Mumbai: Mithun Chakraborty danced his way to the audience’s hearts in the 80s, but at the peak of his career, the actor says he found himself grappling with the reality that fame not only brought legions of fans but also crushing loneliness.
Chakraborty started his acting journey with filmmaker Mrinal Sen’s National Award winning 1976 drama “Mrigayaa”. It was the 1979 spy thriller “Surakshaa” that laid the grounds for his stardom in the 80s with blockbusters like “Disco Dancer”, “Dance Dance”, “Pyar Jhukta Nahin”, “Kasam Paida Karne Wale Ki” and “Commando” among others.
These were the busy years for the actor who headlined more than 100 films in the decade, often juggling four movie shoots a day. Fans gave him the moniker of ‘Dancing Star’ and ‘Disco Dancer’.
“I had never imagined that I would become a superstar. But, when I did become the number one star of the country, I found that it was… Oh my God, an extremely lonely place. It is really, very, very lonely. You are all alone there. It was lonely because everybody thought I was beyond their reach, I was unattainable,” the actor told PTI.
As Chakraborty grew in stature, so did the myth of his stardom, which started invading his personal space.
The actor said he lived with the puzzling reality of showbiz: he was the most wanted star but everyone was too apprehensive to even talk to him.
“They would say ‘Stay away from dada, he has become too big’. My friends would also be scared of me. It was a very weird atmosphere. I would wake up, go to shoot, come back and be lonely, while being the biggest star, the hottest selling star of the country. Main ek bohot akela aadmi ho gaya tha (I had become a very lonely man). But this is part of life too,” he added.
In the 90s, when Bollywood turned to urban, larger than life romances, slowly letting go off the 80s masala films-led popular by him and Jeetendra with ample support by late music composer Bappi Lahiri’s chartbuster tunes-Chakraborty still had nearly 100 releases.
According to the actor, the key to sustaining stardom is to not only be a good actor but also a wonderful human being.
If an actor is not a good person, Chakraborty said the fame will “vanish in a heartbeat”.
“There is no survival without talent. Only your talent can take you ahead, if you have it, you will make it. No one in the world can stop you. A good actor, who is a bad human being, will have a short life. A bad actor, who is a bad human being, will have no life. A good actor, who is a good human being, will have a long life.
“The only magic to hold on to stardom for so long is that a good actor, who is also a good man, will live for long. Your superstardom will vanish in a heartbeat if you are not a good person. Karma will just wait for the right time, no one can escape that,” he added.
The multiple National Award winning actor juggled both Bollywood and Bengali films and eventually made his debut on the small screen towards the end of the 2000s.
He has now made his digital debut with Prime Video’s psychological thriller series “Bestseller”.
The show, inspired by Ravi Subramanian’s novel “The Bestseller She Wrote”, features him as assistant commissioner of police Lokesh Pramanik.
Chakraborty said today, he accepts only those projects that leave him thinking long after he has finished reading the script.
“It has to pinch or tickle me. Once I have read the script and if it hits me, I think I am on the right part. ‘Bestseller’ was one of those. My character in it is funny, unpredictable and sometimes even ruthless,” he added.
The actor said his shift to OTT was fueled by the need to keep up with the times. If even today he expects to play a disco dancer, he would be “foolish”, Chakraborty said.
“I want to go with the time, not swim against the tide. If I think I’m still a Disco Dancer, I’ll be foolish. So I have to think what kind of roles will suit me now, and the one I can do effortlessly. If OTT is the current time, then I’ll have to mould myself like that”.
Backed by filmmaker Siddharth Malhotra’s Alchemy Production LLP and directed by Mukul Abhyankar,
“Bestseller” also stars Shruti Haasan, Arjan Bajwa, Gauahar Khan, Satyajeet Dubey and Sonalee Kulkarni.
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