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Prosenjit on his 50th film with Rituparna: ‘Always trying to do something different has kept us going’

Kaushik Ganguly’s Ajogyo marks Prosenjit Chatterjee and Rituparna Sengupta’s 50th project together; it also stars Silajit

Soujannya Das Calcutta Published 11.06.24, 04:49 PM
Prosenjit Chatterjee and Rituparna Sengupta, one of the all-time hit pairs of Bengali cinema.

Prosenjit Chatterjee and Rituparna Sengupta, one of the all-time hit pairs of Bengali cinema.

From Nag Panchami to Ajogyo, the hit pair of Prosenjit Chatterjee and Rituparna Sengupta have come a long way. With Ajogyo, directed by Kaushik Ganguly, hitting the theatres, we caught up with Prosenjit – aka Bumbada — on his 50th film with Rituparna and how they have evolved over the years as co-stars.

Fifty films together. How does it feel?

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Prosenjit Chatterjee: It only happens when the audience expresses a desire to see us together on screen. For years it has been the same. After the success of Praktan and Drishtikone, things changed a bit. Now the audience wants something more from us, not just as a stereotypical hero-heroine film but for the actors that we are. As actors, we’ve transformed over the years. The language of cinema has changed. Moreover, I think the common factor between us over the years has been our passion for cinema. Always trying to do something different has kept us going.

You both have starred in some of the best Bengali films. What do you feel about your personal journey?

Prosenjit Chatterjee: I made a conscious decision to shift from commercial cinema. I am a student of cinema and have worked hard over the last 40 years to anticipate changes. I realised there was a shift towards a new audience. To move forward, I needed to cater to the multiplex audience and new viewers. I always wanted to give space to younger actors.

When I did Autograph, its director Srijit Mukherji was unknown, and the film’s release clashed with that of Dui Prithibi, which was a big film. But I understood the shift was required. Then I did Srijit’s Baishe Srabon, a film no other hero would have taken on, but I had nothing to lose. People doubted me during Goutam Ghose’s Moner Manush but I thought it was time to break away. This strategy has helped me.

Do you remember the first film you and Rituparna worked together in? The first scene you were in?

Prosenjit Chatterjee: It was on the sets of Nag Panchami in Chennai. I was already a star then and Ritu (Rituparna Sengupta) was a newcomer. I saw her dressed as a bride on the set and our first scene together was that of Phoolsojja. It was a romantic scene.

Right after that, we did a song by the beach. It was a difficult song to shoot and I did guide Ritu. It was a new style for her; it was done in slow motion but we had to emote it in a rapid way.

What is it that you admire about Kaushik Ganguly? Why do you feel he was the right person to direct your 50th film with Rituparna?

Prosenjit Chatterjee: We consciously decided to work with mature directors like Srijit Mukherji, Shiboprosad Mukherjee and Kaushik Ganguly. Kaushik took this project, Ajogyo, seriously and it took over a year to finalise the subject. It took Kaushik a long time, which normally isn’t the case with him after he has narrated a subject. He understood that we bring in a lot of experience, so he had to justify that.

Kaushik is also a very good storyteller. A film starring me and Rituparna needs a good director who can take on the responsibility of these two brands. I think Kaushik is one of those directors we have in Bengali cinema, and every actor wants to work with him.

From Praktan to Drishtikone, how have you both evolved over the years?

Prosenjit Chatterjee: Ritu is constantly changing, while I’m very planned. She and I are like the north pole and south pole, but we complement each other. Ritu has matured, and despite the fact that she is always late, she remains a wonderful person. Even after a gap of 14 years, working with her on Praktan was thrilling. She understands the importance of each scene and dialogue, and respects the rehearsal process.

I’ve seen her evolve right from our first film Nag Panchami. She has evolved both as an actor and as an individual. Doing films like Paromitar Ekdin and Sasurbari Zindabad at the same time or for that matter, Utsab and Baba Keno Chakor, is only possible for a versatile actress like her.

Your next project is Netflix’s Khakee- The Bengal Chapter alongside Jeet and Saswata Chatterjee…

Prosenjit Chatterjee: Yes! I have already started shooting for it.

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