You are currently viewing Cinema Diaries with Satish Narayan: An Insightful Conversation with Namashi Chakraborty!

Cinema Diaries with Satish Narayan: An Insightful Conversation with Namashi Chakraborty!

Moderator Satish: Thank you so much Namashi for coming to our show.

Namashi Chakraborty: Thank you, Satish.

Satish: Actually, when I was giving the introduction, for a second I thought you were going to say hero instead of actor. Yes. So what does the word hero mean to you?

Namashi: I think we are filmy heroes. In real life, we are zero. We can do wonders on screen, but in real life, we are very normal people. So I am a screen hero. If you call me a hero, then call me a screen hero. Real-life heroes are our youth. Just consider us as screen heroes.

Satish: Mostly what happens is, I have seen, especially in Bollywood, people introduce with the word Bollywood, which I absolutely love. Absolutely.

Namashi: I think this word should be removed. Yes. This is the hero of our film, this is the heroine of our film.

Satish: I don’t understand, the people who work with them, 50 more people, what will you call them?

Namashi: Actually, the problem is, the problem of cinema all over the world, even if you look at Hollywood, the American film industry, even if you go to Europe, the actors, filmmakers, and producers get that respect. It’s very unfortunate. But what can we do? The actor comes in front of the camera, the story, the actors and actresses, so the cinematographers, the light men, as you can see here, these two guys are working so hard, trying to make us look handsome, which is very difficult for me. But actors like us, like you, through people, I think an awareness can be created that we should give respect to everyone. So this conversation, we don’t want to take it like an interview, and there is no interview. We must have talked a lot about your films, about your craft, about your performance.

Satish:  Overall, if I may say, we must have talked about your success. But today, I want to talk about your failures, your struggles, your hurdles. So let’s start, tell us about your education, your childhood. How was it for you?

Namashi: So my childhood was very colourful, because I was born in Mumbai, but when we were 2 years old, we shifted to Ooty at the end of 1994. Ooty. Because dad and mom started a hotel business, known as The Monarch. That business has been going on for the last 28-29 years. In Ooty. Ooty. It’s called The Monarch, it’s one of the top hotels. So we were born there, but we grew up in Ooty, and then in Coimbatore. So my education was in Tamil Nadu.

So I consider myself to be from Mumbai only, but I’m also from the South. So my studies, if I’m honest, I wasn’t that good in studies. I was very good in Maths. But my interest was in acting. So when there were plays in our school, there was Shakespeare, so I put my life into that. But in school, I was very, I would say, I was an under-confident kid. Because I was quite fat at that time. Now no matter how hard I try, I have to do it. And my mom is Punjabi, my dad is Bengali, my mom is half-Muslim. So eating and drinking was allowed in our house. But I was a lazy kid, I was an introvert, I used to get scared, I used to hesitate. So my dad said, to become an actor, first of all, you have to get rid of your hesitation. So slowly, I got rid of my hesitation, I got better. But the studies I did, I was a Cambridge student. I studied in the Monarch School of Cambridge. And my teacher told me, after the 10th exam, that you do one thing, you become an actor. So I thought, this is a compliment. So he said, this is not a compliment. He said, because you are not good in studies, so you become an actor. So I said, let’s take the advice of the teacher. So in English literature, I got excellence, I got excellence in Maths. In other subjects, I was just average. So my studies, people say, there was a school from 9 to 3. My school used to start after 4. When I used to go home and watch movies. What kind of movies did you watch? First of all, Shahrukh Khan, Govinda, and my father, Mr. Mithun Chakraborty, I have watched every film. Dad did 400 films, so it took a year to watch his film. And I was a big fan of Shahrukh Khan, Govinda, I was a big fan. So I used to get inspired by watching them. And the biggest thrill for me, in Coimbatore, there used to be a theatre, a single theatre, the name of that theatre was Apsara. So every weekend, we used to watch a show on Saturday afternoon. So I used to wait, for 5 days, I used to act in school, that I am very excited in school, so that my Saturday plan gets cancelled. So education wise, I was a very average student. I was not a scholar, nor a topper, but I was very good in Maths.

Satish: Okay. Which class is this, when your teacher told you, 10th?

Namashi: 10th? Yes, because I got 10th marks, and somehow I passed. So she told me, her name was Ms. Mehrun. Mehrun ma’am, if you are watching this, I am remembering you, and I took your advice.

Satish: Then in 10th, your teacher, or many people must have told you, and it is obvious, when you cme from such a family, a privilege, whose father is such a big superstar, such a big actor, whose mother is such a big actor, unfortunately, you don’t talk about them.

Namashi: Correct.

Satish: If we talk about Namashi, then Mithun Chakraborty, he comes by default, but his mother, she cannot be talked about. So, your acting, you liked it, you felt that you have to act, so did you learn acting from somewhere?

Namashi:  We are sitting here in Mumbai city, Satish Bhai, and I have attended every workshop of this city. First of all, I joined Kishore Namit Kapoor sir, Kishore sir, I love you. Alok sir, I love you. Makrand Deshpande sir, I love you. And I used to improvise, comedy improv. There is a small group here in Mumbai, Improv Comedy Mumbai, which teaches you acting without a script, you have to do improvised comedy. I did that for 2-2.5 years, 3 years. So, I passed out from school in 2009, and let me tell you one point, which many people may not know about me, in 2009, when I was 17 years old, as a hobby, I started writing for I used to write film reviews, and I used to write according to my own. But after 2 years, in 2011, IMDb noticed me, and I wrote for IMDb till 2018. And I used to write reviews for them, I was their top reviewer, and I reviewed some 3000 films.

Satish: Hindi films?

Namashi: All languages.

Satish: Ok, all languages.

Namashi: All languages. And IMDb, till today, I mean, I left it after 5 years, but Col Needham, who was at a very high position in IMDb, I used to meet him every year, because I used to contribute every day, to IMDb. So, I have written for IMDb for 9 years, from the age of 17 to 26.

Satish: So, didn’t you feel that I review so well, my observations are so good, so I should also go towards film critics.

Namashi:  If I had gone towards film critics, if I had thought of that profession, I was doing it as a hobby. Because I was 17 years old, and at the age of 17, you can’t become a hero. First of all, I was 110 kg, so there was no question of becoming a hero. So, I had to study for 3-4 years, to become fit. So, I thought, let’s write something. It was a hobby, by chance it clicked. Then I didn’t pursue it, because I knew that I wanted to become an actor. So, this happened side by side, so I continued it

Satish:  Ok. So, the hobby of writing, you used to write reviews on IMDb. Did it ever happen that your father used to read it? Did he give you any advice?

Namashi:  No, actually, he came to know later that I write. Because when he used to go out, people used to tell him that your son writes very well. So, he said, when did you become a writer? I used to write like this, but now I have a professional job. Ok, after that, when I left IMDb, I had a small website, a start-up website, I worked for them too, for almost 6 months. Ok. And at the end of 2018, I left the writing stint. I mean, I wrote for 9-9.5 years.

Satish: So, during this time, you used to write stories, screenplays, scripts?

Namashi: I used to write reviews, short stories, but, honestly, I haven’t attempted screenwriting yet. I think that’s a completely different profession. And I don’t want to do that. Because, I am not a writer. I am an actor who writes reviews. But I think I can write reviews because I am a big fan of cinema. I am a big fan. I have been a fan of cinema since childhood. But I am not a filmmaker. I don’t think that I will write a screenplay or direct it. I am an actor. But I can review films because I love them a lot.

Satish: So, you love cinema. You love cinema. You used to write reviews, but did it ever happen that the film you reviewed, that film, the makers of that film, reacted to it, that, Namashi, you wrote well, you liked it, or why did you write it like that?

Namashi:  Actually, the reactions that came to me, I mostly used to write about Hollywood films. Ok. Because IMDb is a worldwide website. But I remember, in 2014, there was a film called The Wolf of Wall Street. When I reviewed it, IMDb gave me 50 cents for writing reviews. Ok. And I remember, I got an email from a critic, who is a world-class critic, he said that this review, he compared my review with Roger Ebert’s review. So, I was 20 years old, so I was very flattered. Roger Ebert, you all know, is a very big critic. But I didn’t get reactions from makers here. I remember, the late Rishi Kapoor sir, because I had given a positive review for Bobby, so he read it and said that, you know, you are the son of Mithun Chakraborty, so you can come to this film industry. But I was also surprised that I got such reactions. That means, people used to read. So, it was good to know that. But more than writing reviews, I think it was a hobby. It was a passion for me, for the love of cinema. It was not a job. It was more of a passion.

Satish: When did you feel that you should be in front of the camera?

Namashi: When I was in school, I used to do plays. Shakespeare, Tughlaq. At that time, I was very scared. Because, you know, we were very scared of the teachers. When you are in school, you are afraid of teachers. So, I used to act. The audience used to like it, but I used to think that I am acting very badly. But after that, I realized that, if I was going on stage and people were liking my performance, they were clapping. But you don’t believe that you are good at what you are doing. Because you have self-doubt. When you have self-doubt, you think, maybe I am not good enough. But slowly, when you hear the applause of the audience, then you realize that, yes, maybe I am good enough. So, I was quite underconfident during my school days. Because I was a little overweight, and my dad used to say that, to be an actor, you have to look good on screen. So, I spent 5-6 years losing weight, then I gained confidence.

Satish:  Ok. If we talk about the Bollywood industry, the struggle to be successful, to be established, and to get work, what was your struggle like?

Namashi: The struggle in Bollywood is never-ending. Because there is so much competition. And I think, it’s not just about talent. You have to be at the right place at the right time. You have to be lucky. You have to meet the right people. I struggled for 7-8 years. From 2009 to 2017-18, I attended every acting workshop, I did theatre. I used to go to auditions, and I was rejected 100 times. Because people thought, you are Mithun Chakraborty’s son, but you don’t look like a hero. I was told many times, you have to lose weight, you have to look good on screen. So, I worked on myself for many years. And in 2018, I got my first film, Bad Boy. And that was a big breakthrough for me. So, I think the struggle is always there. Even after you get your first film, you have to prove yourself. The struggle never ends.

Satish: So, when you got your first film, Bad Boy, how did you feel? Did you feel that your struggle has paid off?

Namashi: Yes, I felt very happy. Because I knew that I had worked very hard for it. I had attended so many workshops, I had gone through so many rejections. And finally, when I got the film, I felt that my hard work had paid off. But I also knew that this was just the beginning. I had to prove myself with my performance. So, I worked even harder on my acting, my fitness, and everything. And I think the journey has just begun. I have a long way to go.

Satish: Ok. So, what’s next for Namashi Chakraborty?

Namashi: I have a few projects lined up. I can’t reveal much right now, but I am very excited about them. I am working on improving my craft, and I hope to do some meaningful work in the future. I want to make my parents proud and make a mark in the industry.

Satish: Thank you so much, Namashi, for sharing your journey with us. It was great talking to you.

Namashi:  Thank you, Satish. It was a pleasure.

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