Why is Mithun Chakraborty still so charming?
“There must be something in me that I still enjoy a bigger fan base than many of the younger stars. Can you tell me what it is?” Mithun Chakraborty’s humility is charming. You laugh at his pelvic movements, but for those who believe in tangible proofs, Mithun has three National Awards on his shelf.
“I don’t classify cinema. I was always clear that my job is to entertain. Some were entertained by my pelvic movements, others wanted me to do meaningful roles. As an actor, my job is to satisfy both.” He says it was risky, because “a serious actor was not supposed to dance. Action heroes avoided dance sequences.”
“If you have to create a niche, you have to attempt something that has not been done before. Now I am playing a junior artiste in a Bangla film. These kind of roles spur me on. It is directed by a newcomer Gaurav Pandey. Then I am doing a Sameer Chanda film, where I play an aging postman.” And in between he is the maha-guru on Zee TV’s new talent show “Dance India Dance”, where the search is on for the country’s biggest dancing star. “Dance is like a prayer to me. It helped me earn something when I was a nobody. I used to dance during Durga Puja celebrations in Kolkata. In Bombay, I was first noticed when I performed with Helenji at an award ceremony.”
Mithun says he has no formal training in dance. “I used to indigenise Elvis Presley. I added some Indian movements to his pelvic jerks and it became a new style. My experience says western style comes and goes but if you add local flavour to it, it stays.”
Mithun finds the passion with which people of his generation worked in cinema is waning with the entry of corporate houses today. “Just technique doesn’t make good cinema. There has to be soul, which I don’t find in these corporate ventures. They sell a film like toothpaste.”
Of his hiatus and his rivalry with Amitabh Bachchan, he says: “Bachchan and I were two poles of the industry in the 1980s. I have great regard for him. I had to bring up four kids. I knew superstardom was not going to last forever. I wanted to give them a safe future. So I moved to Ooty and ventured into the hospitality business. They are grown up and now it’s up to them what they do with their life.”
Beyond cinema, Mithun made news for being the highest tax payer in the country for five consecutive years. “I believed in a certain ideology. I always felt the tax I pay could make the life of another Mithun easier.”