Chat Arijit Dutta who played LTF commander Mallya in Madras Café talks about the myriad interest, hobbies and passions that drive him
He plays the role of LTF commander Mallya in Shoojit Sircar's Madras Café —a man who starts off as being a Tamil loyalist and becomes a traitor to his cause, before he is eventually shot dead. But Arijit Dutta is a man of many facets. He is also an entrepreneur, avid sportsman and intrepid traveller who has essayed roles in almost 30 Bengali movies. This is his first brush with Bollywood and he talks about the experience.
How did you get attached to the project?
It was rather a sudden and coincidental situation. 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, then, 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. I forwarded them to him and only one word came back, “superb”
How was your experience, working with him? Working with Shoojit was so relaxing. It felt more like a holiday in exotic locales of Kerala than work. It is the kind of terrain I connect with. Shoojit is an extremely encouraging director. It was both a pleasurable and learning process. I also enjoyed working with my co-actors.
Travel, wildlife, sports — tell us a little 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 else would you want to achieve?
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 films and Satyajit Ray’s black-and-white working stills. My theatre in Kolkata, Priya Cinema, has these on the walls and all film premieres in the city are held here. Today, it is one of the best known theatres in the state.