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Man of action Mithun
Man of action Mithun

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 can forget the number of comebacks he has made, you can laugh at his pelvic movements, but somewhere deep inside you know the man knows how to charm the man on the street, and when he wishes he can make the discerning sit up and take notice of his craft. 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 nobody liked to project the two images simultaneously on screen. “A serious actor was not supposed to dance. Action heroes avoided dance sequences.”

He says dancing was not considered masculine in the industry. Yet, after seeing him many rushed to dance classes to learn the moves.

Projects in the pipeline

“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.” What? “Yes, you heard me right. These kind of roles spur me on. It is being directed by a dedicated 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. People used to wait for that lanky boy to dance. In Bombay, I was first noticed when I performed with Helenji at an award ceremony. I became popular as the boy who danced like a snake.”

Mithun says he has no formal training in dance. “I used to indigenise Elvis Presley, whom we used to call ‘Pelvis’ 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.” Well, it did. He lists Disco Dancer, Pyaar Ka Mandir and Pyar Ka Karz as three films where he really enjoyed dancing. Beyond cinema, Mithun made news for being the highest tax payer in the country for five consecutive years.

ANUJ KUMAR

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