TOLLYWOOD

SASWATA AND RAJATAVA TALK IT UP IN W THE RUN- UP TO ASHCHORJYO PRODEEP

What happens when an unassuming, middle- class, henpecked Bangali encounters a genie ( Rajatava Dutta) from a magic lamp? Well, his life changes drastically.

That's what happens to Anilabho ( Saswata Chatterjee) in Anik Dutta's Friday film Ashchorjyo Prodeep . t2 met the two actors and suggested a role reversal to get them going.... Saswata ( as the genie): I was here last night! You had rubbed the magic lamp.

Rajatava: Wear your shades; get into character! ( Saswata puts on his shades, and sings ' Ami genie goh genie tomarey, ki debo kini...' ) Have you thought of a look? Saswata: The genie comes in different looks but I feel that if the genie appeared as his true self, then people would get scared away! Aami ' saswata' beshe aschhi, ' anik' poth periye ashchhi.. . Saswata: So what can I do for you? Or what do you want to buy? Rajatava: I just wish for the success of Ashchorjyo Prodeep ! Saswata: You can't buy the success of the film, you have to earn it! What I can do is give the public some money so that they can buy tickets! Rajatava: You can get them excited.

You can dance and sing outside the theatres, coaxing everyone to come and watch the film! Saswata: I would give that responsibility to Mala Maal ( a model- turnedactress in the film played by Mumtaz Sorcar)! If she dances then more people will flock to the theatres! Rajatava, what if the genie wanted you to get a makeover? Saswata: I'm sure he would want more hair on his head! Rajatava: As an adolescent, I had experimented with my moustache and beard.

Saswata: He had experimented with sideburns! Rajatava: For a long time, I had long sideburns. By the way, I have never done windowshopping.

I never craved for clothes that are on display. That way I'm quite boring. In fact, my wife buys my clothes for me, tini utrey diyechhen ! Saswata: People say my dress sense has improved after marriage. I have never had a facial! I've never given makeovers a thought. I am not bothered by it.

Rajatava: I am seeing Saswata like this for many years.

Saswata: Bou- er haath dhore manush hoyechhi ( laughs). My friends in the industry tell me that I am wearing a decent pair of jeans and T- shirt only after marriage.

What sort of clothes did you wear before marriage? Rajatava: At least not branded stuff. Brand bhiti chhilo ! Our wives are really courageous. They can go anywhere and buy anything. We lacked that sort of courage.

What's your wildest makeover for a film? Rajatava: I shaved my head for Ashchorjyo Prodeep . I have never done this sort of a thing before. I had to do it to look the part.

Saswata: I remember Satyajit Ray's Nayak opening with Uttam Kumar combing his hair. If Ashchorjyo Prodeep had started with a scene showing Rajatava doing the same thing, then it would have been really funny! Rajatava: And whenever Apu ( Saswata) sees me in the poster with my broad neck, or amake boli dite ichhe kore ! Apu is such a brilliant actor that he doesn't need to get makeovers, while I have to put on wigs or shave my head to play a character! Saswata: But I got a makeover for Meghe Dhaka Tara and Rang Milanti . Anilabho is besotted with Mala Maal. Tell us about your female fans.... Saswata: I don't have many female fans! Rajatava: He has many. It's just that he doesn't keep a mobile phone, so we can't keep track of his fans.

Saswata: My female fans are the mashimas, kakimas and pishimas . Rajatava: Don't lie! I know all about your female fans ( laughs) . Saswata: Well, at one point of time I used to get frequent phone calls from a fan's mother who kept on insisting that I meet her daughter since she was such a big fan. But when the girl came to meet me at my home, I wasn't there. However, in her excitement she mistook my brother ( Subhadeep) for me, gave him flowers and went back happily, thinking that she had met me! And my brother doesn't look like me at all ( laughs) ! Rajatava: Since I play the villain, I don't have any female fans. Instead, I have male fans who like my swagger! Saswata, any gossip involving you and Tolly heroines? Saswata: No no, there's nothing! Rajatava: Of course there is with every heroine ( laughs out loud) . Rajatava seems to know a lot! Saswata: Rajatava wants me to get into trouble at home! Rajatava: But this is all history, it happened in the past. It has no connection with the present, they are all fictional characters, and if there is any resemblance to any person then we are not responsible! Saswata: When I was doing the serial Ek Akasher Niche , many people actually believed that actress Aditi Chatterjee and me were a pair since we were so convincing on screen. We would get letters.... Any controversies? Saswata: I started my career with a controversial scene, a bed scene with June in Roopkatha , my first serial. It was shot very aesthetically and at the end of the scene there's a shot that has me kicking the pillow off the bed.

And when my mother saw it, she asked me, ' Why were you wearing pyjamas in that scene?' So the controversy started at home only! Didn't you get nervous before doing such scenes? Rajatava: Apu was never restricted by such middle- class taboos.

Saswata: When I was in school, my father ( actor Subhendu Chatterjee), despite my mother's protests, took me to watch Kramer Vs Kramer , knowing fully well that there was nudity in the film. It was never a problem at home. When I went to watch The Great Gambler , my mother had commented, ' Oh, you are going to watch Zeenat Aman!' People might enjoy watching a rog- roge ( steamy) scene, but to act it out is one of the most difficult tasks. It can be really stressful.

Rajatava: Actors can get really tense during such scenes, because they are exposing such vulnerable areas that they never thought they would have to. It's emotionally draining.

Saswata: There's an actress in Tollywood who recommends my name to the director if there is a kissing scene. She won't do such scenes with newcomers. Maybe she is not comfortable with others.... These things become important.

One needs to have faith, trust and respect for the co- actor when you are doing such scenes.

Both of you have been working together for a long time... Saswata: We go back a long way. We are friends, we are really comfortable with each other. We always try to make the scene perfect and complement each other. There's so much transparency between us.

Any funny incidents on the sets? Rajatava: Before shaving my head, I was quite scared. I have only a few strands of hair left, and I kept thinking maybe they won't grow back. I even persuaded Anik to get an expensive look test for me. Also, when filming the scenes I have noticed that Anik doesn't say ' cut'. Maybe I'm improvising, or reacting, or trying out a few lines with my coactor during a shot, and I hear him discussing the scene with his cinematographer. There was one scene at the crack of dawn in the Lakes where I am jogging. I meet Saswata, exchange a few words and resume running, and go out of the frame. I do my scene, and continue running, but I don't hear him say ' cut'. So I keep on running and running and running, not knowing how much he will keep in the scene.

And I am wondering how long is the shot?! By the time I stop, and look back, I see that the unit has left the shooting zone ( doubles over laughing) ! Maybe they thought I'll just run back home! We had a lot of fun on the sets.... Saswata: Never say that! Never say you had fun on the sets! The director might feel we had gone there for a picnic! ( Laughs) How is Anik on the sets? Rajatava: Tension dito ! And he feels that if he shouts a lot, then the unit members will be on their toes ( laughs). But Anik does that out of passion and sincerity.

Saswata: Onar ' anik' passion, ' anik' tension… and on days I didn't find him shouting, I would start shouting.

Rajatava: I would tell Anik, ' Don't shout, I get scared, I get nervous'. I am also a very pampered actor. But the best part about Anik is he doesn't have an ego. And if Anik hears you making fun of his shouting, he gets a kick out of it. He is like a kid.... Say, I have arrived on the sets and I find two or three people with the script in their hands telling me that Anik da would start shouting if I forget my lines. So I find them saying the lines in my ear… even when I am having tea, a cigarette or going to the toilet… or they would come out from between my legs or armpits, muttering my lines! It was so unnerving ( laughs) . They wanted to make sure that I remember my lines, but in the process I would forget things. Amar nerve khub dholdhole ! Arindam Chatterjee Picture: Anindya Shankar Ray RAJATAVA: I JUST WISH FOR THE SUCCESS OF ASHCHORJYO PRODEEP. SASWATA: I CAN GIVE THE PUBLIC SOME MONEY SO THAT THEY CAN BUY TICKETS! RAJATAVA: YOU CAN DANCE AND SING OUTSIDE THE THEATRES, COAXING EVERYONE TO COME AND WATCH IT! If you could be part of a film... Saswata: Satyajit Ray's Nayak or Aranyer Din Ratri , these are also two of my deserted island films.

If not an actor, then... Saswata: I would be a cricketer.

Rajatava: Singer! If you could direct a film... Saswata: I would do a comedy! Rajatava: I can't be a director, but I would love to give creative inputs.

Wish List Saswata Chatterjee as Anilabho and Rajatava Dutta as the genie in Anik Dutta's Friday film Ashchorjyo Prodeep