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regular-article-logo Friday, 14 June 2024

Oti Uttam actor Gourab Chatterjee: ‘Television has given me things I never thought I’d get’

Directed by Srijit Mukherji, Oti Uttam also stars Anindya Sengupta and Roshni Bhattacharya

Soujannya Das Calcutta Published 01.04.24, 05:17 PM
Gourab Chatterjee

Gourab Chatterjee Instagram

Having played himself — legendary actor Uttam Kumar’s grandson — in Srijit Mukherji’s Oti Uttam, Gourab Chatterjee tells us why he is proud of this film, his memories of his grandfather’s work and his current projects.

What is the best part about playing yourself on screen?

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Gourab Chatterjee: I think very few actors in the world had the opportunity to do this. It was a privilege for sure. Oti Uttam is a fun film and so it feels great.

You have always turned down any work relating to your grandfather, Uttam Kumar. How did you react when you were offered Oti Uttam?

Gourab Chatterjee: Whenever people have tried to do a film on him, his work or his life and offered me a role, it never excited me. At times we agreed to certain projects from the family, but I never wanted to be a part of them. Oti Uttam is a very different film. It is a very proud moment for an actor to be a part of a film that has never been done before. After we finished filming, an article came out on James Dean being brought on the big screen through CGI visual effects. We were the first ones to do that using various existing footage of an actor and combining them into a script.

Which films of your grandfather have you grown up watching? Which are your favourite?

Gourab Chatterjee: I didn’t like watching black-and-white films like any other kid. I remember as a child, his films were aired on Doordarshan at a particular time. My family would watch them but I preferred watching animated cartoon shows. Weirdly, I somehow got hooked and watched a full film. That has been the biggest influence on me in wanting to be a part of the filmmaking process. I never imagined myself as an actor.

I got an offer from Tarun Majumdar for the film Bhalobasar Onek Naam and I realised after reading the script that I was going to be the leading actor in a film. I eventually started doing television and it dawned that I am a professional actor and I like doing this. I wanted to be a part of the filmmaking process but acting wasn’t in the plan.

Deya Neya, Ogo Bodhu Sundari and Sharey Chuattor are my favourite films. I like his comedy and romantic films. When I was a child, I watched Antony Firingee and Agnishwar; these films left a mark on me.

What are some of the stories about your grandfather you grew up with?

Gourab Chatterjee: I mostly heard about him when I started working. A lot of technicians would come to me to share their memories and experiences of working with Uttam Kumar. I mostly heard it from outsiders.

How was the experience of shooting Oti Uttam?

Gourab Chatterjee: The shoot was quite gruelling. It was not like a typical shoot as it involved CGI and visual supervisors sitting with their monitors as the movement had to be coordinated and matched. It was the tougher side. I was enjoying the work. The shooting process was quite methodical but in the end, it made me happy.

Are you a method actor?

Gourab Chatterjee: I am. I consider myself a below-average actor, so I try to go method and be very prepared. Also, as my first director was Tarun Majumdar, for three to four months we had a workshop for my first film. He would make me mug up lines and prepare when I was on the floor. That got into me. So now when I’m on the floor, I am always prepared.

Srijit wanted to cast you in his first film Autograph…

Gourab Chatterjee: He had shot one of the scenes with me to show it to SVF. I started doing my first project on television and that’s when I met Srijitda. He wanted to make a film and cast me. I think it probably did not work out for my TV schedule. Also, Nandana Dev Sen would have looked quite older to me on screen.

How difficult has it been for you to cast aside Uttam Kumar’s shadow and make a name of your own?

Gourab Chatterjee: I don’t think it will ever leave me. I am kind of quite happy actually and it never bothered me probably because of my work. When I’m preparing for something, my family, the legend who I’m connected to, doesn’t come into the picture. Initially, people would recognise me as Uttam Kumar’s grandson but then eventually, people came to recognise me by my name or my characters’ names.

You have worked on television consistently, with your last serial Gatchhora getting a high TRP. Do you want to stay focused on TV or work in films?

Gourab Chatterjee: To be honest, in our industry there is not much of an option. Television has given me things that I never thought I would get, be it fame or finances. I will never ditch television, not at least now. I have finished a few films. But if a television show comes up, I will say yes to it.

I am shooting for a new Addatimes series, Julie, directed by Aritra Sen, which has Paoli Dam. I finished shooting for Shiboprosad Mukherjee and Nandita Roy’s Amar Boss.

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