Q. After Uttam Kumar you have to name a savior of Bengali Film Industry, you have to name Prasenjit. It is only because of him, (i.e. if the lead role was played by Prasenjit), that one point of time the producers will invest their money in any Bengali Film. A. Prasenjit, nicknamed 'Boomba', was born in Kolkata in the year 1962. His father, Biswajit Chatterjee, was a famous actor in both Bengali and Hindi movies.
For the last twenty years, Prasenjit has consistently been delivering hits, good films and taking the lead in organizing the Bengali Film Industry. Film Critic and Historian, Chandi Mukherjee shares why he thinks that Prasenjit is the Numero Uno of Bengali Cinema
After Uttam Kumar you have to name a savior of Bengali Film Industry, you have to name Prasenjit. It is only because of him, (i.e. if the lead role was played by Prasenjit), that one point of time the producers will invest their money in any Bengali Film.
Prasenjit, nicknamed Boomba, was born in Kolkata in the year 1962. His father, Biswajit Chatterjee, was a famous actor in both Bengali and Hindi movies.
But like other actors son Prasenjit never got any backing, any promotion or any help from his father for stepping in the film industry. After long 25 years of his film career, where he stands now is solely due to his own struggle, his own dedication and his own love for the film industry. After Uttam Kumar, literally, it was only Prasenjit who took the entire burden of Bengali Film Industry on his broad shoulder. At times, he had to sacrifice his acting career for the cause of this industry. He single-handedly tried to solve the problems of the fellow artists and as well as the problems of the technicians. He transformed into more an organizer, than an actor. And that has provided sustenance to this industry. His intense feeling has made him a more dependable human being than an actor. Prasenjit is happy with that because he loves the industry more than himself.
But why did the producers invest only in his films? This has a simple answer. The answer is, his films paid back the investors the money. Prasenjit knew from the beginning that the problem with the Bengali Films was its look. He personally took initiative to improve the look, the mounting of each of his films. He himself monitored the costume of the character, the action sequences and the dance scenes of his films. He knows that he has to draw the attention of the viewers of Bengali Cinema through all these things. He desperately tried to minimize the gap of the major points of attraction of his films with those of Hindi Films. He succeeded to a great extent. The producers were forced to escalate the budget on the costume, dance and fight sequences. The system of bringing fight masters and dance masters from Chennai of Mumbai became a steady culture of Bengali Commercial Cinema. These days anybody will find in the credit line, the name of a designer as the in-charge of costume. Earlier it was the responsibility of the dress supplier of the industry. This change of face on the Bengali Cinema was responsible for Prasenjits hard work.
When the producers of his films saw the result, they started listening to him. Then he started to bring in a corporate culture in Bengali Film Industry which was very much absent in any kind of cultural activity in Bengal. Prasenjit observed that the phenomenal change of face in modern Hindi Cinema was possible only because of the corporatization of the industry.
He being the Numero Uno of the Bengali Film Industry took the initiate of joining hands with big corporate houses like Sahara and etc. But his venture didnt click at that time for various known and unknown reasons. He brought the producers like Jhamu Sugandh to produce a series of Bengali Films. But not even the enemy would be able to say that Prasenjit took part in those ventures for his personal gain. He involved himself in those ventures only because to, elevate the standard, the production the value of Bengali Films. None other than Prasenjit, any film personality dedicated himself for the cause of the industry.
These days, the Bengali Film Industry is slowly becoming corporatized. These days the production value of Bengali Cinema can be compared with Hindi Cinema.
This proves that Prasenjit was right from the day one. Nobody would agree if someone call him visionary.
Prasenjit first acted in the film Chhotto Jignansa. The film was released in 1968 and he was awarded the B.F.J.A. award for the best child actor. After that he acted in supporting role in the film Dui Prithibi in the year 1980 (which had Uttam Kumar in the lead role). He appeared as the leading character in Duti Pata in 1983.
And after he acted in Dadamoni, Neelkantha, Bouma, Atanka, Pathbhola. Amongst the directors of these films were the directors like Dilip Roy, Anjan Choudhury, Tapan Sinha, Tarun Majumdar.
Then came his first super duper hit in 1987. The name of the film was Amar Sangee. After this film Prasenjit had never looked back.
Prasenjit has also been very selfless keeping in mind the Bengali Industry. After the success of Amar Sangee, he was hailed as the romantic hero. Tarachand Barjatiya was looking for the romantic hero who would star in his grandson Soorajs film Maine Pyar Kiya, and he approached Prasenjit. The condition was to concentrate on only Maine Pyar Kiya and stop doing Bengali films. Here Prasenjit, though understanding that the film could put him in a big league, he refused the film, as he did not want to disappoint his Bengali producers and directors and most importantly, the fans of Bengali cinema.
Prasenjit in Different Avatars
In Kali Shankar
He however starred in a few Hindi films, but never got a good script or a good proposition. He continued delivering hits after hits in the early 90s. In one Puja season, he became only the second actor after Uttam Kumar to have six of his films playing in the theatres. The “Aajker Nayak” was here.
In 1994 he was associated with director Rituparno Ghosh. This association still remains and has paid good dividend to both Rituparno Ghosh and Prasenjit. Till date Prasenjit has played leading and major characters in Rituparnos Unishe April – 1994, Utsab -2000, Chokher Bali -2003, Dosar – 2006, Khela -2007, The Last Lear – 2007. Through these films over long 13yrs Prasenjit has proved that he was equally acting prowess in both commercial and parallel films. In these films Prasenjit has shared the frame with actors like Aishwarya Rai, Konkana Sen Sharma, Raima Sen, Amitabh Bachchan and Preity Zinta.
In 2004, Prasenjit acted in Buddhadeb Dasguptas Swapner Din and in 2008 again he acted in his film Aami, Yasin Aar Amar Madhubala.
For Rituparno and Buddhadebs films he had to attend the premier of the films in Venice and Cannes Film Festival, and that gave him a great exposure of the international scene which he thinks is beneficial for his own career.
Some of his other major commercial films are – Aparanher Alo, Apan Amar Apan, Shraddhanjali, Jamaibabu Zindabad, Debdas, Sneher Pratidan, Mayer Anchal, Kartabya, Agni, Sajani, Anyay Atyachar, Protisodh, Sangram, Dadar Adesh, Criminal, Nayak, Sakal Sandhya, Refugee, Greftaar, Sangharsha and Bandhu.
He also directed one film. The name of that film was Purushottam. But after that he never tried his hand in direction. He also started his own Audio-Visual Organisation, Ideas which has already produced many television programmes and a few films.
But how successful is Prasenjit today? I think one example will be sufficient. According to industry guide books his latest film Shibaji directed by Babu Roy, has fetched Rs. 45 Lakhs only for the video rights even before its release, which is by for a record amount for any Bengali Cinema made so far.
On the personal front, Prasenjit was first married to actress Debashree Roy. The wedding did not last too long. Then he married Aparna. But these two marriages were not as successful as his film career. Later he married actress Arpita Pal and that marriage has proved to be right one. His sons name is Trisenjit. These days he is a happy family man.
And another form of happiness is also due to the recent announcement of the Special Jury Award at the National Awards for his performance in Dosar.