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Monalisa Smiles

A day before I interviewed Moushumi Chatterjee,I managed to watch the Gulzar-directed,Moushumi-Sanjeev Kumar starrer Angoor.

Written by Premankur Biswas |
April 6, 2010 2:47:59 am

A day before I interviewed Moushumi Chatterjee,I managed to watch the Gulzar-directed,Moushumi-Sanjeev Kumar starrer Angoor. There it all is: Sanjeev Kumar in a white kurta cracking those unforgettable one-liners with a deadpan expression. A young Deepti Naval in dowdy glasses,Deven Varma bumbling his way through a role of a lifetime.And sharing screen-space with all these brilliant performers is Chattrejee,glossy-cheeked and pleasantly plump,draped in Murshidabad silk,delightfully unselfconscious before the camera. Watching her go about her housewifely duties was a comforting exercise. It didn’t make you suddenly conscious of your own body like a Kareena Kapoor film manages to. Chatterjee herself seemed confident in her own skin even as her more svelte contemporaries (Rekha,Zeenat Aman,Parveen Babi) waltzed away with all the top heroes.

One wonders if Chatterjee was the Vidya Balan of her time. “I never really cared about all that. People said whatever they wanted to,I did my own thing. I was happily settled in life and only chose to do films which challenged my histrionic skills,” crackles Chatterjee who was in the town to promote her latest film The Japanese Wife.

Even as she pursued a successful career in Bollywood in the 1970s and 1980s,Chatterjee maintained an equally healthy career in Tollywood. “It’s so very easy to talk about the glory days of Tollywood but if you ask me I will say that a lot of good work is being done nowadays too. So many of these young filmmakers are open to new challenges and are thinking out of the box. Is that not praiseworthy?” she asks.Her latest stint with Tollywood gives her the opportunity to work with the “much-respected” Rinadi (Aparna Sen). “I have had the opportunity of working with a quite a few women filmmakers— Deepa Mehta (Bollywood Hollywood),Tanuja Chandra (Zindagi Rocks) and of course Rinadi (The Japanese Wife). I have realized that women make for wonderful directors. They are more accommodating and instinctively understand what a performer is capable of,” she says.

The Japanese Wife experience ,she concedes, has been wonderful. “With this film I have fulfilled two life-long desires. The first one was to work with Rinadi and the second one was to try and understand how a director goes about his or her job. In that respect Rinadi was a veritable institution,” she sums up.

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