How on Earth did director Kushan Nandy think of you for this part?
I met the casting director Jogiji in 2018… I keep doing that… I keep meet casting directors, do auditions, read lines. The casting directors say they will get back which they hardly ever do, for whatever reasons. But Jogiji remembered me. He told me to do an audition for this role of an overweight nerd in Jogira Sara Ra Ra. He made me hear the story and I loved it. I did the audition and it was forwarded to Kushan sir who really liked it. He wanted me on board.
What was your preparation like?
We started shooting for Jogira Sa Ra Ra just two days before the official lockdown for COVID in 2020. We shot for two days and then we had to stop. In that brief shooting spell before COVID, I was completely different from what I am in the film as you see it now. Earlier it was someone far more appealing, a regular guy who would have no problem in wooing the heroine. At the end of 2020, Kushal sir called me to his office. I thought I was going to be removed from the film. That’s what happened to me 90 percent of the time before. Big producers have signed me with contracts. And then just days before shooting, I was told I was no longer part of their film.
That must have been a mortifying experience.
It was. I thought it as going to happen again. But this time my stars were kind to me. Instead I was told that there will be a complete overhaul for Lallu’s character. They needed to make him look completely opposite to what we shot before the lockdown. That’s how my character has emerged as bulked up and nerdy. Kushan sir wanted me to be overweight and he wanted my face to be especially puffed up. We made the character simple and harmless but also weird. We wanted audiences to see that weirdness beyond the cuteness, which my co-star Neha Sharma, who is a very pretty lady, saw every time she looked at Lallu. My body language, the way I spoke, the way I rode the bike, all conveyed that sense of weirdness about my character.
You are the best thing about Jogira Sara Ra Ra. But did you ever feel this role could harm your career?
Thank you. But what career are you talking about? My career has been the way it is for the last fifteen years. So honestly I had nothing to lose (laughs uneasily). The era of heroes with six packs and veins popping out of their arms and how much they can lift in the gym, is over. The audience is now smart enough to recognize the acting capabilities of an actor and that is why I decided to give this role a shot. As an actor it is a challenge for me. Luckily I am not slotted yet. I am basically just a puppet in any genre. So many people have congratulated me. It was a risk but it paid off, because like I said, I had nothing to lose.
How have you coped with so many years of struggle?
There is a famous line from the MMS fighter George Sain Pierre. He said that even waiting is training. In that sense I have been training myself, to be calm focused to keep giving a hundred percent of myself. Of course there were days, weeks even, months when I would just give up and say, ‘Screw it. I am done.’ To get up every day with the hope that one call is going to change your career and to see that hope crushed every night, it takes a lot of practice. Then you get used to it… So in this stage of my life, I have come to know that everything means something or nothing at all, depending on how you see it. Neither success nor failure, good or bad, nothing is permanent. You just have keep trying. One day your prayers will be answered. That’s how I’ve been coping. Even now I am waiting. Even tomorrow I will be waiting. Even my dad (Mithun Chakraborty) after reaching the top of the mountain, had to find another mountain to climb. So the struggle continues, whether you are successful or not.
What is the one career advice that your father has given you?
To be an honest human being. Let’s say I become a superstar and I am a total jerk. People will favour me until my stars shine. Once I am no longer successful I will be thrown out. More than success it is your goodness as a human being that matters. I believe kindness not hatred is the weapon to conquer the world. That’s what my father has taught me.
What do you have to say to those who think star kids are products of nepotism?
Ninety nine percent of the world thinks very negatively of star kids. You won’t believe this. But someone on Instagram has commented that he always believed I was a product of nepotism, but after Jogira Sara Ra Ra he has become my fan. We are not ‘star kids’. We are not treated special. When I go to the gym, many people don’t talk to me as they have this preconceived hatred towards children of stars. All of us are struggling. I am the perfect evidence that nepotism doesn’t exist. You know what a legend my father is. He has earned every bit of his success. But has his success helped me? No absolutely not! I am just like any struggler. And I don’t want any special privileges for being someone’s son. Today whatever praise I am getting for Jogira Sara Ra Ra I have earned it on my own. My parents are so proud of me. After so long people are praising me. It took fifteen years. But finally it did pay off. It has been a hard journey. Each actors has his own battles to fight. This is my battle. And I love the fight. I hope reading about my struggle, some struggler out there gets motivated.