By Subhash K Jha
BOLLYWOOD: Mithun Chakraborty, who has been elected to the Rajya Sabha by his ‘Didi’ Mamta Bannerjee discusses future plans with Subhash K Jha
Mithunda, are you formally entering into politics?
I can’t say that at all. You know me for so many years. Do I have the traits of a politician? No. This Rajya Sabha nomination is more for Didi (Mamta Bannerjee) than myself. I don’t know if you know this. But ten years ago, she had offered me a Rajya Sabha seat. At that time I had to say no to her because I just didn’t have the time. Out of 365 days I was working for 465 says (laughs). That didn’t seem like the right time to take up such a big responsibility.
So you see the Rajya Sabha nomination as a big responsibility?
Of course! I’m being given the job of looking after the welfare of people. A Rajya Sabha nomination should not be treated as ornamental. In any case I don’t take on any responsibility halfheartedly. I either do it with full sincerity, or not at all.
What made you change your mind about Mamta’s offer this time?
I told her to think it over, whether I’m capable of handling it or not. She told me to fill the Rajya Sabha papers while she thought it over. I did all the formalities. Then after Suchitra Sen’s death I was in Kolkata. That’s when Didi told me that she had made up her mind about my capability. But do you know how I got to know I was elected for the Rajya Sabha?
I was waiting at the airport waiting for my flight back to Kolkata when my daughter called to say Didi had already announced my nomination on Facebook.
Mithunda, do you feel that now your life taken a swing away from acting?
Well, I’d like to say one thing very clearly. I am now two people. One is an actor, and I’ll never quit being an actor. As long as I get good roles I’ll do them. If I take on bad roles my fans would be deeply offended. I’ve to play characters that justify my presence.
And who is the other person that you’ve become now?
Yes, the second Mithun Chakraborty is the man who has been given this responsibility by Didi. Just as the characters I play have to justify my presence I’ve to make sure my role in the Rajya Sabha is not a let-down.I am no stranger to social causes. For the last twenty years I’ve been the chairperson of the Mazdoor Union. I am also the president of the Artistes Union, etc. In Bengal, I’m the vice-chairman of the artistes’ forum. I always fought for the down-trodden and the under-privileged. I’ll continue to do so.
In addition you have your own charitable trust?
Yes, how do you know about it? You know me. I like to keep these things quiet. I have a trust which has educated 3,500 students, most of them girls. I fund the trust from the paid public appearances I make, cutting ribbons,etc. I do these things only so my trust can carry on with its endeavour. I’ve never spoken about this.
So the Rajya Sabha seat gives you more scope for charitable work?
Yes, I want to carry my responsibility as a citizen forward by using the money that I get as a Rajya Sabha member to help the needy. I want to use the Rajya Sabha funds for the collective good. Pehle toh bahot paisa kamata ttha toh bahot logon ki madad karta ttha. Ab kam kamata hoon to kam logon ki madad karta hoon. I want to make sure that the funds from the Rajya Sabha are put to optimum use. I will speak to Didi about this.
Would you now cut down on your television appearances as reality-show judge?
No no. I remain committed to that. My fans want to see me on television.I can’t let them down. Just as I’ve balanced many of my obligations in the past I’ll add the Rajya Sabha to my many duties. Like I said, I am two Mithun Chakrabortys now.
Which films are we going to see you in this year?
Subhash Ghai’s Kanchi is coming. Then I’ve It’s Entertainment with Akshay Kumar. I’m also in Sajid Nadiadwala’s Kick.Then there’s a big film called Bombay Fairytale directed by Vibhu Puri. He’s brilliant. I am cast as Ayushmann’s mentor. Then I’m doing two Bengali films. Actually it seems like a crowd of films because some projects got delayed.
Mithunda, any final thoughts.
Pray that I continue to do good work. I’ve never asked anyone for any favours. I hope to remain honest to myself in anything I do in life.