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Actor Jeetu Kamal on becoming Satyajit Ray in ‘Aparajito’

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Actor Jeetu Kamal, who is playing cine maestro Satyajit Ray in the upcoming ‘Aparajito’ based on his journey of making the iconic film ‘Pather Panchali’, says the uncanny physical similarity made him feel he was born to play Ray on-screen.

As the film has already had its India premiere at the Satyajit Ray Film Festival and is now approaching its theatrical release, Jeetu is feeling enormous pressure since the expectations are high.

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In a conversation, the young actor opens up on the gamut of emotions he went through during the making of the film.

Recalling the first photoshoot he did as part of a look test, Jeetu said, “the firt day of shooting was quite hectic for me so I did not use my brain much. I was given clothes, our makeup artist did the makeup and I was asked to pose following the reference pictures of Mr Ray that I was shown earlier. I did that and rushed for my next assignment that day. I came back home around 11 at night when Anik da texted me and asked to check some photographs but only on the big screen and not on phone.”

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The next thing that happened was the most surprising and shocking for Jeetu.

“I checked my email and downloaded a series of black and white pictures. When I saw it, I was like, why Anik da is sending me these old pictures of Ray, I have already seen them! So I called him and conveyed the same. He replied to me on call, ‘You idiot! that’s you, looking like Mr Ray. You passed the look test!’ I still remember the gooseflesh all over my body and the sensation I felt when I looked at those pictures closely again! I was born to play Mr Ray on-screen!” said Jeetu.

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The most difficult part though, Jeetu said was to play Ray without mocking him.

on becoming “That baritone voice, that body language, his unique way of talking, his mannerisms, I had to incorporate everything in my performance, without mocking him. That was the biggest challenge. Now, only the audience can say if I did justice to that opportunity,” said Jeetu.

The story of the film revolves around the struggle Ray went through during the making of his debut film ‘Pather Panchali’.

While all film connoisseurs are well-versed with the work of Ray, Jeetu explained how playing the filmmaker on-screen changed him as an artiste.

“You see his struggle was not a regular struggle of a filmmaker to find a producer for making a new film. He was creating almost a new genre, with new actors, he was a debutant filmmaker and there was no encouragement in making such films at all, rejection and obstacles always break our heart but the making of ‘Pather Panchali’ was like a battle that he and his crew fought.”

“Now, when I, as an actor face any rejection during an audition or face any obstacles in my journey as a performer, I look at his journey. In my head, I win half of the battle. Playing Mr Ray made me a stronger artiste,” said Jeetu.

Like any regular child, Jeetu grew up in a Bengali household, even though he watched Ray’s films since childhood, eventually he understood how film and filmmakers become the voice of changing times in society.

“I was a regular child who would wish for Bhuter Raja, my favourite was ‘Gupi Bagha Phire Elo’, ‘Hirak Rajar Deshe’ initially. Eventually, ‘Ashani Shanket’, ‘Mahanagar’, ‘Devi’ and all those films that were the reflection of that time – became my favourite films. Even though I am not too vocal on my political opinion, I am trying to make my film choices for the future that reflects,” shared the actor.

‘Aparajito’ directed by Anik Datta, music by Debojyoti Mishra, also featuring – Saayoni Ghosh, Paran Bandopadhyay among others – releases in theatres on May 13.

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