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Yash Dasgupta: “I Want To Bridge The Commercial And The Sensible”

Yash Dasgupta started his career with Hindi television soaps but he had always dreamt of working in the film industry. With his eye firmly on his goal, Dasgupta shifted his focus to Bengali cinema and made his debut with Gangster last year. Right now, he is basking in rave reviews for his second outing in Bengali cinema, One, where he shares screen space with Tollywood superstar Prosenjit Chatterjee. In a candid interview with Sayali Parab, Dasgupta shares his journey from television to movies and he also talks about his recent release, One

From Hindi soaps to Bengali serials, to playing the lead in Bengali films… how would you define your journey?

I initially lived with my parents in Mumbai and I worked in television but I grew saturated with TV and wanted to get into films. But it’s pretty tough to crack a deal in Mumbai because there are star kids who are already booked for films. It was tough to break into that zone so I checked out the regional market here in Calcutta. Later, I got a call from Star TV and SVF Entertainment for a television show but since I was already doing television in Mumbai, I was not really keen on doing the show. But they told me that if I first did the show with them, then they would do a film with me. I agreed and that’s how I started my journey.

 Was acting always on the cards?

Actually, no. There was a time when I used to love looking at myself in the mirror and when it came to getting dressed and ready, I used to take an age. People used to constantly ask me to focus on my studies but I made it a point to take part in extracurricular activities when I was in school. I used to take part in plays and I didn’t care about the actual role I played as long as I could act on stage. In time, I realised that this was my passion and that I should focus on it. It wasn’t easy to convince my dad but I had made up my mind that I wanted to act.

 How difficult was it to find a foothold in the film industry, especially when you have no godfathers here?

I didn’t have to really struggle in Calcutta but it was tough in Mumbai, initially. There were times we had to leave our portfolios with the security guards at some production houses, and when that happened, I knew I didn’t stand a chance. Later, I landed a role in a serial, or so I thought. My character had been referred to as ‘boy one’ and ‘boy two’ in the script, so when I asked about my character on the sets, I realised I had been cast as an extra! It wasn’t the role they had promised me.

Then, I gave audition after audition before I realised that, usually, it’s an exercise in futility, especially the auditions where you queue up with hundreds of other hopefuls. The only auditions that count are the ones where you are assessed by four to five serious people. It took me a really long time to understand how things worked.

I started my career in 2006 and I finally got a break through a Doordarshan show. I got this break because of my sheer dedication. That was the year Mumbai was flooded with heavy rains and they were planning to call off the audition but I still made it.

Then I did another show with Sagar Arts, Mahima Shani Dev Ki, where I played Krishna. During that time, I built a rapport with Sagar Arts and they offered me Basera, which was a big-budget show with Ram Kapoor. I played his son and the antagonist but the show was shelved in six months. Later, Ram Kapoor mentioned me to Ekta Kapoor and that’s how Bandini happened. I quit the show because the serial was taking a leap and I wasn’t ready to play a father’s role. After that, I did Na Aana Is Des Laado and Adaalat. That’s how I got in.

 You have received good reviews for your recent screen outing, One. How did the film come your way and how did you prepare for your role?

They say your first film chooses you and, after that, you choose your films. But, in my case, the opposite is true because I chose my first film, Gangster. The script of this film had been written by my friends and Shrikant bhaiya (Shrikant Mohta) approved it. But with One, Shrikant bhaiya asked me to do it. Initially, I didn’t know what to say, it’s not like I didn’t want to do this film but I was not sure whether or not the character would work because I wanted to play Aditya Singh (played by Prosenjit).

So I asked Shrikant bhaiya and he said, ‘Play the hero. This is just your second film and you shouldn’t be playing a negative role now.’ So, based on his conviction, I took up the role and now I am receiving good reviews. I am overwhelmed with the response from my fans.

 Since this is just the beginning of your film career, what parameters do you consider before taking up a role?

When I see Bollywood, meaning the typical masala entertainment films, the Bengali audience do watch those films. But they have a different perception of Bengali commercial films. They are, like, ‘This is nonsense, they don’t make any sense.’ I want to change that perception and that’s really tough. There are two genres – commercial and parallel. Parallel films are for intellectual, city guys. I want to bridge that gap and come up with something that is commercial and sensible too, like One

 What kinds of scripts excite you?

There are many films and scripts I wish to do. But it is really tough to figure out scripts because they often look good on paper but not on screen. Having said that, I have Shrikant bhaiya to guide me. Maybe I will do a romantic film next time.

 Are you planning to work in Bollywood?

I need to sort myself out here first. The Bengali industry has given me a lot and the people too have given me a lot of love. I would love to stay here. Also, this is what I have learnt from Bumba da… He had many offers from Bollywood, including Maine Pyaar Kiya and Saajan, but he refused all of them to work here and change the industry here.

Have you signed any film after One?

I will be taking a break and going to Thailand to clear my mind. This is what I do after doing a film. I did the same after Gangster too. I will come back and think about what to do next. It’s very tough to clear your mind so I need a break. After One, I think my next film will also be with Birsa Dasgupta.

 Is there any opinion you wish to put forth?

I would like to make a request to the audience, who has lost faith in us. They need to trust that we are trying our level best to cater to them. We are doing it for them and they should also support us. I notice that, in Bengal, people are very critical about remakes. I don’t understand why people crib about remakes because everybody is doing remakes, Hollywood too. Even Bollywood is into remakes. I don’t see why there should be a problem with remakes. There is nothing original in this world. Every idea has already been done before. So what’s the big deal? It’s time for us to work together if we want to grow.

 Lastly, how would you define your association with SVF Entertainment?

I have a different kind of relationship with them. It’s more personal than professional because I rely on them a lot. Even when I am working with someone else, even commercials, I consult Mahendra Soni about how much I should quote and what time should I give them etc. I have such a rapport with them that I had a contract with them just for the sake of it, after Gangster released and I started my second film. They trust that I am not going to ditch them if another producer approaches me. It’s personal and that is how we work. We have a family kind of relationship. 

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