He’s a chip off the old block. Mithun Chakraborty’s son Namashi is all set to make his Bollywood debut with Rajkumar Santoshi’s Bad Boy, releasing in theatres on April 28. Last week, Namashi was in Kolkata, his Bad Boyco-star Amrin for company, to promote his film. The Telegraph chatted with the unassuming young man on his journey to his debut, making it on his own and being Mithun’s son.
First things first... what does Namashi mean?
It comes from ‘Om namo shivaay’ and is pronounced as ‘Namoshi’.
Your parents have given you and your siblings pretty unique names....
Yes, all of us. Mahaakshay, Ushmey, Namashi, Dishani.... You will not find anyone else with these names. Now, a fan of my dad’s (Mithun Chakraborty) has named his son Namashi, but apart from that no one else has this name. I think it’s a very interesting name. The only problem I have is that people pronounce it wrong. They call me ‘Namaashi’....
Did you always want to be an actor?
Always, always... there never was a Plan B though, in the middle, I was forced to have a Plan B because of circumstances. Bad Boy is my first film but I have been an actor for 20 years now... I have done theatre, short films, comedy improv.... But as a mainstream Hindi cinema hero, this is my first film.
Was the goal always to be a Hindi film hero?
Not at all. I grew up between Mumbai, Ooty and Coimbatore. When I started my journey, I didn’t take any help from my father. Mumbai is a very strange city... you either get work or you don’t. When I started out, I immediately became aware of how difficult it would be. I was jobless for three years. I did not get a single gig on my own because I wasn’t anyone’s son or brother. I saw too many lows in my early-to-mid 20s, but that helped me become who I am today. I didn’t access my privilege at all and so today, when I have Bad Boy happening, I know that I have done it on my own. That feeling is very satisfying.
Did your dad pitch in at any point and say he would help you?
Never. He isn’t that kind of a person...neither of my parents is. In fact, when I told him that I was about to sign a Rajkumar Santoshi film, he told me: ‘You just went and did it? You didn’t even ask me.’ I told him that I didn’t ask him pehle, so why should I ask him now? Had my father called Rajji or the producer (Sajid Qureshi), I don’t think I would have been so humble in life. Main thoda bubble mein aa jaata (smiles).
I have seen rejections on a daily basis. I remember a casting director told me that I am not hero material... that I could perhaps play a second lead. But as soon as the same people heard ‘Chakraborty’, they were like, ‘Arre, you should have told us you are Mithunda’s son! We gave you so much shit’. I have always believed that rejections should never make you bitter... they should make you better.
Have you always been this zen about being rejected?
Ever since I was a kid, I have seen people hounding my father. I have seen fans hounding him in Russia. I shot a song from Bad Boy called Tera hua in Russia and even now, women my age — or even younger — are crazy for him! I just visited the sets of Dance Bangla Dance and when I stepped out of the make-up room with my dad, there was a sea of people. I have seen that kind of stardom since childhood. When I was with him, I was always important.
But when I stepped away from that shadow, I didn’t matter. I would stand in queues with 30 more boys in Aram Nagar (in Mumbai) and after standing for hours, we would be told that they had already selected someone. Or they would look at me and say, ‘No’. So from special... super special... VIP, I came to zero.
We are very humble as people... the whole Chakraborty family... and that’s why all this didn’t disturb me. For my first audition, my father told me to go in an auto. He told me: ‘If you want to go and audition in a Mercedes, I am not with you.’ He told me, ‘You will get a job... I just don’t know when.’
Three years were very hard for me. But because I am a person who accepts things and moves on, I started doing comedy on stage. I couldn’t face rejection every day and so I turned my attention to comedy and I became quite popular as a comedy improv artiste. I did shows with my comedy group for two years.
How did Bad Boy happen?
It was in 2019, just a few months before the pandemic. I was told that producer Sajid Qureshi had seen my pictures and wanted to meet me. By that time, I had faced so many rejections that I was like: ‘Okay, another time-pass meeting’ (smiles). I went to meet him and he asked me whether I wanted to do action or romance... I said I wanted to do comedy. He was like, ‘Are you mad?! Every debutant wants to do an action or romantic film!’ I told him that’s my forte.
Ten days later, I got a call that Rajkumar Santoshi wanted to meet me. The moment I walked in, he looked at me and said: ‘I think this boy has it!’
Rajkumar Santoshi may have been off the radar for the last few years, but he’s an icon... just look at the films he’s made. The moment I heard the script of Bad Boy, I felt like the hardship of the last three years had been wiped out. I am getting to do romance and action, and a lot of comedy in this film. But doing comedy with Johny Lever, Rajpal Yadav, Rajesh Sharma and Saswata Chatterjee was easier said than done. So all the 90 days that we shot this film, I was never in my comfort zone, even though I was doing comedy.
Namashi with dad Mithun Chakraborty in the song Janabe Ali from Bad Boy
When did you realise you had a talent for comedy?
When I started doing shows for an hour on stage without any script... it was fully improv. I could make people laugh. A lot of my colleagues would tell me that I took too much footage. But that’s what had happened to me. Because I wasn’t getting noticed, whenever I got an opportunity, I would over-compensate.
I remember my father came for a show of mine and because it was improv, I had to play a character and I became Mithun, imitating his voice and his mannerisms. I realised I could make people laugh. Even as a person, I am funny and that reflects on screen.
Are you the only with a funny bone in the Chakraborty family?
My dad has a great sense of humour... my mum (Yogeeta Bali)... not so much. She’s too much into her dogs and us (smiles). My brother Ushmey, who lives in Los Angeles and is a director, is very funny. I would say that I am the wackiest because I have lived a very colourful life (smiles).
You danced with your dad for a song in Bad Boy. Were you nervous?
It was a dream... I wasn’t nervous at all. Janabe Ali is a very massy song. When I came to know he was going to dance with me in this song I was like, ‘Awesome!’
What’s the scene like when the Chakraborty family gets together? What was your childhood like?
I was born in Mumbai, but lived in Ooty... we still have a hotel there called The Monarch. I don’t have a single bachpan ka dost who is a star kid because I didn’t live in Mumbai. In Ooty, my father would wake up and put on his costume... one day, he would be a cop, another day he would be a jallad and I would ask my mother, ‘How does he change his profession every day?!’ My mom told me then that he’s an actor. And when people would fawn over him, I realised how special he was.
We are a family of seven... my brother (Mahaakshay) is married (to actor Madalsa Sharma). The six of us — mom, dad and four siblings — think alike. If you sit at a dinner table with us, you will realise that our ideologies, our likes, our dislikes are the same. We are the same people.