Before ‘Jagga Jasoos’, Catch These 5 Saswata Chatterjee Films

You probably remember him as Bob Biswas in the Vidya Balan-starrer Kahaani.

4 min read

Saswata Chatterjee in a still from <i>Jagga Jasoos</i>.

You remember him as the nonchalant serial killer Bob Biswas in the Vidya Balan-starrer Kahaani.

Saswata  Chatterjee as Bob Biswas in a still from <i>Kahaani</i>.
Saswata Chatterjee as Bob Biswas in a still from Kahaani.

And now Bengali actor Saswata Chatterjee is back in Bollywood playing Ranbir Kapoor’s father in the upcoming Jagga Jasoos. And if the song Phir Wahi... is anything to go by, he has delivered another memorable performance.

But as any Bengali movie lover would tell you, Saswata - or Apu, as he is affectionately called by peers and fans - has been delivering powerhouse performances for years now. Arguably the most talented contemporary actor in Tollywood, Saswata Chatterjee has become a byword for a reel chameleon. Throw him anything, and he would churn out a character to remember.

Though he has a filmy lineage - he is actor Subhendu Chatterjee’s son - Saswata took the hard road to work his way up. Starting out as a TV actor, he won a lot of popularity as Topshe, the sidekick of Satyajit Ray’s iconic Feluda in a telefilm and TV series directed by Sandip Ray (Ray’s son). Not blessed with conventional leading man looks, he took on bit roles in the movies till he made his presence as an actor felt - alike to filmmakers and the audience.

Today, Saswata is one of the busiest actors in the Bengali film industry, playing everything from hatke protagonists to zany character roles. And what’s more, all of it without the use of a mobile phone. Yes, you read that right. He only uses a mobile phone to talk to his family in the evening during outdoor shoots. At other times, you have to call his residence on the landline!

Even as he adds to his incredible repertoire - he is working on an upcoming web series - here are the five of his most memorable performances in Bengali films till date. Catch them before you go to watch Jagga Jasoos.

Meghe Dhaka Tara (2013)

A still from <i>Meghe Dhaka Tara</i>.
A still from Meghe Dhaka Tara.

Based on the life of iconic Bengali filmmaker Ritwik Ghatak, the monochrome Meghe Dhaka Tara has Saswata at his superlative best. The actor himself feels that bringing to life the passionate, political, talented, alcoholic and sometimes insane filmmaker Nilkantha Bagchi, has been his most challenging and satisfying stint. While Saswata physically doesn’t resemble Ghatak at all, his performance swings the audience away from such superficialities and instead, sucks them into the talented and troubled maestro’s mind.

Eagoler Chokh/ Ebar Shabor (2016/ 2015)

A poster of <i>Eagoler Chokh</i>.
A poster of Eagoler Chokh.

There’s no dearth of famous sleuths in Bengali literature, and consequently, films. And amazingly enough, Saswata played (and continues to play) sidekicks in both Feluda and Byomkesh films. But now with the Shabor series, he has come into his own as a detective. In both Ebar Shabor and Eagoler Chokh, Saswata wows the audience as the no-nonsense, hands-on and sharp ACP Shabor Dasgupta. This is a series worth looking forward to.

Byomkesh Bakshi series

A poster of <i>Byomkesh O Chiriakhana</i>.
A poster of Byomkesh O Chiriakhana.

Byomkesh Bakshi has never gone out of circulation in Bengali cinema and currently, there are two different series, directed by different directors. The Anjan Dutta films have Saswata as Byomkesh’s sidekick, Ajit. Playing the narrator-author, loyal friend and in a way, the sleuth’s inner voice, these films showcase Saswata’s expertise in character roles.

C/O Sir (2013)

Saswata Chatterjee and Raima Sen in a still from <i>C/O Sir</i>.
Saswata Chatterjee and Raima Sen in a still from C/O Sir.

A blind school teacher caught in a criminal intrigue. Ample scope for melodrama if you look at precedents. But as Jayabrata Ray, Saswata brings a calmness, maturity and love to his character that makes this romantic-thriller-cum-morality-play above average.

Ashchorjyo Pradeep (2013)

A still from <i>Ashchorjyo Pradeep</i>.
A still from Ashchorjyo Pradeep.

What happens when a Bengali middle-class man, who’s scared of everything and everyone and struggling to realise his middle-class dreams, gets Aladin’s magic lamp? Saswata showcases his astonishing range in both comic and dark scenes in this contemporary parable with elan.

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