Money is what for I do Films says Jisshu U Sengupta
By Hemanth Reddy S 18/12/2015

 Jisshu U Sengupta is a content man. "I have no enemies in the industry , but for that, I don't need to lick people's a**es," he says. A self-made man, who rates himself better as an actor than as a husband or a father, this actor is at his charming best when we meet him for a chat. Excerpts:

Arshinagar deals with intercaste relationships and your character hates the fact that his sister is in one. The country right now is divided on the lines of religion, caste and even food habits. How do you think the film is relevant at this time?

It's a wonderful take on Romeo and Juliet and Aparna Pishi (Aparna Sen) has done a brilliant job of taking the story and basing it on religion.Because, even though we talk about democracy and secularism, even though there are people who do not believe in communal issues, a major chunk of India still believes in the caste system and certain religious values. So obviously , standing at such a point of time, it's very, very relevant.

You are the father of two beautiful girls. What would happen if reel imitates real life and they have a relationship with a man from a different caste or community?

Today's generation is very intelligent. And my wife and I are quite up to the mark. We have decided to guide them to an extent. But I will never come in the way where their hearts are concerned. As far as caste or religion goes, I hope I will bring them up in a way that it won't matter to them.When I got married, I wasn't earning much.Nilanjanaa, on the other hand, was doing very well in Mumbai. She had a flat, a car. She was definitely a bigger star than me. But she left everything.When she came down to Kolkata, she had to live in a rented house and sleep on the floor. We got our first bed when she got pregnant. I remember, for the first couple of months, we used to get food from outside, because I had no money for cook ing gas! Then I got one cheque, we bought a fridge, another cheque, some utensils... that is how we moved along. For my daughters, I would want just one thing -that the man -or woman -should be support ive and a good human being. Even if she gets into a gay relationship, I don't mind. That's her choice! I'm very lucky to have a wife who thinks on the same lines.

From playing Sri Chaitanyadev to playing Kabir in Rajkahini, which is a very dark take on that famous name, tell us a little about the milestones.

My first was obviously Mahaprabhu.(Late) Debangshu Sengupta taught me everything about the industry . I was a cricketer and I had no idea how TV or films worked. He handheld me through it all. Then, there was working with Rituparno Ghosh. Before Rituda, I had never thought about a character. I would just go on the sets and give the shot. I had to deliver dialogues, I did that. But after meeting Rituda, that changed. He asked, `Do you think about what you do? You are a decent actor, but you don't think. The day you start thinking and then acting, you will be a better actor.' And I believe that I have evolved as an actor after I took his advice. I started experimenting a lot, and I don't think among my colleagues, anybody has really experimented with looks or characters to the extent I have. Srijit Mukherji's Jaatishwar was another milestone. There are basically three milestones in my life. Debangshuda taught me about the industry , Rituda made me an actor, Srijit made me a brand.He also made me confident, which is really important for an actor.

Jisshu Sengupta has always been the nice guy on screen. But with Kabir and Tayeb (Arshinagar), you are finally in touch with your dark side. Does this open up a new chapter in your career?

I always wanted to play a negative role.But not even in my dreams I would have thought that I could pull off a character like Kabir. But Srijit was bang on.Another thing that happened withRajkahini is that irrespective of the film's BO result, the two names that did the rounds after the release were that of Rituparna and me. In fact, Mahesh Bhatt and Pooja Bhatt called me up to tell me how much they liked me in the film. So, that is again Srijit, he has the vision. I don't think Bengali cinema has ever attempted a character as dark as Kabir.The difference between him and Tayeb is that Tayeb is very flamboyant. He is very stylish and upmarket. He is the dude.

You get more compliments on Twitter for your TV anchoring than the contestants. How do you compare the TV audience with the multiplex one?

I will put it very straight. I love money and I get huge amount of money for doing TV .

That's it? So, you wouldn't do TV if you were to get the same moolah in films?

Why would I not want even more moolah?
(Laughs). See, I don't beat around the bush. If someone says, aami anek bhabna chinta kore TV kora shuru korechhi aar tar ei karon, it's all bulls**t. Television is like newspaper -you read it today , next day it is gone. Yes, if you do something good, people will react to it. But next day , you won't get to see that anymore. Films, they stay . I do films for satisfaction, for name and fame. Television, I do for money .

This is the first time you are working with Aparna Sen. Many say that her style of work is very similar to that of Rituparno Ghosh. Having worked with both of them, what do you have to say about that?

Not exactly . Rina pishi aamay chor mareni. Rituda merechhilo. (Pause) Rituda used to treat me like his son. I have got beaten up, I have been scolded, I have even been punished like a schoolkid. I remember I was doing Abohoman and I got a scene wrong, so he made me stand at the corner facing the wall for an hour! He did not give me lunch. Mamo pishi (Mamata Shankar), who tried to sneak in some food, also got a scolding. But then, he called me and fed me himself! And I learnt a lot! I miss all that. I miss Rituda. He meant so much to me, to my family .Rituda often comes up in our conversations. Even when we are fighting, Nilanjanaa says, 'Rituda thakle tumi erokom bolte parte na' or I will say , 'Rituda thakle, tumi parte erokom korte?' With Rina pishi, had we worked together earlier, I would have developed that kind of bond. But you know, probably , as an actor, I am past that stage and I have aged... So, that's the difference. However, the way Rina pishi makes you understand a scene is brilliant! With Rituda, he would just show me and I would copy .

Your wife loves Abir Chatterjee as Byomkesh Bakshi. Did you, consciously or subconsciously, ever make an effort to swing her judgment?

Oh, she loves Abir as Byomkesh. Actually , Nilanjanaa is very black and white and very strong as a woman. She will tell you whatever she thinks on your face. That's the reason people who know her love her unconditionally and people who don't, can't stand her. For her, there's nothing grey . If she doesn't like something about you, she will swear the hell out of you. So, she told me, I loved Abir as Byomkesh, you must do something different. That's the reason why I love her so much. I can't swing her opinion even if I tried to! But thankfully , she loved me as Byomkesh too!

Do you think the Bengali audience is ready for a musical like Arshinagar?

We are all experimenting anyway . Apart from remakes, every movie is an experiment, right? So, why not? All over the world, there have been so many musicals and they have been superhits. I think, before this, the one film you could be sort of called a musical is Anurag Kashyap's Gulaal. In that film, the parts where Piyush Mishra's character (Prithvi Bana) describes everything he sees in his own poetic musical way.... you can call that a musical. Before that, the only musical I remember is Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne, and those were huge hits. Arshinagar is an experiment, yes, but if we start thinking about the audience's reaction even before making a film, I don't think we will ever be able to complete a film!

Har Har Byomkesh is about to release this weekend. And we have just seen that posters of your Byomkesh are plastered over Abir's film across the city. What is your reaction to that?

I will show you the pictures. I don't understand why people who write on this don't do their research well. In this picture, what do you see? This is the poster of Aleya cinema and not one from the production house. Theatres print their own posters. I don't care what people think. At the end of the day , poster e to chhobi cholbe na. If movies do well, whether mine or anybody else's, it's the industry's gain, which in turn is my gain! What are we fighting about anyway? Today , we release five films simultaneously . Why man? I feel so sad when I see that the number of halls has come down from 800 to 200. Why can't people talk about that?

From Anurag to Shoojit, the one actor they pick if they have a story linked to Bengal is Jisshu Sengupta. Is the level of dependence the same with your Tollywood directors?

All I can tell you is, every director I have worked with, has repeated me. Or has wanted to, at least.

Lastly, you brought up your wife Nilanjanaa in this chat so many times. You seem to be so much in love with her...

(Cuts in) Oh, I am a happily married bachelor.

But, do you know people think of you as a henpecked husband?

(Laughs) Really? I love my wife and respect her more than anything. Aami holam, maer koler chhele and she has taken care of me. Bou bole bolchhi na, I have never seen anybody with as clean a heart as hers. And these people, who talk about my relationship with my wife, how many of them are happily married? How many of them even have a relationship, can you tell me? Yes, I am a carefree guy , but when I go out with my wife, I am like, `bou shonge aache boss, keorami ta kom korbo'.That's respect for her. If that makes me a henpecked husband, so be it.


Source: TOI

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