Joy Sengupta on his place in the scheme of things

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By Kushali Nag Why do you like Joy? Tell Picture by Rashbehari Das  
  • Published 28.02.12
‘People don’t recognise the lighter and the naughty side of me, which is quite a pity. But because my first film was such a serious film (Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa) with Govind Nihalani, I got labelled as a serious actor’
Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya

In town to play a documentary filmmaker in Goutam Sen’s Jungle Mahal— Amader Katha, Joy Sengupta told t2 why he is more than satisfied with the way his career has shaped up.

What do you look for when you say yes to a Bengali film?

The reason why I like doing Bengali films is that they are content-driven. There’s a certain kind of strength of characterisation. Now these are very interesting ingredients for an actor, you know, who constantly struggles to get characters which are well-rounded and multi-dimensional and scripts that have a solid base... so that’s the first thing that attracts me to Bengali cinema. In my last Bengali film Tabe Tai Hok (opposite Swastika Mukherjee), I found the approach to the good ol’ love triangle quite interesting. It’s not just about love, there’s an element of lust too.

Most of your Bengali films are with new directors. How has the experience been?

I am satisfied with all the directors I have worked with. I have chosen films sporadically. I have worked in only six-seven films before Jungle Mahal. Patalghar (directed by Abhijit Chaudhuri), Goutam Halder’s Bhalo Theko, Anjan Das’s Jara Bristite Bhijechhilo, Chaturanga with Sumanda (Mukhopadhyay) and Kagojer Bou (Bappaditya Bandopadhyay). I’m pretty happy with the directors I have worked with so far.

Do you keep track of what’s happening in Bengali cinema?

Very much. My Calcutta connection goes back a long way. I was born in Calcutta, brought up in Delhi and then I went to Bombay. Because I come here quite often, I am very clued into what’s happening in Calcutta. But because I don’t stay here, I have a certain objectivity. I am not a sentimental Bengali. I can look at what is right and criticise what is wrong.

What kind of offers do you get from Tollywood?

Serious films! People don’t recognise the lighter and the naughty side of me, which is quite a pity. But I have just shot for a light film called Path Ghat, directed by Partha Ganguly. I have never been averse to doing massy potboilers. As an actor, I want to be a part of different kinds of cinema, both popular and niche. But because my first film was such a serious film (Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa) with Govind Nihalani, I got labelled as a serious actor.

Besides, commercial Hindi and Bengali movies are so star-based and all the other characters are neglected. I don’t really look at it as my bad luck. I think everybody has a space to fill. There’s a space which Prosenjit and Dev fill. There’s a space which actors like us fill. That is the charm of creativity, isn’t it?

Do you have friends in Calcutta?

Yes. But I like doing silly things in Calcutta, like going to Nandan, having lebu cha, watching a play…. I like my me-time in Calcutta.

Are you happy with the way your career has shaped up?

I think I am more than happy. I come from a middle-class family and my parents expected me to take up some other profession. They thought theatre would only be my hobby. But I had told myself that even if I am able to earn minimum money, which a simple officer or a clerk earns, I am going to stick to what I believe in. I think I have more than sustained myself. I have got my share of recognition. I have performed globally. I have got a few awards, a little bit of acceptance among the critics and a fair amount of love from the audience. And I made my parents quite proud. I don’t think I had asked for so much.

Has theatre been more satisfying than films?

Yes, of course! I am basically a theatre person and theatre gives me enough opportunities to explore life and characters which TV or cinema hasn’t or can’t, so I am quite satisfied with theatre. With theatre, I know that I can create a Peru or a Chile on stage right in front of the audience. Theatre liberates me from all kinds of pressures that films have. There will be a certain amount of commercial pressure in theatre too, but by and large theatre is liberating, because you can explore truth without any baggage.

What’s next?

I am doing a Bollywood musical for the stage called Taj Express with Vaibhavi Merchant. It will have a world premiere in June.

Family outing:


The premiere of Pritam Sarkar’s directorial debut Flop-E at Priya cinema on Friday saw leading man Sabyasachi Chakrabarty (right) turn up with mother Monika and younger son Arjun.

“It was great being myself on screen and there was the added bonus of sharing screen space with my mother!” said Sabyasachi. Also spotted were Shaheb Chatterjee, Kanchana Moitra, director Pritam and cast member Subrajit Dutta. Pictures by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya






Football fever:

Ridhima and Ritwick Chakraborty shoot for director duo Debasish Sen Sharma and Sumit Dey’s debut film Bicycle Kick at the Bijoygarh College grounds. While Ridhima looked a pretty college girl in a blue salwar kurta, (below) Ritwick did what he is supposed to in the film — be a football coach. “I’m paired opposite newcomer Sourav, who plays a footballer, and I am his inspiration,” said Ridhima. Pictures by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya

To sis with love:

Actress Koneenica Banerjee’s li’ sister Ritwika tied the knot with Arupam Mallick on Friday. “I always wanted my sister to get married first, so that I could deck up and attend the ceremony,” smiled Koneenica at the wedding at a Deshapriya Park address.