Un­der The Spot­light

He has been the toast of Tol­ly­wood. Keep­ing his act­ing game on point, he has ar­rived in Bollywood and how! Ac­tor, di­rec­tor and mar­tial arts prac­ti­tioner, he has un­fail­ingly packed a punch with his pow­er­ful per­for­mances.The not so quin­tes­sen­tial babu­moshai

Stardust (English) - - MUSIC ROOM - TOTA ROY CHOWDHURY

Your name is Push­parag Roy Chowdhury. What made you change your name? My grandpa, an ar­dent devo­tee of Lord Tota Gopinath, was vis­it­ing the Lord’s tem­ple when he got the news of my birth and that’s how I got my daak naam (pet name). Ben­gali’s give a lot of im­por­tance to daak naam. Every­body even­tu­ally started call­ing me Tota, I never changed my name. One is usu­ally called by the daak naam by the peo­ple who are very close to you and love you. So when peo­ple call me Tota, I feel that they are con­nected to me!

Your act­ing skills got no­ticed in the crit­i­cally ac­claimed short film Ahalya. How did you bag that role? One evening, post din­ner I got a call from Su­joy Ghosh. He said that he was send­ing over a script and wanted me to read it. Once the script ar­rived, I couldn’t keep it down till I fin­ished it. It stirred a mil­lion emo­tions up in me. I was amazed read­ing it, and so I called him up and asked him what were you hav­ing when you wrote this! And be­fore he could ask me, I an­nounced that I am on board. So that’s how it started. Ahalya is a mind blow­ing short film. Stand­ing to­day, around 20 mil­lion peo­ple have watched Ahalya. The feel­ing is flab­ber­gast­ing.

Did that help you pave your path in Bollywood?

Yes. It hap­pened to me af­ter Ahalya and that too by chance. Ini­tially, I had no plans to move to Mum­bai. It was in 2016 that Su­joy Gosh was pro­duc­ing Te3n. He asked me to do a cameo in which I was asked to play Mr Bachchan’s son-in-law. Work­ing in Kolkata and get­ting the op­por­tu­nity to work with my idol was ab­so­lutely unimag­in­able and I couldn’t af­ford to miss it. In the des­ig­nated scene, I had to shout at Mr Bachchan as my daugh­ter was kid­napped and killed. And when that hap­pened, Su­joy said, if he can do that to Bachchan sir, I’m sure he won’t be in­tim­i­dated by Vidya Balan! I was then cast by him in Ka­haani 2.

You played the role of a bu­reau­crat NaveenSarkar in the film In­duSarkar. What made you take it up?

Mad­hur sir was looking for a Ben­gali ac­tor. He wanted some­body who was flu­ent in Hindi and had the body lan­guage of a North In­dian but sen­si­bil­i­ties of a Ben­gali. Our meet­ing was rather in­ter­est­ing. One day, some­body from Mad­hur sir’s of­fice called me and in­formed that Mad­hur sir would be in Kolkata and would like to meet me. I was pretty ex­cited and was looking for­ward to it. I have watched all his films and am a huge fan of his work. I met him on a Sun­day and as I en­tered, I found him looking at me in­tently. We had a meet­ing and al­most af­ter two weeks I got a call and I was asked to come to Mum­bai. I thought maybe it is for an au­di­tion. And when we met, he treated me to a sump­tu­ous lunch and an­nounced that I‘d got the role. He said that the mo­ment I walked in he ob­served me walk, he de­cided to cast me then and there. It’s my walk which made me Naveen Sarkar!

Is there some­thing which you would change about B-town?

It feels very pre­ma­ture to be an­swer­ing that ques­tion. Right now, I’ve just met this beau­ti­ful girl and ev­ery­thing is rosy about her. Let me be with her for five years! (Laughs)

Is there any dif­fer­ence be­tween Tol­ly­wood and Bollywood? And if yes, what is it?

The sen­si­bil­i­ties are the same. Every­body is out to make a good film. What is dif­fer­ent is that projects in Bollywood can gen­er­ate a lot more money which re­gional cin­ema can’t af­ford to. A Ben­gali film can’t match up to the scale of a Tamil or Tel­ugu film due to the bud­get. A big bud­get film in Ben­gal which we can af­ford is six to seven crores, be­yond that, it makes no sense.

You’ve worked in Ka­haani2 and Te3n, which pri­mar­ily had a Ben­gali cast and crew. And now you’ve worked with Mad­hur Bhan­darkar. How was your ex­pe­ri­ence? Mad­hur Bhan­darkar cast­ing me with­out an au­di­tion and se­lect­ing me on the ba­sis of my walk, I think I am very lucky to get the op­por­tu­nity to work with him. But now of course, that I’ve tasted blood (laughs), the kind of eye­balls a film like Indu Sarkar gen­er­ates is way too much. As an artiste, at this stage of my ca­reer, I want my work to reach max­i­mum num­ber of peo­ple. Bollywood is no more lo­cal, it’s gone global. And to get my work across to the peo­ple around the globe is ev­ery ac­tor’s dream.

A lot of Bollywood films ear­lier were in­spired by Ben­gali films. But of late, the ta­bles have turned. What do you think of this trend?

The re­make cul­ture will ul­ti­mately stop and die a natural death. The tec­tonic shift has started tak­ing place and peo­ple aren’t real­iz­ing it. With the ad­vent of very com­pet­i­tive data plan, peo­ple are watch­ing the con­tent over their mo­bile phones. So to­day if I want to re­make a Tamil, Ben­gali or Hindi film, it makes no sense as peo­ple have al­ready watched

Choices be­come avail­able to you if you are com­mer­cially suc­cess­ful.”

One good thing is that peo­ple can’t link my on­screen avatars.”

it. The trend in the past three years has changed. And re­makes are al­most out and thank God for it! A young lot of tech­ni­cians and di­rec­tors have come in and there have been di­rec­tors who have given us good films. And this huge tal­ent is now un­der­lin­ing their in­no­va­tion with the con­tent they are putting up.

Will you ever want to trade con­tent rich projects for com­mer­cial suc­cess?

Com­mer­cial suc­cess is some­thing which is very ba­sic for an artiste. The choices be­come avail­able to you if you are com­mer­cially suc­cess­ful. If I am a com­mer­cial suc­cess, I know some con­tent will be made for me. A good film is made from the brain of a di­rec­tor, the heart of the unit and from the pocket of the pro­ducer. Com­mer­cial suc­cess is very lu­cra­tive and at the end of the day, what­ever as­pi­ra­tions we may have, the pro­ducer is wait­ing for his money to come back. If his pock­ets aren’t re­filled he won’t make an­other film.

Has your life changed post Indu Sarkar?

Peo­ple are com­ing up to me and com­pli­ment­ing me and are tweet­ing about my per­for­mance. It is spe­cial as peo­ple who I ad­mire like Anu­pam Kher sa­hab and Ashutosh Gowarikar sa­hab have praised my work in the film. That is a great high and an im­pe­tus to keep grow­ing and do bet­ter. I’ve re­al­ized a strong in­ter­est which has been gen­er­ated in Bollywood and I am happy about it.

If one looks at your film tra­jec­tory, you have por­trayed di­verse char­ac­ters. What do you have to say about that?

One good thing is that peo­ple can’t link my on­screen avatars. Most of the peo­ple haven’t been able to link the same guy with Ahalya, Te3n and Ka­haani 2. Of course, the credit goes to the di­rec­tor, the makeup and cos­tume depart­ment that I could have dif­fer­en­ti­ated in my avatars. And it gives me im­mense plea­sure and makes me be­lieve that I am on the right track.

What are your upcoming projects?

I didn’t look for anything till Indu Sarkar re­leased. Now that it is out, yes, I am in talks with peo­ple. Presently, there are two projects which are at their ini­tial stage and it is too early to talk about. Sec­ondly, I have a few Ben­gali projects which I in­tend to start by Au­gust end and wrap up at the ad­vent of Durga Puja.

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