Tapas Paul, Bengali actor and former Trinamool MP, passes away
Tapas Paul had been suffering from heart ailments for the past few years; his characters went well with Left’s narrative of nurturing the countryside
Tapas Paul, once a major star of the Bengali cinema, twice MP and MLA, passed away in Mumbai on Tuesday. He was 61.
Mr. Paul’s life was nearly as dramatic as some of the characters he played. A boy from middle class suburban Bengal became an overnight screen sensation for his role of a village simpleton ‘Kedar’ in the film ‘Dadar Kirti.’ (Elder brother’s actions).
In film after film, he played the same character, a typical suburban or village good man, finally defeating the urban bad man at a time when the CPI(M) was nurturing the countryside. Many film makers and actors of the 1980s rode the political wave making films on emergent rural Bengal. Mr. Paul was perhaps the most successful of the lot whose victory in films symbolised the victory of the village over the city, fitting the Left’s narrative.
By the time his career dipped, he associated himself with the rising star, albeit in politics, of Bengal Mamata Banerjee. Ms. Banerjee nominated him in a south Kolkata seat in the 2001 Assembly election and he won it, indicating that his simpleton image on screen can equally charm the voters in the elite south Kolkata constituency. He told this correspondent in 2001, in an interview, that he realised “Mamata Banerjee is the future of West Bengal”, perhaps much before the rest of Bengal.
Ms. Banerjee never disappointed Mr. Paul, who was not a particularly bright politician, and gave him the Lok Sabha ticket in 2009 and 2014. He won on both the occasions but made a mistake which triggered his end. He commented during his 2014 poll campaign in his constituency in Krishnanagar that he would make his “boys enter the houses” of the Opposition “to rape”. The video clip went viral and he was publicly admonished by all.
Soon after, his name featured in the multi-crore Rose Valley financial scheme scam and he was arrested by the CBI in the winter of 2016. For nearly one and half years he was in jail. Mr. Paul, who loved playing the good cop in films, was shattered emotionally and physically in the company of convicts. However, on Tuesday his friends and rivals unanimously said “he was a good man at heart”. He would be remembered, many said, as the simpleton Kedar which made him a star.