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Happy birthday Jisshu Sengupta: Of failures and unfinished dreams

The actor celebrated his birthday with close family members and friends, including Rudranil Ghosh and many more.

Roushni Sarkar

Heartthrob of the Bengali film industry, Jisshu Sengupta turned 41 today. The actor celebrated his birthday with close family members and friends, including Rudranil Ghosh and many more. Sengupta also took the day off work.

Sengupta has had a busy year so far with Bengali and Hindi cinema projects. His upcoming rom-com with Koel Mallick, Ghare And Baire will be released on 30 March. He has recently finished shooting for Krish’s Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi in which he plays Gangadhar Rao, the husband of Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi, played by Kangana Ranaut.

Sengupta will also be seen playing the role of a king from the transitioning period of 19th to 20th century in Srijit Mukherjee’s Ek Je Chhilo Raja. On the eve of his birthday, Sengupta began shooting for Soumik Sen’s Mahalaya 1976, in which he is going to play none other than Mahanayak Uttam Kumar.

Happy to live in his five-storeyed dream house in Southern Kolkata, Sengupta said, “I am enjoying my work in Mumbai, but I never want to shift there. What will happen to my house then?”

The actor, who loves to lead a king-size life, doesn’t believe much in stardom. His deepest desire is to be remembered as an actor and in this regard, he draws the reference of Irrfan Khan and the film The Lunchbox (2013). “The Lunchbox was a hit. But Irrfan Khan is not a star, he is an actor! I don’t mean to say that I want to be like him, but I am not really impressed when someone calls me a star. I don’t want to be in that illusion. I am from a very middle-class family, my parents struggled a lot to bring me up,” the actor told newspaper Ebela.

Sengupta began his career with mythological television serial Mahaprabhu where he appeared as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and earned accolades. However, his initial popularity was followed by years of failures until he was cast in The Last Lear by Rituparno Ghosh in 2007.

“Today Jisshu Sengupta the actor is respected in Mumbai because I have six Rituparno [Ghosh] films on my CV. His films have given me the recognition that I had never got from the industry. He taught me the finer nuances of acting. He taught me to think like an actor,” said the actor reminiscing about the director, who he considered to be his parent, friend, philosopher and guide, in an interview to Telegraph India.

Jisshu Sengupta with his wife Nilanjana on his 41st birthday

The multifaceted director not only extracted some of the finest performances from Sengupta in Shob Charitro Kalpanik (2009), Abohoman (2009) and Chitrangada: The Crowning Wish (2012), but would also tell him, “Jisshu you are my Soumitra. Satyajit Ray had his Soumitra and you are mine.”

Sengupta regards his years of failure as nothing but a learning phase. During that period, he learnt a lot about the technicalities of filmmaking. “It was an honour for me to work with Rituda as a co-actor in Chitrangada. I got the opportunity to help him with his camera range, lighting, etc...things that I had slightly better knowledge of. He knew he could trust this son of his. The equation between us had changed from director-actor to co-actors in Chitrangada. And I made sure I was there to guide him. I became more confident as an actor after this experience."

Sengupta, who started his career with a mythological character, still does a thorough research before he delivers his performance for historical figures. For his role of Gangadhar Rao in Manikarnika, he reportedly did the same.

Since Jaatiswar (2014), Sengupta has also been a favourite of Srijit Mukherjee. He has appeared in Rajkahini (2015) and Zulfiqar (2016) and has finished shooting for Uma and Ek Je Chhilo Raja. Due to his repeated box office failures, once Sengupta was rumoured to having bad luck. Mukherjee, with casting him in multiple films and also by making public statements, defended the actor in this regard.

Like each birthday, every year brings different surprises for the actor. Last year, his performances for Anjan Dutta’s Byomkesh O Agniban and Shiboprosad Mukherjee and Nandita Roy’s Posto were widely appreciated. At the same time, his appearance in Rabi Kinagi’s Jio Pagla was severely criticised. Upon being asked whether working for Jio Pagla was a bad decision, the actor stated his wish to be a part of mainstream commercial films. He also added that there is a tendency in the industry to look down upon commercial films which he finds to be nothing, but hypocrisy.

Sengupta hopes to have a new chapter in his career in this year. He also wishes to complete the unfinished dream of his mentor one day. Though, he will never be able to direct the dream project featuring Rituparno Ghosh and Raima Sen, he has deep faith that one day he will prove Ghosh’s assessment of his capabilities to be true by directing a film.