Bengali actor Prosenjit Chatterjee, who is essaying the challenging roles of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and an ascetic in upcoming film Gumnaami, says he always waits for good roles and the one offered to him in the Srjit Mukherji movie was beyond his dreams.
Chatterjee told PTI on Sunday that any actor would have accepted the roles, that were offered to him in Gumnaami.
The film portrays Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and the character of an ascetic in Faizabad called ‘Gumnaami Baba’, but there was no effort in the movie to establish that the two were the same, he said.
The film, slated to be released on October 2, is based on theories surrounding Netaji’s ‘disappearance’.
“Never in my wildest dreams had I thought of getting a chance to portray such a character, but it is equally true that I am approached by directors only when they have a challenging role to offer.
“I also believe any actor in the world will agree to portray a global icon like Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose,” he said.
Recalling that he had undergone a prosthetic makeup that took three to four hours to perfect the looks of Netaji and Gumnaami Baba, the actor said, “For me, it was more challenging to become Netaji, as I don’t have the same physical built or look like him.”
“I also had some initial doubts about essaying the character of Netaji since everyone knows how he actually looked like, but I was convinced by the director. He asked me to start all kinds of preparations for the role which included increasing my food intake and putting on weight”, Chatterjee said.
Asked how he prepared for the roles of Netaji and Gumnami Baba, Chatterjee said it took him five to six months during the pre-production phase.
“We did a lot of research for documentation, including watching whatever footages I could lay my hands on,” the actor said.
Mentioning that the film, particularly the part dealing with Netaji was “almost like a documentary with very little fictional elements”, Chatterjee said, the film deals with three theories surrounding Netaji’s disappearance – the plane crash theory, the Russia theory and the Gumnami Baba theory.
“The plane crash portion has been extensively referred to in this film. Perhaps no previous film had dealt with the plane crash theory, the way we did. There was logistical problem for shooting of the Russian theory, while the Gumnami Baba part was shot in various locations of Uttar Pradesh where the hermit had surfaced in the 1970s”, he said.
Asked to comment on the controversy regarding the film, including the statements by several members of Netaji’s family against the movie, Chatterjee said, “We could foresee there will be debates, arguments and counter-arguments but did not anticipate that it will turn so bitter.”
“Before arriving at any conclusion let the people opposing the film watch it for once. They will understand that we are not belittling anyone. Also can a cinema belittle an icon, a true patriot, a warrior like Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose,” the actor wondered.
“We have not projected Netaji as Gumnami Baba. We sought to refer to different theories about Netaji’s disappearance.
“Can’t a film, as a work of art, bring up questions which remain uppermost in people’s mind, to narrate all the three theories and leave it for the audiences to decide? Why pre-judge a film which has been cleared by the Censor Board which is okay with the title,” the actor said.