No crisis bogged Basu Chatterjee down, he’d find solutions with smile: ‘Byomkesh’ star Rajit Kapur

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Updated: Jun 04, 2020 5:51 PM

Chatterjee, known for his relatable, light-hearted brand of cinema with films such as "Rajnigandha" and "Chitchor", died on Thursday following age related health issues. He was 93.

Basu Chatterjee, Basu Chatterjee death, Rajit Kapur, Byomkesh Bakshi,Rajnigandha,Chitchor, Doordarshan , Basu Chatterjee death, latest news on Basu ChatterjeeThe reason behind the popularity of the series, Kapur explained, was that even though the show was about a detective, it had the trademark simplicity one would associate with a Chatterjee film. (IE photo)

Actor Rajit Kapur describes the first narration for the hit detective series “Byomkesh Bakshi” by Basu Chatterjee as “brief”, but the experience of working with the director on the show left him with an everlasting lesson: to always retain simplicity.

Chatterjee, known for his relatable, light-hearted brand of cinema with films such as “Rajnigandha” and “Chitchor”, died on Thursday following age related health issues. He was 93.

Kapur played the titular role on the 1993 Doordarshan series “Byomkesh Bakshi”, directed by Chatterjee.

Calling Chatterjee a “sharp mind”, the actor said, “The man had a great sense of humour. He was not somebody to be bogged down by crisis or problems. He was extremely practical and always knew he’d find a solution.”

“Never grudgingly but with a smile. When you’re shooting, there are problems everyday but he’d say ‘if not A, let’s look at B, if not that, then C’,” Kapur told PTI in an interview.

The actor described Chatterjee as someone who kept crossing hurdles one after the other, never stopping, and rarely sad.  “That attitude kept him going. He’d look for solutions and I’ve learnt that kind of practical approach from him. That’s the approach he applied to his work.”

Though “Byomkesh Bakshi”, based on the character created by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay, saw many versions, including a Bollywood film by Dibakar Banerjee, the TV series is often credited as one of the best adaptations of the character on screen.

The reason behind the popularity of the series, Kapur explained, was that even though the show was about a detective, it had the trademark simplicity one would associate with a Chatterjee film.

“He had an extremely simple, basic approach with no frills attached. He’d straight get to the point, which was reflective to the kind of person he was: honest. If something wasn’t working, he’d tell. He was a very no nonsense person.

“That simplicity is seen in his work, be it ‘Rajnigandha’, ‘Chhoti Si Baat’ or even a detective series like ‘Byomkesh.'”
The actor said his colleagues from the series “Yugantar” suggested his name to the filmmaker for the titular role.
When a meeting was fixed with Chatterjee, the “Raazi” actor recalled that the filmmaker offered him the part instantly.

“We met and within 10 minutes he told me ‘I want you to play this.’ We shot the series as a film, we went location wise and focused on the first 20 episodes. In those, we shot all Byomkesh’s scene of his house in Versova, then we went to another important location. That’s how he had planned it.”

Kapur said what always remained true for the filmmaker was his ability to “go beyond” in chronicling stories.

“Simplicity as an approach was part of his creative work. He would always look for the core. Many filmmakers today ignore that and talk about the periphery, the frills. But he never let it go. The simplicity, the core always remained,” he added.

Chatterjee also has shows such as Priya Tendulkar-starrer “Rajani”, political satire “Kakaji Kahin”, based on well-known author Manohar Shyam Joshi novel “Netaji Kahin” and starring Om Puri, and TV film “Ek Ruka Hua Faisla”, a courtroom drama which was a remake of the Henry Fonda-starrer “12 Angry Men”.

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