December 23, 2021 7:05:52 pm
The beefy look of ‘Golondaaj’ has given way to a leaner and slimmer Dev. The actor, Bengal’s de facto superstar, is his usual cheery self as he enters the familiar turf of Calcutta Rowing Club, enquiring about his friends in the club. The success of ‘Golondaaj’ is reflected in his demeanour as he is preparing for the release of his next, ‘Tonic’. The film releases on December 24.
Dev is doing different kinds of films, moving away from the usual song-and-dance routine for the last seven-eight years. Is ‘Tonic’ an extension of this experimentation? “I have been doing different kinds of films for the last seven-eight years. Now, if you see, it’s the age of content-oriented cinema. Superstardom has gone. You have to be a character. The character in ‘Tonic’ is very interesting. I haven’t done this kind of character before. It’s very fresh, which made me say yes. There is a certain kind of energy in the film. At the same time, there is a message in it,” he says.
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It was the relatability of the film that appealed to him. “There are different kinds of films. One is based on true stories. One is a historical film like ‘Golondaaj’. Another one is a fairy tale or mythology like ‘Baahubali’. And yet another one is the relatable story. Something that gives you a feeling of comfort — this is not my story but I can relate to it. ‘Tonic’ is one of those stories. When you see the film, you will feel like you are the tonic in your family. That you are the person who puts in that extra effort to keep your family happy and healthy,” the actor explains.
What kind of effort has he invested in ‘Tonic’? “’Golondaaj’ was a way more difficult project than this. ‘Tonic’ is more like me. That me who likes to laugh and have fun. Like the character in the film, I feel that I understand my mother as well. I understand that they want to be busy but they also want to feel important. They want their children to also ask them about their likes and dislikes. So, when I go out for vacation, I also make a point that they too do the same. While shooting for ‘Tonic’, they were there with me in Darjeeling. In the morning, I would go out for shooting and they would go out for sight-seeing. Today everybody is on Facebook. Every minute detail of their life is out there. Sometimes it influences you. You want to eat or do similar stuff that you see there. Today those little things matter. Like, in the film, the son and daughter-in-law had gone to Bangkok on their 10th wedding anniversary. Whereas on the occasion of their parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, they want to celebrate it on the terrace of their house. ‘Tonic’ shows that it’s okay to celebrate it on the terrace but ask them once,” he clarifies.
But amongst this sort of cinema, where is that glamourous Dev we remember – a superb dancer and your typical hero. The actor cuts in, “Who said I don’t dance and sing anymore? Watch ‘Kishmish’ (his next release) and you will know. See, content is important. I have to choose among what I have been offered. Some of the highly commercial movies of Shah Rukh Khan or Salman Khan didn’t work. You have to understand that the audience has changed. Today they have access to world cinema, meaningful cinema. Over-the-top action or over-the-top dance… I have my doubts. Every film is not a ‘Sooryavanshi’. But again, if we do a ‘Sooryavanshi’ repeat, then people will say we are doing unrelatable films. I am not doing it, but other heroes are doing it, and you can see the results.”
His girlfriend Rukmini Maitra has done ‘Sanak’ with Vidyut Jammwal. Does he plan to head to Mumbai too? “I am happy here. I don’t have to go to Mumbai just because someone has gone there. It’s more respectful to live like a king in a small state than to live like a foot-soldier in a bigger state. In Mumbai, I know I will just be one of them. I will be one of them in Mumbai while I am the numero uno here. If you discuss Bengali films of the last decade, you cannot ignore Dev. One can clearly see the effort that I have put in every film. I know if I go to Mumbai, I will lose out on so many things that I can still give to Bengali cinema. We have limited actors over here but there are only three to four actors who are doing films regularly. In that context if I say I won’t work over here, then who will take hold of Bengali cinema. I am very happy over here. Just as I am happy for her too,” he says.
Does he guide her? “She is much more intelligent than I am. Whenever she needs me, I am always there to help,” he says. The actor has had his ups and downs in terms of relationships. Now, his relationship with Rukmini is more stable. What has this stability given him? “I am much more focused now. I can balance my political work (he is the Trinamool MP from Ghatal area of Bengal) and films with equal ease. And that’s a blessing,” he says.
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