 
Gaurav: When I got the offer, I did all kinds of Byomkesh-related research.  I read all the books, and the analysis, everything… however, when I started doing Byomkesh, I found that something was not right. For the first time this was happening to me. 

Were you overthinking?
Gaurav: Yes, absolutely. I was going on thinking if I had got the personality right. Then Baba said the idea of Byomkesh in my head is an idea constructed out of all the previous Byomkeshes I have seen. ‘Don’t do that. You have been chosen to enact the character, so do it your own way,’ he said. And it became easier. 
Sabyasachi: When I started doing Feluda, Babuda (Sandip Ray) had told me, ‘Forget what Soumitra Chatterjee has done. Do it your way.’ 

Sabyasachida, have you ever been approached to play Byomkesh?
Yes, but I said no. I want to remain Feluda. There are many people to do Byomkesh. 

Gaurav: Young actors these days are conscious of their image. But you didn’t think twice about playing a father or an elder brother at the peak of your career. How do you see this?
Sabyasachi: The heroes have always been larger than life. People come to see them on screen. I wanted to be a little different from that image. I wanted my performance to sell the tickets… people should be interested to see my performance, not me. What I am on screen is not me.
Picture: B. Halder

Why do you think Feluda tops Byomkesh?
Sabyasachi: I consider myself to be a youngster. I don’t like reading very serious stories. I like watching The Lion King and The Jungle Book. And children like watching Feluda. Let them watch it. It’s not that I don’t like watching James Bond films, apart from the portions where he is sleeping with different women. That’s not an USP for me. That’s a low SP for me. 
Gaurav: Adult people would like to idolise Bond in the sense that he is the coolest guy, a secret agent, he wins over women… but that’s not his most exciting character trait. The more exciting part is who he is. 
Sabyasachi: In the face of imminent death, he is calm. That’s like Felu. Both have nerves of steel. I envy these traits in a human being. But I get hyper at times…

What or who gets you hyper?
Inefficiency, people who do not have scruples, cheaters, liars, people who harm animals or beat kids, rogue drivers.    

What’s a dinner table conversation like in the Chakrabarty household?
Sabyasachi: It’s all about things not concerning the movies, from travelling, wildlife, cars to aircraft. Arjun (son) is a great mimic.  

What about social media? 
Sabyasachi: I don’t like social media. It is somewhat like one is trying to probe other people’s lives. Facebook is not for me. And why should I comment on everything on Twitter?! It’s interesting to read people writing about lots of things. I would not like to give my opinion. But I like reading them. I read the tweets that appear in t2.  
Gaurav: I use social media for three things — to keep in touch with old friends, to get news and to promote my films or theatre or TV shows. 

When did you start imagining yourself as Feluda?
Sabyasachi: After my teens. By the time I was 18, I was smoking and my cigarette was Charminar. Also, my father (Jagadish Chandra Chakrabarty) was like Feluda... well-educated with presence of mind and detective-giri te shanghatik. 

How did you deal with the comparisons with Soumitra Chatterjee when you started out?
I always said Soumitra Chatterjee is a much better Feluda than I am, because of Soumitra Chatterjee’s inherent Bangaliana. Feluda is very international but he has that Bangaliana. Otherwise why would he have Korapaker Sandesh and Dalmut? He would order a Kabiraji Cutlet, not a chicken sandwich. I was brought up in Delhi, I am more of a Punjabi! But I have tried to become a Bengali. 

What’s the first thing you’d order in a restaurant?
Tea. And chicken sandwich.

Do you eat out?
No… and if I have to go out, then it has to be with family members. Or with friends. 

You are back with Double Feluda after a gap of five years...
It’s in my blood… it’s been 21 years. There’s been a gap but I have not lost touch. On a different note, I don’t feel like working in movies or television or theatre anymore. It’s been more than 32 years now. I don’t feel like doing it anymore. There are 101 ways to earn money. I’ll act only when I feel like it. Don’t force me to act. I like doing Feluda. If Babuda calls me for the next Feluda film, then I’ll do it. Come to think of it, 50 years ago Feluda was 27. Today he should be 77. I am only 60 (laughs). But then superheroes don’t grow old. It’s good for people to think that Feluda is in his 40s… I look 50-plus at least. And Babuda only said that it’s okay for Feluda to look his age. What’s the problem! So I am back. 

Did you miss not being Feluda for those five years?
Sabyasachi: Yes, I did. But I reasoned with myself. Is this what you had expected Feluda to be? I had told Babuda that my physique wasn’t matching Feluda’s. And I am a bit lazy. I don’t want to hit the gym. I can’t run in the morning or pump iron. That’s not my cup of tea. I can do all kinds of household chores. After Royal Bengal Rahasya, I told Babuda all this. But he said I could do two more.... And the age gap between me and Topshe is widening. 
Gaurav: Baba is fitter than most people his age.  

Fanboy’s dream come true! Gaurav took a dualfie with Amitabh Bachchan on the sets of Te3n where Sabyasachi played a kidnapped boy’s grandfather 

Gaurav, do you have disagreements with your father sometimes?
Sabyasachi: Maybe, a couple of times…
Gaurav: I have never argued with my father. The question doesn’t arise because we are too scared of him. And the fear stems out of respect. I have heard people describing us as best friends. But that’s not the case. We are father and son, not back-slapping buddies. There’s a line that you don’t cross. Of course, we enjoy a James Bond movie together. 
Sabyasachi: We drink together. But we don’t smoke together. He refuses to smoke in front of me. 
Gaurav: We love spending time with our father. There’s never a moment of silence at home. 

But how would Sabyasachida react when you first started coming home late, say, from a party?
Sabyasachi: I have told him to take care of his health. But he is never home in the evenings. He is back after 2am. Late-nights are almost regular. 
Gaurav: He tells me to get sufficient sleep, eat at the right time, exercise. And then I can do everything else. 
Sabyasachi: I have seen young people who do late-nights looking old.
Gaurav: The late-nights happened out of necessity, because one has to catch up with friends…
Sabyasachi: Meanwhile, Arjun is back by 9pm. 
Gaurav: If the late-nights happen three-four days in a row, then he says, ‘This is too much.’ Slow down…

Do you take career advice from your father? 
Gaurav: Baba has always said, ‘Take your own decisions, make your own mistakes and learn from them’. He has chosen films based on how much he likes the director. He has never really planned his career. If we need advice, we go to him or Ma (actress Mithu Chakrabarty). 

Sabyasachida, would you like to direct a film someday? 
No. I am not qualified to be a director. The director also has to know how to manage. Not my cup of tea.

Shaheb Bhattacherjee and Sabyasachi Chakrabarty in Double Feluda that releases today

Gaurav: We love cars. When it comes to buying, we like utility cars more than luxury cars. That suits my purpose. I saw a Hummer the other day. 
Sabyasachi: But there’s no need to own it. The Hummer is not going to take me quicker than my Scorpio. 

Sabyasachi: The jungle. Anywhere that has plenty of trees, streams, rocks, sand… anything that is natural.
Gaurav: Jungle for me too. It’s great to enjoy the isolation during vacation. 
Sabyasachi: I want isolation and peace.
Gaurav: I like going to the hills too, Darjeeling being one of my fave places, but given an option it’s the jungle for me.  

Arindam Chatterjee
What’s your message for Feluda at 50? Tell

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