Mission Dev

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By ACTOR TO MP TO CHANGEMAKER — THE MANY TRUTHS ABOUT DEV Kushali Nag What is your message for Dev the actor and Dev the MP? Tell t2@abp.in
  • Published 20.07.14

I have tanned so much! I have become bad-looking!” rued Dev looking into the mirror in his bedroom of Cottage no. 4 at Prayag Film City, Chandrakona. Dev has been parked in this studio, a four-hour drive from Calcutta, for weeks to shoot for Raj Chakraborty’s Joddha. “Not just shooting, I am also doing meetings in Ghatal with party leaders. In between, I flew to Delhi and Mumbai. There’s hardly any me-time....” But he did make time for a two-hour t2 adda.

Shooting in Chandrakona, just a few kilometres away from Ghatal, seems to suit you just fine...

This is the first time I am being able to spend so much time so close to Ghatal which also happens to be the place where I spent my childhood, apart from the fact that it’s my constituency now. Normally we shoot in Hyderabad, but that doesn’t benefit our state. For Joddha we needed 1,500 soldiers. So, a lot of people from the nearby villages were hired. The money that we spend in Hyderabad is being spent in our state.

So was it MP Dev’s idea to park actor Dev close to Ghatal?

It was basically Raj’s idea but then I felt that it’s the best thing to do. We must shoot in our state. Because I am an MP now and my area is nearby, I can go and attend meetings, visit people, talk to them often. Working in our own state with our people definitely gives me a good feeling.

How would you describe your experience in Parliament?

Amazing experience! I never thought I would ever, like ever, get this opportunity. You know, before all this happened, I would go to Delhi, visit these iconic places, take selfies near Parliament, India Gate, The Raj Bhavan.... Never thought that one day I would sit inside Parliament! (Laughs) I went for my registration last month. I was there for half an hour. But man, was I nervous?! I was shivering from tip to toe. I was so nervous because I didn’t know how to behave, what to do. Everything was so new to me.

Did you wear a kurta pyjama?

Na, please! I wore formals. I should represent my age group. I should not be dressed like a typical politician, with due respect. I am representing the younger generation so I should look like them and at the end of the day I am an actor and I should look like one. I took my oath in a full house.... And then within two minutes the house was dismissed!

What tips did chief minister Mamata Banerjee give you about going to Parliament?

Didi told us that you are not alone inside Parliament so before saying anything or doing anything, think, because you are representing a party. You are the face of the party. Before asking any question discuss within the group.

So much happens inside... I hope that there’s some cool and calmness inside Parliament, and things are handled in a dignified way. But then the country is run from there and you are one of them, so it felt great! But I must do some work so that people don’t get the chance to say, ‘Look, Dev has done nothing’. If I talk then I should talk sense. If I work for the people it should be good. Initially, I felt why did I join politics? Then I thought, ‘No boss, people like us are needed in politics’. We should change the image of politicians. Young girls and boys should enter politics. I am not saying I’m here to change a lot. But if I can motivate even four youths that politics isn’t as bad as we make it out to be, then I am successful.

See, I have nothing to gain from all this. If people say that Dev has joined politics for power, then they are wrong. For me, power is people’s love, for which I didn’t have to become an MP. When my name was announced, nobody said good things to me. Everyone asked, ‘Why are you getting into it?’ What I want to tell them through this interview is that this is the most important position, place to be. This is the place from where the country is run and your and my future is decided.

As a responsible representative of the people, what do you have to say about your colleague Tapas Paul’s comments?

I would like to reserve my comments because everyone knows the truth and I don’t want to add anything more to it. People know who to love and who to hate. Leave it to the people. They know best what to do and how to deal with him.

Dev strikes the James Bond pose with his Bindaas babes Shrabanti (left) and Shayantika. “In Bindaas (directed by Rajib, produced by Shree Venkatesh Films, releasing on July 25), I play Abhimanyu and Abhi. It’s a hardcore commercial film like Chennai Express or Kick. But the fun is I have a double role. What I’m most excited about is that I have never had an Id release!”
Pictures: Pabitra Das

What kind of changes do you want to bring about in your constituency?

On the day of the results, I went to a school in Ghatal. I was appalled at the sight of the washroom, it was so filthy. A school should not only impart bookish knowledge but also teach basic health and hygiene. So I have pitched for better toilets in schools. I want to start by doing little things. Let’s start from the basics. If I can instil basic health and hygiene in the people of Ghatal, I know I am successful. Instead of waiting to get funds to do something big, let’s help each other and get the basics right. I have also declared that the cleanest school will get an award. People question the government all the time. Arrey the government can’t do everything. Let us try to make things better in our own way first.

In your last interview to t2 you had said that you want better roads in Ghatal...

Just the other day I was with Didi. I am trying. Three more hospitals are being built in my constituency. A bridge has been sanctioned. But see I also have to take care of the fact that the other MPs shouldn’t feel that Didi is biased towards me. They shouldn’t feel that only Dev is getting to do everything. We all know that the fund in the state government treasury is very less. And Didi has to look into all the constituencies. It’s been just three months. I am still too new to all this I am not a magician. I have a lot of ideas in my head. But before executing those I have to sit with Didi and the people in power. I am not here to make big commitments. People will see what work I will do during my tenure.

You are shooting for back-to back films, there are releases, shows, meetings… you are just 30. Don’t you feel the pressure?

Yeah… (pause) See there are two ways of looking at it. If you look at it positively you feel lucky about it, you feel you are the chosen one. If you see it in a negative light you may question yourself, why me? But I always look at life in a very positive way. God has his own plans for you. But tell me how many get what I have got? Don’t you harbour the dream to enter Parliament one day? Interview a politician sitting in Delhi, instead of a local star in Chandrakona!? (Laughs)

Ghatal has 16 lakh voters and I have won their trust. Before that how was I concerned about them? All I wanted was that they see my films. Today my responsibility is to make better toilets in the schools of Ghatal. Isn’t this a rise? Isn’t this thought noble?

Thank god I entered politics at 30. If I were to enter politics at 60, all I would be concerned about was how to cure my diabetes and arthritis! Now I can multitask.

Yes, if you ask me what has changed in my life in the past few months then that would be the lack of me-time. I can’t be at home more than two-three hours. Either I have a meeting with Didi, or I have film meetings or I am travelling to Bombay, Delhi or Ghatal. Earlier I would plan my me-time wisely. One Sunday I would go fishing, the other Sunday I would go watch a film. All that is erased from my life now. Now if I snatch away a few hours from work I still feel like working. I call up either Kamalda (Kamaleswar Mukherjee) to know about the script (of Mahabharat) or Rinadi (Aparna Sen, for Romeo Juliet, starring Dev-Raima Sen).

My life wasn’t planned this way, so the time management bit went haywire. All of a sudden my name was announced and I found myself in the thick of things. I have repeatedly told you in all interviews that I am petrified on the day my film releases. Today I am doubly scared. If my film fails people will say MP hoyechhe tai film chollo na. All I want to say is support me. I am here to do good work. If you find me doing anything bad, come and tell me. Either I will change myself or I will resign.

Are you now conscious of the way you conduct yourself in public? Like not partying....

See, I hardly party and even if I do, I never get drunk! I have attended a few t2 parties, you know.... I have always been a reserved person. Success didn’t change me. It gives me the high and motivates me to do better. I had signed Chander Pahar and Bunohaans together. People went ‘eewwww’ at the thought of Dev playing Shankar. For films like these, I get paid very less. For a masala film like Bindaas I get double the remuneration. But I have tried to do different films. I am not here to earn money! Then I would have done four other films with some other producers.

I am not in this profession to be rich. I love acting. I am passionate about films. If I do 40 films people should say 35 films are worth a watch, two films are worth adding to the list of their collection and three films didn’t work because that’s Dev’s bad luck.

After eight years in this industry, how do you look back?

Eight years back I wanted to be successful, I wanted to be one of the top three people in Calcutta. During these eight years I was always trying to prove myself as an actor. With all my shortcomings, my bad diction... I am bad in so many things yet I can act a little and entertain a little. Now I wake up and think okay, after a hectic day I should get a good night’s sleep and look fresh the next day on the sets of my film and not give my director the chance to say ‘Dev, you look haggard!’ That’s it.