When he made his Bollywood debut in the 2001 hit `Tum Bin`, he made many hearts across the nation skip a beat with his to-die-for looks. And that charm continues to remain intact till date. Priyanshu Chatterjee is an actor of an endearing and grounded demeanour with looks that could kill. After proving his acting prowess in several Hindi films and award-winning Bengali films in a span of a decade and half, the 39-year-old actor is gearing up for the release of his latest Hindi film `Rajdhani Express` which hits the big screen on January 4, 2012.
Resham Sengar of Zeenews.com caught up with the charming actor to know more about his newest offering and more.
Why were the audiences and your fans unable to see more of you in Hindi films during the last few years?
The audiences have not seen me probably because the films did not do well and also they did not have the kind of releases they should have had. I think the last film they saw was `Bhootnath` and after that there was a film called `Chintu ji` which too did not do well but it was a good satirical film. Then I did another film called `Rajdhani Express` which is going to release now. But I have also done a lot of regional and international films like a South African film, a Punjabi film and 12 Bengali films. So work has gone on although I have not done out and out big commercial cinema which is rated very well in our country. There were offers to do `Tum Bin 2` and `Tum Bin 3` but then it would have been the same kind of franchise films which I think limit an actor. And I am not from a film family. So my focus has always been on growth as an actor. I hope that you will see that in `Rajdhani Express`.
How did `Rajdhani Express` come your way? Since you are very selective about the projects you take up, what made you work in this multi-starrer assignment?
`Rajdhani Express` for me happened a year and half back when Mr Kohli, the director, came to me with an offer to do this role. So, as an actor I am always looking for good work. And I thought that it was an interesting film because it’s an unconventional film about a train getting hijacked on its way to Mumbai from Delhi. Instead of a 17-hour journey it becomes almost a 64-hour long journey in the film. The movie also talks about casteism and how one tends to look down upon people who are not wearing good clothes etc. In the train, also there is a guy and everyone on board the train wonders how come he is traveling in an a/c compartment and it is this guy who turns around and delivers a blow to the movie`s characters. The film forces one to think about how the society views the common populace which is not so well-off.
Please brief us about your role in `Rajdhani Express`.
My character is BC Bannerjee who is a writer. He writes Bollwood scripts and thinks of himself as very intellectual, but in reality he is very shallow. Most of his stuff is stolen from here and there. So, it was very interesting to play a role that shows how the writers work in our country and how we are influenced by the Hollywood, but actually we overlook the unexplored subjects in our own country. So, Bannerjee`s attitude is very nice but in reality he is a maha fattoo. I found this character very interesting.
So you don`t care about running in the Bollywood rat race?
Oh no, never. Thank God I have never thought about that. And it’s never about how big a star you are. It’s about serving the film and serving the director and I believe a good subject deserves to be served. If I am cast as an actor and paid my fee, I should do my job and go home. Post that it’s not my responsibility.
How was it working with your co-actors Leander Paes – a newcomer - and Jimmy Shergill, who`s quite a veteran like you?
Leander and I knew each other since the time he was dating Mahima (Chaudhary). So we had a nice rapport and it was like `hey Priyanshu` and `hey Leander` kind of thing. But his tennis star stature was very overpowering because tennis stars are bigger than movie stars. They are very global. And I am a huge tennis fan and love playing the game for my own amusement. But things turned out very well with Leander when we began working together. Since he has never faced the camera before, so it was a little daunting for him but I think eventually he understood and he is an intelligent guy. So it was fun because off the camera he would ask me whether he is working fine. Overall, I had a great time working with him because he is a great guy. Jimmy and me don`t have any talking scenes together in the film because I am one of the hijacked passengers on the train and Jimmy is the one who is dealing with it from outside. But he is an accomplished actor in his own right and he has added so much value to the film. I am yet to see the final product and am hoping to see it after the film’s release.
You seem to be quite detached from the glamour of filmdom. You have this good boy image who does not party and has never been caught in any controversy. Any comments.
Is that bad? Detachment in the sense that I can’t be going to every party, showing my face, talking to the press and telling them what I am wearing to the bathroom or where I eat. I would rather see a purpose to that. I would rather talk about what work I am doing because there are too many of us out there already. Everybody I meet is a star. In Bombay it is crazy and even TV has become so big that there are just too many stars and there is too much greed for that little space on the newspaper. And I don`t think if that is really a good thing to do as an actor. Because then an unnecessary ego gets created when one gets undue publicity. If it is truly deserved like if someone has won a National award or has done a good film, then it is fine. But I don`t see any purpose to be a socialite unnecessarily.
Can we hope to see more of you in Hindi films in the days to come?
I hope that happens. `Main Rony aur Jony` is releasing in February 2012 and then there is `Rajdhani Express` too. It is really not up to me. It is more about a book finding its reader. It is not the reader who finds the book. When the time is right, my film that has to come will come.
Would you like to act for the rest of your life or do you have a Plan B?
There is no Plan B. I love to act and I enjoy what I do. So right now I think that I am going to continue doing it.
Is there a special someone in your life? When can we see you embracing wedlock?
No, I am not seeing anyone and my family has been asking me the same question for the last five years. And I keep trying to duck the question. But if I find someone I would look forward to settling with her.