Interview: Versatile Actor Rajesh Sharma on His Bengali and Hindi Films - "I Hope to Play More Positive Roles"

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Rajesh SharmaMichigan, USA, March 7, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio) Among his numerous remarkable performances are Calcutta Police supercop Amit Kumar Srivastav in Baishe Srabon, Delhi Police Crime Branch officer N.K. in No One Killed Jessica, Noted South-Indian Movie producer and director Silva Ganesh and Kidda Dass in Dirty Picture, Kamalkant Kakkar aka KK in Ishqiya and so on. Bidisha Bagchi chats up actor Rajesh Sharma who effortlessly slips into such challenging roles in this informal and candid audio interview with WBRi.

Rajesh Sharma grew up in Calcutta, naturally influenced by the unique environment the city offers, from rabindrasangeet to stage theater.

It was his keen interest in the latter that eventually led him to join Usha Ganguly's famous drama group "Rangkarmee". Internationally acclaimed Writer-director Aparna Sen watched Rajesh perform on stage in a drama. Impressed with what she saw, Aparna offered him the role of film-maker Rajiv in her Bengali movie Paromitar Ek Din (2000), and thus Rajesh commenced on his parallel career in feature films. His subsequent appearances in Rituparno Ghosh's Shubho Mahurat (2003), Srijit Mukherji's Baishe Srabon (2012) and so on only underscores his versatality.

As an actor, Rajesh believes he should not be concentrating on any one type of roles to play. Always looking for challenging characters to portray, Rajesh says the only choice he sometimes makes is to adjust his dates to prioritize on a role that is more interesting than others. Having played quite a few antagonistic roles, Rajesh would also like to play more positive roles going forward. He fondly recalls his role of Tinu Gunda in Haranath Chakraborty's Pratibad (Bengali, 2001). There are still many people in rural Bengal who identify Rajesh Sharma as Tinu Gunda, such was his portrayal of the gangster. Pratibad is one of the longest-running Bengali films ever, having played for over two years in some theaters.

Talking about the recent crop of high-quality Bengali films being made by fresh young film-makers in Kolkata, Rajesh notes that such films tend to appeal more to urban audiences, while commercial films incorporating a romantic story with a hero, heroine, bad guys, music and dance will continue to have a greater audience in the rural areas. Having said that, tastes are changing slowly in rural areas as well. Rajesh finds it very encouraging that in the urban areas of Bengal, viewers are now flocking back to watch Bengali movies and not Hollywood or Bollywood flicks, something which had not happened in cities for quite a while.

Rajesh dwells upon the unique challenges of portraying Delhi police office NK (in No One Killed Jessica) - a character of a corrupt police officer but who still has a heart and a will to do good deep inside at the same time.

Rajesh has appeared with Vidya Balan in Ishquiya, Parineeta and Dirty Picture and hints at the possibility of appearing in his fourth film with Vidya soon, possibly written and directed by Raj Kumar Gupta. In Ishqiya, Dirty Picture and recently Chalis Chaurasi, Rajesh has also appeared alongside Naseeruddin Shah and hopes to work with Naseeruddin again.

Coming to Bengali cinema, Rajesh's ongoing projects include Daan directed by Nupur Roychowdhury being shot in Bangladesh and the Sunderbans, and Satabdi Roy's next Bangla movie titled "Om Shanti Om". Needless to say, all of us Indian and Bangla film lovers look forward to watching Rajesh Sharma in these and many more films over the coming decades.

Guest: Rajesh Sharma, India
Host: Bidisha Bagchi, Michigan, USA
Article: Supratim Sanyal, Washington DC, USA

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