Movies

Perennially charming

A CONSUMMATE ACTOR Madhabi Mukherjee

A CONSUMMATE ACTOR Madhabi Mukherjee   | Photo Credit: PHOTO: HINDU PHOTO ARCHIVES

Subrata Mitra took Indian cinema’s first freeze shot on Madhabi Mukherjee swinging in “Charulata’s” climax. Her expressive eyes and toothy innocent smile were her assets. As Charulata she received international acclaim.

Madhabi Mukherjee is the only living actress to have worked very successfully with Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, Mrinal Sen, Tapan Sinha and Tarun Majumdar. Be it her morose silent moments in “Kapurush O Mahapurush” or lip synching to “Aaj Mon Cheyeche” in “Sankhabela”, she always proved her worth.

She politely refused Raj Kapoor’s offer to work in “Mera Naam Joker”. Chetan Anand was keen to cast “Madhabi Mukherjee” in “Aakhri Khat”. She again denied as Hindi films never lured her. Turning 75, Madhabi Mukherjee in a interaction talks about her journey so far and working with different directors.

Narrate your experiences of working with Ray, Ghatak, Sen, Sinha and Majumdar.

I cannot say that in a few words. There are volumes of experience I gathered working with these stalwarts. Each of them was a director in the true sense of the term. To them content was always more important than technique. Each of them had a thorough sense of script and knew how to handle actors competently. Their eyes for details were remarkable.

You worked really well opposite Uttam Kumar, Soumitra Chatterjee, Biswajit and Subhendu Chatterjee

They were my co-stars in umpteen memorable films. Uttam Kumar was the ideal combination of a star and actor. His versatility, dedication and sincerity were amazing. Soumitra Chatterjee is a true director’s actor who can rise to the occasion and perform brilliantly. Biswajit and Subhendu Chatterjee were also talented in their own ways. Basanta Chowdhury was an aristocrat who had a deep resonance in his voice.

“Thana Theke Aaschi”, “Kapurush O Mahapurush” and “Agnishwar” had you performing intense characters.

I have performed intense characters of substance in many films. “Sankhabela” was a film with a romantic lilt and “Gar Nasimpur” was a costume drama. My comic abilities were well used in “Chadmabeshi”. My more memorable films as all know are “Mahanagar”, “Charulata”, “Subarnarekha” and “Baishe Shravana”. Throughout my career I was selective and avoided inane films.

Why are you apathetic towards Hindi cinema?

I am not at all apathetic. I have always admired the cinema of Dr. V. Shantaram, Guru Dutt and Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Immortal films like “Do Ankhen Barah Haath”, “Pyaasa” and “Anuradha” have been made in Hindi. I was so occupied with Bengali cinema that I did not have time for any other films. I believe in total commitment after I sign on the dotted line.

How do you consider today’s Bengali cinema?

As usual times, tastes and the audience have changed very much as compared to the 50s, 60s and 70s. Contemporary Bengali cinema has certainly improved technically. New experiments are being conducted. Yet the feeling one gets viewing Bengali films of yore is a perennial charm. There were simple, straight forward stories narrated so well on celluloid.

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 7:50:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/Perennially-charming/article17279061.ece

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