Shatranj Ke Khilari, Doosri Dulhan Changed My Life: Victor Banerjee

RBN Web Desk: Veteran actor Victor Banerjee has said that of all the films he acted in, Satyajit Ray’s Shatranj Ke Khilari and Lekh Tandon’s Doosri Dulhan had the biggest impact on his life. Speaking to the media recently about his four-decade long acting career, Victor said, he is fortunate to have worked with internationally acclaimed directors like David Lean, Mrinal Sen, and Shyam Benegal.

The septuagenarian actor said, he came from a traditional Bengali family where watching films was not much welcome, leave alone acting in them. But since Shatranj Ke Khilari was a Ray film, his family relented and he got a chance to work with the auteur. It was because of this 1977 film that Victor got his passport made, and his family understood that acting is a respectable profession, the actor said.

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Shatranj Ke Khilari had a big star cast that included Sanjeev Kumar, Shabana Azmi, Saeed Jaffrey, Amjad Khan, Farida Jalal, and Farooq Sheikh. Academy Award winning actor-director Richard Attenborough played British general James Outram in the film.


On why Doosri Dulhan is important to him, Victor said, it was a rare film and much ahead of its time.  Doosri Dulhan was about surrogate motherhood, an issue which is still hesitantly discussed in India. Victor and Sharmila Tagore played a childless couple in the film. They hire a sex worker (played by Shabana Azmi) to bear them a child. Tandon was one of the most underrated directors in India cinema, Victor said, adding that he treated the subject in all the sensitivity it deserved. That aside, Doosri Dulhan was shot in and around Mussoorie, and Victor fell in love with the sleepy Himalayan town. He has since settled in Landour, a 40-minute drive from Mussoorie, Victor said.

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There has been no producer more kind, dedicated, and involved like Shashi Kapoor, Victor said, recalling his experience of working in Kalyug (1981). Shashi was an extremely organised producer who took good care of his actors, technicians and crew. But above all he was a wonderful human being, and perhaps the only actor in the industry with no enemies, Victor recalled.

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Kalyug is widely considered to be Benegal’s most ambitious and complex films. A modern day adaptation of the Mahabharata, the film was a multistarrer that included Rekha, Raj Babbar, Amrish Puri, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, AK Hangal, Om Puri, Reema Lagoo, and Sushma Seth, besides Victor and Shashi in key roles.

Image: Cinestaan

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