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Biswajit Chatterjee: The evergreen tinsel star of all seasons

18 February, 2021 11:14:12
Biswajit Chatterjee:  The evergreen tinsel star of all seasons

The sun may have set on his stardom long back, but the 84-year-old Biswajit Chatterjee is still remembered for the effervescent, romantic roles he played in both Tollywood and Bollywood during 1960s. Old timers can vividly recollect Biswajit’s acting prowess as the sweet chocolate- boy romantic hero, serenading the divinely-gorgeous actresses Asha Parekh, Waheeda Rehman, Mumtaz, Mala Sinha and Rajshree on screen. Biswajit Chatterjee (known mostly as Biswajit) had a vast pan-Indian fan following during his prime especially among females who would swoon every time his lips parted into a mesmerizing smile that lighted up the entire screen.

Biswajit Chatterjee is still remembered for the effervescent, romantic roles he played in both Tollywood and Bollywood during 1960s. Old timers can vividly recollect Biswajit’s acting prowess as the sweet chocolate- boy romantic hero, serenading the divinely-gorgeous actresses Asha Parekh, Waheeda Rehman, Mumtaz, Mala Sinha and Rajshree on screen.

Born in Calcutta on December 14, 1936, since childhood, he had a natural flair for acting and could sing very well. His father was in the Army and was a strict disciplinarian who never encouraged his son’s histrionics. Biswajit lost his mother very early in life and was forced to accompany his father to different parts of the country wherever he was posted. As he grew older, he had only one dream -- acting in movies. He secretly joined a local theatre group and did odd jobs and in lieu would be offered small, peripheral roles in plays. The arrangement suited him well but one day he was caught unaware by his father who wanted him to go to Army residential school in Dehradun. Biswajit refused and his father literally threw him out of the house. Undeterred, Biswajit continued to work at Rangmahal Theatre. This was a tough time for a youth who, till then, had lived amid luxury. He rented a shared room in a small, dingy mess and even had to go without food for several nights to pursue his dream. 

Biswajit Chatterjee

Finally, in 1958, he got his break in Bengali film Kangsha, where he essayed the role of Krishna. After this, there was no looking back for this handsome hero. Daak Harkaraa (1959), Natun Fasal (1960), Maya Mriga (1960), Kathin Maya (1961), Dui Bhai (1961, with Uttam Kumar), Naba Diganta , Badhu (as the younger brother of Basanta Chaudhuri), Sesh Paryanta, Dhoop Chhaya and Dada Thakur (1962) all super hit films in a row. 

Biswajit was not a man to sit on his laurels and looked westward for newer avenues. He relocated to Mumbai (then Bombay) and made his Bollywood debut with Bees Saal Baad (1962), and the rest, as they say, is history. It wasn’t easy for a regional actor to find a footing in the industry dominated by stars like Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand.

During this time, he would also participate in radio plays. He worked with the doyen of Bengali theatre, Tripti Mitra in Saheb Bibi Golam, based on Bimal Mitra’s iconic novel of the same name. When Guru Dutt heard the play, he immediately contacted Biswajit and invited him to Bombay, planning to make a film based on the novel and offer the protagonist’s role to Biswajit. The project never took off, but it offered him an opportunity to explore uncharted territory in Bollywood.

A poster of the film Dui Bhai

Biswajit was not a man to sit on his laurels and looked westward for newer avenues. He relocated to Mumbai (then Bombay) and made his Bollywood debut with Bees Saal Baad (1962), and the rest, as they say, is history. It wasn’t easy for a regional actor to find a footing in the industry dominated by stars like Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand. However, his very first film became a blockbuster. Subodh Mukherjee’s film Junglee with Shammi Kapoor was a super-duper hit but in his next project, Mukherjee offered Biswajit a role in his film, April Fool (1964) opposite Saira Banu. 

Between acting in Bollywood, Biswajit returned to Calcutta to act in Bengali films as well. Among them were blockbusters including Chowringhee (1968) and Garh Nasimpur, both with Uttam Kumar. Then came Kuheli, Jai Baba Taraknath (1977) and Amar Geeti (1983). In 1975, Biswajit produced and directed his own film, Kahte Hai Mujhko Raja. Apart from acting and direction, he has also been a singer and a producer. In the 1970s, he cut a disc of two Bengali modern numbers, Tomar Chokher Kajole and Jay Jay Din, both composed by Salil Choudhury.

Kajra Mohabbat Wala, the popular 60s song from the movie Kismat where Biswajit Chatterjee played a cameo

Coming from theatre background, Biswajit has always experimented with different types of characters and looks. He never let himself be typecast and was bold enough to shed his star image and depict characters with dark shades in movies. In fact, Biswajit was amongst the first actors to play a woman’s character in the famous song Kajra mohabbat wala and was a trendsetter. After the song became a hit, everyone from Shammi Kapoor to Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor and later Govinda and now Varun Dhawan, Ranbir Kapoor have played female characters.  
 

Story Tag:
  • Biswajit Chatterjee, Actor

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