Prosenjit the fighter - Prosenjit takes t2 on an emotional ride through the lows of his life and the lorai to beat them

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 24.12.14

Prosenjit poses as Santa with his invisible goodie bag in the lobby of The Oberoi Grand. “The goodie bag isn’t visible but people will get the drift,” smiled Bumbada, sporting enough to agree to the t2 request of wearing a Santa hat! Picture: Pabitra Das 

In Parambrata Chattopadhyay’s Lorai (releases January 9), Prosenjit is Sebastian, a loser who bounces back as the coach of a village football team. Once you’ve hit a real low the only way for you is up, provided you can fight it out. That’s what Lorai is about. In real life too, Prosenjit has been a fighter, against all odds. So, in the run-up to the release of Lorai, t2 asked Prosenjit to take us through five of the lowest lows in his life. “You’ve asked me very difficult questions, questions that made me nostalgic and sad. I am a very emotional man, very emotional...” he told us after the chat. Read on to rediscover Prosenjit and his lorai. 

I was just 10 when dad left us...

I was born with a golden spoon as I was the son of a big star (Biswajit Chatterjee). Both Maku (younger sister Pallavi) and I were pampered. The first setback in my life came when my grandfather passed away. We used to live in his house in Dum Dum. That’s the same time when dad detached himself from us. He settled down with his family. He had his own life. I was a little kid and we faced one hurdle after the other. Ma (Ratna Devi) used to worry about how she would pay our school fees. She used to keep students as paying guests in the house. It was a very bad time. We had cars but we couldn’t afford petrol so we had to commute by bus. But Maku, Ma and I stood together and we started our lorai and slowly we came out of it because by the time I was 13 I started working in a few films.... Meat and fish wasn’t part of our diet for a very long time! That’s the reason why we married off Maku so early because Ma thought at least if she is settled it would be one tension less. My parents were not divorced and I don’t want to get into the details because finally everything is fine now. I am nobody to judge who was right and who was wrong. I respect both my parents. Maybe the equation between them didn’t work. I don’t blame anyone except fate.

Prosenjit with dad Biswajit

At 14, I got a job in Star Theatrefor Rs 500...

I was trying hard to earn some money so I took up a job in Star Theatre. This was my first break which taught me a lot in life. I was also studying and doing plays three days a week. I was very happy because Rs 500 was a huge sum. I would buy saris for Ma. There’s an incident that has stayed with me. Ma would get a lot of respect from the people of the industry. She was very popular as Biswajit Chatterjee’s wife. Whenever she would visit the studios people would offer her paan and pamper her. But when dad left us, all that was gone. I was a struggling actor. Ma would accompany me most of the time, sitting under a tree with my food. I still remember the day when I was shooting till late for a very brief role for a film in Indrapuri Studio. Ma was with me. It was very late and we walked till Tollygunge and took a taxi. Ma was carrying my bag full of shoes and clothes. That was the day I took an oath that I have to do something which would give her back the respect she deserved. And then Duti Pata happened, which was a huge hit. I bought an imported car and Ma would come to the studio in it and people started pampering her again. Maybe Ma hasn’t seen the Prosenjit that I am today, but she saw me climbing up the ladder of success. Then Amar Sangi happened....

Debasree and Prosenjit in together times

I locked myself inside my flat after Chumki left me...

I don’t know when and how Chumki (Debasree Roy) and I fell in love. Ma and Chumki’s mom were best of friends and Chumki, Maku and I were best buddies since childhood. Ma would always say that Chumki would be my wife one day. But I can vouch for the fact that not even for a day did Chumki and I go out or even watch a film together. We didn’t date. Suddenly, one day, Chumki came to my flat and said, ‘I want to marry you’. Huh! She said, ‘I’ve left my house and you have to marry me, right now’. At that moment I felt like I was some Prithviraj Chauhan! On top of the world! I was a big star then and I agreed and we tied the knot. Everything was going fine and then one day Chumki left me.

That was a huge setback. For a year I remained cooped up inside my flat. I couldn’t face people, not for anything else but the fear of what will I say if people ask me about our marriage. See, there was nothing wrong between us. Till today I have a lot of respect for Chumki. It just happened. Maybe we were still too young. I don’t blame Chumki for anything. I have nothing against her. But back then I was around 26 and it was very difficult. I had asked all my domestics to leave. My driver’s mom would cook for me. And I refused every film offered to me.

But there was only one man who could pull me out of that state — director Swapan Saha. He came over and said: ‘You must work. If you don’t it’s the industry’s loss.’ He charged me up and I said yes to Madhur Milan where Abhishek Chatterjee was the hero, Rituparna Sengupta the heroine and I played the second lead! And within seven days I was working in another 13 films as the lead.

Then on my only lorai was to put up my best performance in each of my films and that has made me what I am today. Come what may I never neglected my work again. And that’s something that Arpita (wife) totally understands and that’s why are are together for 12 years.

With Rachana Banerjee in Sabuj Saathi

I was literally on the streets when my second marriage ended...

Around 13-14 years back when I left my second wife (Aparna), I was on the streets. Literally. I was forced to leave. I gave away everything. No bank balance, no house, no cash, no car. I gave away my Hindustan Park flat, my Golf Green flat, my cars, all my cash in the bank... to settle the matter. Again, I don’t blame her or regret giving away everything. It was my duty and I did it. I stayed with Maku in her flat. I had to start from zero. I was already 40 then and a star who didn’t have a house! Then slowly I took a flat on rent on Swinhoe Street which proved very lucky for me. Mishuk (son) was born there. And he is the only one who matters to me the most now.  

They wrote me off saying no one wants to see Prosenjit anymore...

Every 10 years there used to be a dip in terms of the number of films I would sign. I had to hear that someone else is taking over, some new hero is better than me. And the newspapers would write me off! Some pointed out that Prosenjit can no longer play a romantic hero. I always believed that no matter what the papers would write, it’s finally the people who go and watch films who decide the fate of actors. And then I signed Sabuj Saathi as a romantic hero which became a super-duper hit. 

When was the last time Mishuk gave you a hug? 

Today morning.

An incident that made you go weak in the knees...

When my son falls sick I go weak in the knees.

An incident that scarred you for  life...

Circumstances forced me to leave my daughter (Prerona). I don’t mean I have left her. She is a part of my life but socially we are not together. It’s not a scar, but if you ask me if I have failed somewhere as a human being, then that’s not being able to be with her. I have otherwise never done anything in my life that I shouldn’t have done.... I know time will mend everything.

Kushali Nag
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