Filmmaker Basu Chatterjee filled frames with life’s mundaneness and made it endearing. It is this penchant for simplicity, which made his characters, even those that he did not originally write, relevant beyond the times they were created in.
Like, Byomkesh Bakshi, the fictional Bengali detective originally created by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay, and adapted by Basu for the 1993 Doordarshan series of the same name.
Actor Rajit Kapur, who played the titular role, remembers his association with Basu, who passed away today aged 93, and reveals why their series stood out among all the adaptations of the famous character, in an interview with indianexpress.com.
Kapur said, “It’s because of the very simple approach. That simplicity is what gets projected to the audience. It’s very human. It’s not larger than life. What you go through every day. Whether there’s someone washing the dishes or working, his images are also a part of day-to-day life.”
He added, “So, you will still talk about the scene from Rajnigandha or Chhoti Si Baat, where they are playing table tennis and talking about life but they are still playing table tennis! Those scenes are remembered.”
Byomkesh Bakshi ran for two seasons over four years. While Rajit Kapur would leave it to the audience to analyse how their collaboration spun magic, personally for him, it was Basu Chatterjee’s unwavering discipline that made him unique.
The actor says his financial planning was so accurate that he would often joke with him that all his earnings were basically his savings. “What I learnt from him is time management. If we had to do six scenes in a day and a scene was going to take time, it was all clear in his head so that there was no time wasted. And time is money.
“I don’t think this man ever went over budget in his work. So, he was very aware of financial budgeting and time management. What you save is what you have. I used to joke with him, saying, ‘You have earned a lot because you have saved a lot’,” Rajit Kapur said.
His work ethics could be attributed to his practical outlook towards life, which naturally lent itself to the manner in which he chose to tell his stories – non-indulgent.
“The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about him is the simple, practical approach to things. That’s why he could make the kind of films he eventually made. That was the kind of man he was, and it translated into all his work whether it’s Rajnigandha, Chhoti Si Baat or Byomkesh Bakshi.
Also read | Basu Chatterjee gave us characters we felt for, we rooted for | Celebrities mourn the demise of Basu Chatterjee | Why Basu Chatterjee’s interpretation of Byomkesh Bakshi is the gold standard | Basu Chatterjee’s cinema celebrated the common man and woman with gentle humour | Best Basu Chatterjee films that you can watch online
“His basic approach to life was straight-forward, and it’s the little things that really matter. The practical side that really matters, and those were always highlighted in his work. Therefore it relates him to the common man, the aam aadmi or even that middle-class man. Nothing is with frills attached or larger than life. It’s very eye-to-eye, upfront,” Rajit Kapur concluded.
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