For someone who had naxal leanings, a career in acting was something that hardly ever crossed Mithun Chakraborty’s mind. Early life, he had a revolutionary zeal that helped him escape various threats to his existence A boy, who grew up as Gouranga in Jorabagan in Kolkata, created a niche in the Hindi film industry and was famously crowned as `Disco Dancer`. Mithun Chakraborty (as the world knows him) and Mithun da as I fondly call him, in all respects is a man of principles and his life is an inspiration to one and all.
Going back in time as to how he began his struggle in Mumbai, Mithun stayed in modest accommodations as a paying guest. He paid Rs 75 as rent. Since he was not in a position to pay anymore money, he was never allowed to use the cot in the room. His room mate, who hailed from down South never let him sleep on the cot. Surprisingly, this room mate of his was his inspiration behind the song <i>‘I am Krishnan Iyer MA, I am nariyal pani wala’</i> from the film ‘Agneepath’.
Once as Mithun was fast asleep on the floor, a rat bit his toe and he started bleeding profusely. He had to walk miles the following day to reach a recording studio in Sion.
But can you believe it? Mithun da, who was then just a struggler as per the Bollywood standard, had already won a National Award for his performance in Mrinal Sen’s offbeat Bengali cinema ‘Mrigaya’, his debut film!
Despite being a National Award winner, Mithun had to face lots of challenges that eventually shaped him as a thorough gentleman. He took membership in Matunga Gymkhana so that he could take bath there. And he survived on <i>Bangda Fry</i> for days that were cheaply available (for Re 1/plate) in Mumbai’s (then Bombay) roadside eating joints.
He is certainly not one of those actors who would do films to grab limelight. He has done limited yet substantial roles in mainstream Bollywood films that are class apart. Be it his terrifying villainous performance as Amavas /Vijay Bahadur in ‘Jallad’ or his comic role as Krishnan Iyer MA in ‘Agneepath’, Mithun da has essayed a variety of roles.
He loves to remain low key. He is also very unlike his contemporaries like Amitabh Bachchan or Jeetendra. He has also worked in films produced by second-rated banners only to earn extra money to help the poor. And I stand witness to his philanthropic activities as I have seen him personally donating food to the poor and needy.
Mithun da married actress Yogita Bali, who quit films post marriage to take charge of her role as a homemaker. His sons Mimoh, Rimoh, Namashi and daughter Dishani complete his family. Not many people know that Mithun da had adopted his daughter who was abandoned by her biological parents in garbage in the outskirts of Kolkata. And she will inherit equal share of his wealth along with her brothers. Such is the greatness of this magnanimous personality.
The 65 old star, who is now a regular feature on Zee TV’s popular reality show ‘Dance India Dance’ has donned the cap of the Grand Master. His presence not only boosts the morale of the participants, but also encourages them to do better in life. He teaches them basic principles and gives them a direction to lead their life. He leaves people in awe by his simplicity. The famous words that he has coined to say how impressed he is with their dance performances ‘Kya Baat Kya Baat Kya Baat’ have now become a commonly used jargon.
The veteran star has 3 National Awards, 2 Filmfare Awards and many more accolades to his credit. But unfortunately, he is one of the most under-rated actors in the industry. It saddens me very much when he rarely finds a mention in the list of best actors Bollywood has ever produced. Perhaps, his stature as an individual is far greater than an actor. Nonetheless, he is someone I always like admiring for he is humility personified.
Very few dreams do I chase and one among them is to meet this noble celebrity once in my life time.
<i>(Mithun Chakraborty celebrates his birthday on 16th June)</i>
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