Will look for more Bollywood work: Jisshu Sengupta on Manikarnika

He plays Rani Lakshmibai’s husband Maharaja Gangadhar Rao in the period drama

By Arindam Chatterjee
  • Published 25.01.19, 4:40 AM
  • Updated 25.01.19, 4:40 AM
  • 3 mins read
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Jisshu Sengupta as Gangadhar Rao in Manikarnika. A still from the film

Jisshu Sengupta is all cool and composed just before the release of Manikarnika, where he plays Rani Lakshmibai’s (Kangana Ranaut) husband Maharaja Gangadhar Rao. “I have given the examination, there’s no point in getting anxious now. I am very excited because it is one of my biggest releases. Actually, it is the biggest release of my career. I had a fantastic experience working in this film,” smiles Jisshu. A chat… 

Arindam Chatterjee :

Jisshu, we know that you believe in going by instinct when you are playing a character and you are a director’s actor. How did you prepare for this role?

Jisshu Sengupta:

I read up on him (Gangadhar Rao). I was given a lot of reading material on him. From all of this, I came up with the way he walked, the way he would speak. He was a large-hearted man, who was also very culturally inclined. He used to read a lot, do plays, recite poems and he had one of the biggest libraries. 

Arindam Chatterjee :

Post-Piku, what kind of offers came your way? 

Jisshu Sengupta:

I have been getting a lot of offers since last year. I am looking at characters that will stay with people, that they will remember. Characters that are relevant. Just the way I select scripts here. The top Bengali directors in Bollywood know about me and the work that I have done. I have worked with everyone, from Anurag Basu, Pradeep Sarkar to Shoojit Sircar. Right now I am shooting with Sujoy Ghosh (for a Netflix series). 

Arindam Chatterjee :

Tell us about your look in Manikarnika

Jisshu Sengupta:

With the costumes on, I automatically felt regal, and the vibe came easily. To play the character, one had to look and feel royal 24x7. I wore a turban, heavy jewellery, a costume that weighed 15kg. I was simultaneously shooting for Manikarnika and Ek Je Chhilo Raja. In two-and-a-half months, I took 23 flights, including an international flight to Los Angeles. It was physically very challenging, shooting for both. I would catch up on sleep on the flights. For Manikarnika, we shot in Bombay, Bikaner, Alsisar and Karjat. 

Arindam Chatterjee :

Did Kangana know about your crazy schedule?

Jisshu Sengupta:

Yes, she knew about it (smiles)! I completed my dubbing in May 2018 and then got to know that we had to shoot some new scenes. That’s when Kangana stepped in as director. She was the best person to direct it since she was there with the film from day one. After that I shot for another 15 days in Karjat.

Arindam Chatterjee :

How was Kangana as a director?

Jisshu Sengupta:

She was very good. She knew exactly what she wanted. She was very clear in her vision, which made the work of the actor easy. She was the best person to do this. She was very nice to me, very helpful as a co-actor and very co-operative. Kangana is a fabulous actress, when she is in front of the camera, she changes completely. She became Rani Lakshmibai... I feel this is one of her best performances. 

Arindam Chatterjee :

What kind of a chemistry do the reel husband and wife share?

Jisshu Sengupta:

Very sweet, emotional one. They used to love each other a lot.

Kangana in Manikarnika
Kangana in Manikarnika A still from the film
Arindam Chatterjee :

Did you learn horse riding or sword fighting?

Jisshu Sengupta:

I was learning to ride a horse for Ek Je Chhilo Raja, which came to good use in Manikarnika. There were a few horse-riding scenes. I had to learn sword fighting and that I learnt on the sets. I picked it up really fast. A lot of it is choreographed. You know exactly what and how you have to do it. 

Arindam Chatterjee :

Did you have sword-fighting scenes with Kangana?

Jisshu Sengupta:

There are, but I can’t talk about it now. It’s a crucial moment in the film. 

Arindam Chatterjee :

What was the most challenging scene?

Jisshu Sengupta:

A sword fight sequence where I had to be very cautious. It was very intense. 

Arindam Chatterjee :

To go back a bit, when did you receive the first call for Manikarnika?

Jisshu Sengupta:

I was at a dinner with my family in 2017, end-October, when I got the call. I got to know that Manikarnika was being made and they wanted me to play Gangadhar Rao. Soon I also heard the story. But the dates were not working out since they were with Srijit (Mukherji) for the shoot of Ek Je Chhilo Raja. The dates for the first leg of the Manikarnika shoot were also clashing with my shoot dates for Ghare and Bairey. My team then came into the picture and worked out the dates. Srijit also helped a lot. Finally, I started shooting for Manikarnika on December 16, 2017. 

Arindam Chatterjee :

What’s the difference between shooting for Tolly and Bolly films? 

Jisshu Sengupta:

Just the budget. Nothing else. 

Arindam Chatterjee :

What’s your plan for Bollywood now?

Jisshu Sengupta:

I’m looking into it. I am meeting a lot of people. When I am not shooting here, I am in Bombay. Now, I’m going to look for more work in Bollywood.