My son is a better dancer than me, says Mithun

Jan 18, 2007 Subhash K. Jha

Mumbai, Jan 19 (IANS) Three-time National Award winning actor Mithun Chakraborty, who plays Abhishek Bachchan's foe and friend in the recently released "Guru", says his son Mimoh has far better dancing skills than him.

Mimoh is all set to make his debut on the big screen with "Jimmy".

"My son's film 'Jimmy' should be ready by March. The title comes from one of my hit songs. Mimoh is not at all like me. He's his own person. And he's a much better dancer than I am. Don't believe me? Watch him when he comes on screen," Mithun told IANS in an interview.

The best thing that strikes you about the veteran actor is his warmth and humility. "I'm glad to be around for so long," he said.

Thankfully, no one is offering him father and brother roles in Bollywood.

"My new release 'Guru' has me directed by Mani Ratnam. Do you know if things had gone well I'd have worked with him long ago! Yes, Mani had offered me a role in his Tamil film 'Iruvar' (which Prashant finally played), which I didn't do because I was required to cut my hair.

"If I had cut my hair for one film, a dozen other producers would've committed suicide. Ratnam is a filmmaker who has been doing exemplary work for many years."

Mithun says Ratnam is focused.

"He's an actor's director. He's very clear about what he wants. Whenever I thought I was going wrong, he assured me I was doing fine. Every time I had my doubts I'd run to the monitor to check out my shots. And he was right each time!

"There was so much to learn from him. And I'm not saying that just because I have to.

"All my young co-stars, Abhishek, Aishwarya, Madhavan, Vidya, are lovely to work with."

Mithun feels technically, the film industry has come a long way.

"Yes, things have improved technically. The atmosphere is far more cutthroat. The media is far more active today. That makes the stars far more conscious of doing the right things."

He refuses to play the stereotypical father or brother.

"If I did any of those, my fans in Bengal would be very unhappy. Over there they still see me as a star or superstar. My recent Bengali films, like 'Hungama', are super hits. Bengali producers would throw a fit if I did fatherly roles in Hindi."

Mithun, who does three-four Bengali films every year, confesses he moved to Ooty in the 1980s for the sake of his family.

"Because I didn't want to die with an actor's shoes on. I've no ambitions to die as an actor. I want to secure my children's future. They shouldn't suffer when I'm not here. My daughter is only nine."

His next Hindi release is Hansal Mehta's "Raakh".

"It's a mafia story and I play an elder brother's role."

At the peak of his career Mithun decided to do a whole lot of substandard films.

"I don't know why you should call them sub-standard," he says, jumping to his movies' defence.

"Those were also very big hits, for example 'Jallad'. How do you classify them as A-grade or B-grade? Sure, you can classify them as small-budgeted films. Any actor, who doesn't know the economics of filmmaking, is bound to flop.

"You need to know your market value. And if you consider yourself a big star in your head, then you'll fall flat on your face. Just because I'm a big star in Bengal I can't ask for Rs.5 million in Mumbai.

"To stay in the business I had to know the market and my own value in and out. That's how those films that you call substandard films happened. If I'm still around today it's because I did all those films... big small, good or bad or ugly."

Mithun's range extends from Mrinal Sen's "Mrigaya" to T.L.V. Prasad's "Jallad".

"And let's not forget I play Ramkrishna Paramhans, which got me my third National Award. So, I've played everything, from disco dancer to jallad to god... Yes, it has been a long journey."

Incidentally, Mithun had done a film called "Guru" in the 1980s.

"And I had also done a 'Guru' in Bengali. So, this is my third 'Guru'. Both in the past have been very big hits. I'm sure this will be my third successful 'Guru'... My god! Such a long journey...

"Any mistakes? See, the past is a burden that you carry. I don't think it helps you improve on your mistakes. The present and the future are what count. I don't believe in living in the past."

When asked about his landmark films, he said: "The three National Award winning films ('Mrigaya', 'Tahader Katha' and 'Ramakrishna')... then, of course, 'Disco Dancer', 'Pyar Jhutka Nahin', 'Hum Paanch', 'Mujrim'... These gave me an actor's status and made me very popular."

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