Harsh Chhaya says He is More of a Bengali Now
By Hemanth Reddy S 24/12/2015

 Bollywood actor Harsh Chhaya, of Fashion and Laaga Chunari Mein Daag fame, was in town recently to attend the premiere of his latest Tolly project, Har Har Byomkesh. CT caught up with him for a candid chat where he opened up about his career, his love affair with Bengal, his take on the TV industry and of course, his experience of working in Bengali films. Excerpts:

You speak Bengali quite fluently and we heard that you can even read Bengali scripts. 

I'm almost Bengali now (smiles). While growing up, we always spoke Hindi at home, ate stuff cooked in groundnut oil.Now, it's mostly Bengali, and mustard oil; and I love both. My wife Suneeta (Sengupta) had declared before our wedding that she couldn't speak in Hindi and English all the time at home, so that was it (laughs). Must say , I love the tang of mustard oil too. 

What about sweets? 

I was coming to that. I have many favourites. All the nolen gur stuff... and what was that thing... Yes, the kheer kadam! I just love it. At this rate, I think I may soon become Harsh Sengupta. I'm more of a Bengali now. 

Someone who can even read Bengali scripts... 

Ah yes! It was actually Benoy Mittra's 2013 film, Antaraal, which prompted me to learn Bengali. My first reaction when I got the huge script was, impossible! I thought I couldn't play this important all-Bengali character reading dialogues written in what seemed to me like a Roman script.The feel would be missing. I could speak the language by then, but reading was a different ball game altogether. But thanks to Suneeta and a few language apps, I did it in a couple of weeks. Once I learnt the script, things became a lot easier. 

Is it true that you looked around Benaras for three days before starting the Har Har Byomkesh shoot? 

Yes. I had to. I'd never been to Benaras before and had absolutely no clue how a local behaved. So, I landed three days early to look around the town. Thankfully , since Arindam (Sil) is an actor himself, he supported my decision to reach Benaras before the shoot. I refused to take the hotel car and mostly walked down. I even travelled in packed autos. They pack in eight people in that much space! I roamed around the ghats and the markets. And everywhere people would come up and tell me, `Hum aapko kahin dekhe hain.' People out there are extremely helpful and have a big heart. I remember this auto driver, who offered me his bike for my entire trip on the basis of his trust for me. Their hospitality is commendable. I loved the simplicity of the people there. That's how I picked up their language and mannerisms. 

You've been a part of the TV industry for quite long. How's the current scenario? 

Extremely commercial. Directors are chosen on the basis of how many minutes of footage they can shoot per day , not their aesthetic sense. Casting is also done in the same manner -which actor can give the maximum number of good shots in a day . When I started out, the gap between the right roles -which you want to say yes to -was around two-three months, then it became eight-nine months, and now, one has to wait at least a year or more to bag a satisfying role. Now, almost all daily soaps have this woman who's always in trouble, and I'm a mama, chacha or phoopha con soling her. Then there's the `no-questions please' problem. Earlier, we had the liberty to add to the script and discuss things with the director. Now, if you start asking ques tions about a dialogue or a scene, everyone around would have this expression that says, `Le, ab yeh time barbaad karne wala hain.' No one has the time for questions or answers; even the director would be like, `Kar de yaar, khatam kar' (laughs). 

Coming to movies, despite having this corporate honcho image, how did you manage to break out of the mould and do what you did in Fashion? 

Image is a boon as well as a bane in the industry . Say, someone who's good playing a UP ka bhaiyya usually keeps bagging that kind of roles. It actually makes casting easy , as you already know who's good at what. But the actor gets typecast. As for Fashion, I read somewhere that Madhur (Bhandarkar) was looking to cast someone as a gay fashion designer. I knew I could do it, but convincing Madhur wasn't easy . He just couldn't visualise me in that role.Finally , I hired a make up guy , bought a wig and outfits and recorded a sequence as a gay designer. I made a DVD presentation and handed it to Madhur. I had given up hope when I received a call from his office after two weeks saying that I was on. It turned out to be one of those really satisfying roles an actor gets to do once in a while. 

How was the experience of working with the late Bappaditya Bandopadhyay? 

Working with Bappaditya was wonderful and really satisfying. We'd never met earlier, but became good friends during the shoot in Meghalaya. He was this extremely level-headed guy who loved what he did. He was the kind of guy who made films because he loved doing it his way; the popularity they gained didn't matter. His sudden demise is a great loss for everyone. I heard he was through with the first cut before he left us and nothing has happened after that.


Source: TOI

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