Interview: Bengali Singer-Songwriter and Actor SHILAJIT on his music and films

The following is a sponsored article by Databazaar Media Ventures.

By Shoma A. Chatterji

Katakuti Tollywood Kolkata Bengali Movie Poster

Calcutta, Dec 22, 2011 (Databazaar Media Ventures) Silajit is a name to reckon with. He combines in himself, the talents of a poet, music composer, singer and actor. He has played an interesting character in Premangshu Roy’s debut film Katakuti. But it is also a character he is somewhat stereotyped in, of a husband whose marriage has reached a stasis and he has extended himself to another relationship. Katakuti is no different except that “In this film, I keep my links with my former girlfriend Pritha knowing fully well that my wife does not like it,” says Silajit, smiling.

How do you bring about a happy marriage between singing, composing music, writing and acting?

I do not think these are contradictory or conflicting in any way. In fact, I believe that my music enriches my acting and vice versa. The two are complementary and supporting. There is no point of stasis in either. Why, I write books and also paint when the mood takes me. So, as far as I am concerned, there is nothing problematic about doing both – singing and acting.

What motivates you to give the green signal to a role or film?

There are several in fact and it is difficult to grade or pinpoint which comes first. For example, money is the primary motive. But I often make exceptions if there is a significant role. For a new director who comes to me with a good script, I am game. For a veteran director, there is financial viability for the film and the project so usually it is a ‘yes.’ Footage is not a critical issue with me though. For example, in Sandip Ray’s Tintorettor Jishu I hardly had a role to speak of and no dialogue. But I accepted it because I wanted to work with Sandip Ray and his team. On the other hand, I rejected an offer from Mira Nair for a role in Namesake because it was a very insignificant role.

How has the experience of working with a relatively new team in Katakuti been?

I found a very sharp and intelligent young man in our director Premangshu Roy. He can extract exactly what he wants out of his actors and knows his job well. Shubro was quite an ordinary role for me, middle-class, a bit compromising, dependent on his girlfriend and exploitative to some extent. I liked some of the lines I was given to recite. The visualization of the shots was strong. Rupanjana, who portrays my wife in the film, was awesome.

Are you a director’s actor?

Funny but most of the time, I do not agree ideologically with my directors but I still listen to them because I am a director’s actor and there is something new to learn with every new director. I am trying my best to be and remain a director’s actor. No actor can go beyond the perceptions of the director. My homework for my role in Katakuti was mainly confined to discussions with my director.

Would you like to mention some memorable roles you have done over your career?

On the whole, I enjoyed all the films and television serials I acted in. If the production side is organized, it becomes more convenient for me to put in my best. Experiences vary with different units, teams and directors. Each director has a different approach, a different way of interacting with his actors.  I thoroughly enjoyed my work in a telefilm called Collage directed by Kaushik Ganguly with Nandita Das. I did a double role in a television serial called Phera which is a favourite. I am currently shooting for Khaasi Katha and for Srijit’s new film.

What about your music?

I have a close-knit performance group that gives me a lot of strength specially when I am away on a shoot. They keep the rehearsals going. I am planning to identify as a music band with seven members including myself. The group is called Antenna with Ananya being the sole female vocalist among us. She once had an all-female band but it did not last. Aseem Pal has been with me for 13 years and we are looking forward to our rise as a band to contend with.

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