“Whatever little I saw of my friends in Mumbai film industry, convinced me that their life would never be my life. I shall be something different. I shall be a failure and misfit there and eventually become a bad man,” 77-year-old Chatterjee told reporters ahead of National awards tomorrow.
Making his debut in Satyajit Ray's “Apur Sansar”, he went on to enjoy a great actor-director relationship with the Oscar winner by starring in classics like “Charulata”, “Ghare Baire”, “Devi” and “Aranyer Din Ratri”.
The actor, who enjoyed huge popularity as a matinee idol in Bengal after Uttam Kumar, says he was never tempted to move to Bollywood.
“I also had a feeling that an actor can only excel in a language whose nuances, whose delicacies, whose subtleties he has full control over.”
Chatterjee, who had turned down a national award 11 years back to protest the bias against regional films, feels that cinema from different regions is yet to get its due.
“Regional films should have received much more scrutiny and attention because there has been so many good directors and films. Popular Hindi films represent pop culture and a very easy way of defining what Indian population wants.
“Regional cinema is a place where you see more distinct kind of art flourishing. It can be only be compared to folk art. It has its roots there and so it is more authentic, true and expresses more accurately life around.”
Chatterjee, who acted in several critically acclaimed films, says the actor in him has warred many a times with his stardom.
“My stardom and the actor in me have interfered many times but it all depends on what you love more. I always wanted to be a star. I would lie if I say that I did not relish my stardom but more than that I wanted to be an actor.” Ray played a defining role in Chatterjee's acting career but ask him about why the director kept repeating him film after film, he says that he shared a great rapport with the director.
“I wouldn't know how I would have influenced him but I did have a kind of rapport with him. While working, it was way simple for me to understand what he was expecting from me. I am more than sure that he also understood what kind of work he could extract from me. That kind of rapport was there but he influenced me enormously. He was one of my mentors I would say. I would not be here had he not been there.”