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Chat Arijit Dutta who played LTF commander Mallya in Madras Café talks about the myriad interest, hobbies and passions that drive him

Juggling several rolesArijit Dutta
Juggling several rolesArijit Dutta

He plays the role of LTF commander Mallya in Shoojit Sircar's Madras Café —a man who starts off as a Tamil loyalist and becomes a traitor to his cause, before he is eventually short dead.

But Arijit Dutta is a man of many facets. He is also an entrepreneur, an avid sportsman and an intrepid traveller who has essayed roles in almost 30 Bengali movies. This is his first brush with Bollywood and he talks about the experience.

The casting for the role happened by chance when at a party,

How did you get attached to the project?

It was rather a sudden and coincidental situation—Lady Luck had lots to do with it. There was a party at the director Aniruddha Roy Chaudhury's house, I was chatting with people when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around to find Shoojit telling me that he wanted me to play a small role in his film. I was taken aback but of course I said yes, even though at that point of time I didn’t even know what the project was.

A month later, I got a call from him asking me to wear jungle fatigues and Gandhi spectacles, take some photographs and send it to him which I did. I forwarded them to him and only one word came back, “superb”

Tell me a little more about the experience.

Working with Shoojit was so relaxing it didn't feel like work at all, more of a holiday in the exotic locales of Kerala. It is the kind of terrain I connect with. Shoojit is an extremely encouraging director and working with him was a relaxing, pleasurable and superb learning process. I also enjoyed working with my co-actors.

You are an avid sportsperson, traveller and wildlife aficionado? Can you tell me a little more about your interests?

I have always had a tremendous affinity, interest and love for the hills and the forests. My interest in animal life emanated from my mother’s father, Arun Chandra Gupta, who was the first India chief conservator of forests and regaled me with stories about wildlife, creating an interest that persists even today. I have travelled to various forests both in India and abroad.

I have always been very involved with sports. It is in my genes, I think as both my parents were deeply involved in sports. Also since I studied in a boarding school in Darjeeling I can play almost every sport.

What next? What else would you want to achieve?

Once again considering my affinity for hills and forests I am seriously thinking of an eco tourism venture in north Bengal which would encompass adventure, outdoor sports and nature education activities. This would probably be the first of its kind in the eastern India. Hopefully I will succeed in this.

Tell me about your collection of film memorabilia. How did it start?

The family had produced a number of films and various memorabilia of these films are still with us. Over the years I have also collected original posters of various top notch and popular Bengali film, Satyajit Ray’s black-and-white working stills.

My theatre in Kolkata, Priya Cinema, has with these on the walls and it has created such a good atmosphere that all film premieres in the city are held here and it is today one of the best known theatres in the state.





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