‘He taught me everything about acting’

Moushumi Chatterjee mourns Tarun Majumdar, who passed into the ages on Monday.

“There was my biological father who taught me how to walk through this world. Then there was my father-in-law (composer, singer, film-maker Hemant Kumar Mukherjee) who taught me kindness towards all. Then there was this other father of mine, Tarun Majumdar who taught me everything about acting.”

Moushumi Chatterjee was barely 10-11 when she was signed to play the title role of the child bride in Tarun Majumdar’s Balika Badhu in 1967.

“I knew nothing about acting. When my father was approached for me to play the lead in Balika Badhu, he refused outright,” Moushumi recalls in a conversation with Subhash K Jha.

“During those days working in films was looked down upon. It was Tarunda‘s wife Sandhya Roy who convinced my father that it was okay to let his daughter become an actress, that there was good and bad in every walk of life,” Moushumi remembers. “My father agreed to let me go to Kolkata as long as Sandhya Roy took my responsibility.”

Working in Balika Badhu was a picnic for little Moushumi.

“I didn’t know when it started and when it ended. I knew nothing about acting. I didn’t even know how to wear a sari. Someone had to drape it on me every day before shooting. I had no idea when a shot began and ended. Even Tarunda was baffled on seeing me do the shots. He would ask me how I did them. I had no idea.”

“All I know is, I had a talent, God’s gift for acting. No one taught me how to face the camera. I just took to it like a fish in water.”

Balika Badhu made Moushumi an instant star in Kolkata.

“At an age when I was playing with my dolls, I had to deal with stardom. I remember we all flew from Kolkata to Mumbai for the Filmfare awards. This was my first air journey. I was given a beautiful Banarasi sari to wear. Raakheedi (actress Raakhee) came to the hotel room to dress me up for the Filmfare awards function. Every detail of that evening is entrenched in my mind.”

Years after Balika Badhu, in 2006, Moushumi got a chance to work with Tarun Majumdar again.

“It was a film called Bhalobasar Onek Naam and my daughter Megha was introduced. I played her sister. Uttam Kumar’s grandson was also introduced in the film.”

Moushumi looks back with fondness, love and respect at Tarun Majumdar’s contribution to her life.

“This is not a good day for me. I’ve lost someone very close to me. Someone who shaped me as the person that I am. But he was suffering in hospital. It isn’t nice to be kept alive on a ventilator. So death was a welcome relief for him.”

Feature Presentation: Rajesh Alva/Rediff.com

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