Art & Entertainment

Bengali Superstar Jeet: Nothing That Exciting Yet In Hindi

Bengali superstar Jeet opens up about why Bengali cinema isn’t on the same pedestal it was in the 1960s-70s. He also gives out why he has stayed away from Hindi cinema. Also, he gives an insight into how Bengali cinema is also trying to be pan-India like South cinema has already done.

Jeet
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Jeet has been one of the biggest superstars coming from Bengali Cinema. He has had a pan-India appeal and people all over the country have loved his films. It’s Jeet’s action scenes and stunts that people have a penchant for, but even with his emotional and dramatic characters, he has been able to woo the audiences. His film ‘Chengiz’ was one of the biggest pan-India releases this year.

Talking to Prateek Sur, Jeet opens up about why Bengali cinema doesn’t have the kind of magic that it used to have in the 1960s-70s. Also, many of his contemporaries like Jisshu Sengupta, Parambrata Chatterjee and others have done numerous Hindi projects as well. So what is it that’s stopping him? He also talks about why Bengali cinema isn’t able to go pan-India like South cinema has already done. He opens up about his contribution to this movement towards taking Bengali cinema to the world.

All this and lots more in a candid chat with Bengali superstar Jeet. Excerpts:

In the 1960s-70s Bengali cinema used to produce the biggest hits all over the country. Filmmakers like Satyajit Ray, and Rithwik Ghatak used to make films and get love from audiences all over India. What do you think has changed in Bengali cinema in the past two decades or so that Bengali cinema is not able to get that kind of love from audiences across India?

I really don’t have a very specific answer to this that after them there were no greater makers and that we could not reach out to a wider audience. Maybe there is something lacking on our part but thankfully things are getting better now. There is good content and good movie makers and now we are reaching out to the Hindi audience.

You’ve been one of the biggest stars in Bengal. Stars like Jisshu, Parambrata and Prosenjit keep doing Hindi projects quite often. Why don’t we see you ever in a Hindi project?

Nothing that exciting yet. So have not done Hindi projects.

Would you be open to doing character roles in Hindi or would you much rather stick to being the leading hero in Bengali cinema?

In Bengal also there are films where I have not been in the lead role and I have played interesting meaty characters but I am open to that part. If there is creative satisfaction anywhere then I would do that. There is no mandate that I have to do a lead role per se.

With OTT becoming a big thing, regional cinema is becoming big. How do you see this OTT boom in India? Are you getting better stories or better projects after the advent of OTT?

Around Covid time OTT took up a bigger space. Theatres were shut and people had nothing to do and OTT was one of the biggest recreation platforms entertaining people worldwide. OTT has had a boom ever since the lockdown and there are more stories and more ideas now on OTT and there are a lot of talent getting into the profession now. I don’t know if due to OTT things are getting better because television was also before that. OTT is an extended premium version of television and there is another avenue now so good for people to create more content.

You’ve been in the Bengali film industry for decades. If given an opportunity, what’s the one thing that you would like to change in the way the Bengali film industry works?

I don’t want to change much but add a few things to the Bangla industry and that’s what I am trying to do now. Cinema per se, if I can add anything from my side.

You promoted ‘Chengiz’ in Mumbai as well. How different is the movie-making or movie-promotion culture in Mumbai than it is from Kolkata?

I didn’t feel much of a difference. There are different faces in Bengal. Most of the regulars we come across during releases. This time there were a lot of new faces for us. We went to Delhi, Noida, Lucknow, Jaipur, and Mumbai and we got a very warm response. There was a paparazzi culture that we don’t get to see much in Kolkata but here in Mumbai, we got to see.

‘Chengiz’ was probably the biggest release of this year coming from Bengali cinema. You had a lot of knife-fighting scenes as well in the film. Did you have to specially train for that as well?

Yes. There was knife fighting designed by our stunt master, Stun Silva action master. When he told me it was just about two days before the shoot. Earlier we had designed it differently but then he came in with this idea. He got those knives to me two days before the shoot and I practiced it for a while. After some time, I was in sync with that.

The story was by Neeraj Pandey, who is one of the biggest filmmakers in India. Did you get to have constant conversations with him about how the character would pan out? Or was he just involved with the story idea and later on it was developed by others?

Rajesh Ganguly wrote the first draft and we liked the entire thing and the way ‘Chengiz’ and Jaydev Singh had shaped up. There was a bit of structure we thought could be a little different so we spoke to Neeraj Pandey. We have a good bond with each other and have known each other for quite some time and have worked in the past also. He flew to Kolkata and had a meeting and the entire narration and he noted down some points and called Raja to Mumbai and they had 4-5 days of discussion over the script and they structured it down.

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This was one of the very few Pan-India releases of a Bengali movie. What has stopped Bengali cinema from having such grand pan-India releases, like a lot of South-Indian films have been doing since the past decade?

We have been trying from the Bengal industry to reach a wider audience. The primary aspiration is to reach wider audiences, cut through those boundaries and reach as many people as possible. However, it takes time and thankfully it had to happen this way through ‘Chengiz’ and we feel good and proud that we are part of ‘Chengiz’ which was the first Bengali film that had a simultaneous Hindi release as well.

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