Sengupta had been cast for another role in the Soumitra Chatterjee biopic. It was the veteran's intervention that saw him land the part of the young Soumitra.
Jisshu Sengupta recalls how Soumitra reassured him while shooting for Abhijaan
Kolkata - 01 Apr 2021 21:58 IST
Among Jisshu Sengupta’s upcoming projects, the Soumitra Chatterjee biopic Abhijaan (2021) is probably the most anticipated one. Sengupta plays the younger version of Soumitra in the film, directed by Parambrata Chatterjee. Last week the actor took time out from his busy schedule to attend the launch of the film's trailer at a pub in Kolkata.
As the trailer was being screened, Sengupta got emotional, particularly as he watched the last sequence featuring the legendary actor who died of complications resulting from COVID-19 last November.
Later, during a group interaction, he revealed that he was not initially chosen to play the young Soumitra in the film. “Last year, some time around the first week of January, I received a call from Soumitra-jyethu. He asked whether I had already spoken to Parambrata and was doing ‘the role’.
"Without knowing what he meant by ‘the role’, I assured him that I was a part of the film,” said Sengupta. A few minutes later, the actor got another call. This time it was the director Parambrata, who broke the news that Soumitra wanted Sengupta to play his young avatar instead of the character he had been cast for.
Sengupta said the call from Soumitra Chatterjee meant a lot to him, and he regards it as one of his biggest compliments.
The actor, who is now working in multiple languages, has been an avid follower of Soumitra’s films since childhood. “Our shooting started in January end last year and, initially, I had difficulty managing the dates," he said. "However, before the shooting began, I made sure to watch the interviews of Soumitra-jyethu available on the net.”
Sengupta had previously worked with Soumitra in Posto (2017) and Shonar Pahar (2018). “I didn’t separately prepare myself for this film," he said. "All I can say is that I have not tried to copy him. I have tried to have a better understanding of his thoughts, reactions and philosophy and portray them on screen.”
Sengupta, who is currently shooting for Aritra Mukherjee's Baba Baby O (2021), said that except for the height, he bears no resemblance with Soumitra’s physical features. According to him, “Trying to copy him would have been an audacious attempt.”
In 2019, Sengupta had portrayed another Bengali screen legend, Uttam Kumar, in Soumik Sen’s film Mahalaya. In Abhijaan, however, Sengupta not only had to portray Soumitra, but also his multiple on-screen avatars. Not a fan of doing 'homework' before shooting, Sengupta said, “I got a feel of the location, read the script multiple times. But there was no scope of adding something of my own to the role as I was playing a living character.”
As he and Soumitra were not shooting together, Sengupta could initially avoid the legendary actor on the sets. “I was quite scared and vulnerable then," he admitted. "However, one day, I finally happened to meet him. He had been getting updates about my performance from Parambrata and had also seen some of the rushes. He called me and praised my performance no end!” The younger actor felt quite reassured after the veteran's feedback.
Like many actors, Sengupta, too, was inspired by Soumitra’s portrayal of Satyajit Ray's fictional detective Feluda. However, since the beginning of his acting career, Sengupta had harboured a desire to enact another legendary portrayal by Soumitra in Jhinder Bandi (1961). “I feel enacting Feluda comes with a lot of responsibility," he said. "Currently, I have a strong desire to portray Mayurbahon from Jhinder Bandi and I have had that wish since I developed an understanding of acting. Abhijaan fulfilled that desire to an extent.”
Asked whether he desires to appear in any other distinguished actor’s biopic, Sengupta replied that he hardly plans for the future and simply takes up projects as they come. He added that shooting for Abhijaan has been one of the most special experiences of his life as he shares a brotherly bond with the director.
Sengupta has also finished shooting for Mahesh Manjrekar’s Antim: The Final Truth (2021, Hindi), Chiranjeevi’s Acharya (2021, Telugu), and the Telugu remake of Andhadhun (2018) and has signed on for yet another Telugu film titled Shyam Singha Roy.