Madhumita Sarcar reels off the famous dialogue of Duryodhana from NTR starrer Daana Veera Soora Karna and we are impressed. The newcomer from Kolkata is taking her Telugu dialogues seriously and uses all her spare time to understand the language. Call it a habit or quality, Madhumita makes it a point to learn the language before the film’s schedule begins. She modestly says that she is not confident without knowing the language so puts in all her effort to sound natural. Her first film Oke Oka Aasa is winding up the last schedule and the actor is waiting to spread her wings. The film in all probability could be released in November. In a conversation with Y.Sunita Chowdhary of Klapaboardpost.com, Madhumita Sarcar talks of her childhood, her longest stint with the small tube and then how she changed gears to head Southwards to do Telugu cinema.
“I always wanted to be an astro-physicist and I remember having a lot of love for physics and chemistry when I was in class four or five. I wanted to go to space, be an astronaut. I would read about everything about how stars die and new stars are formed, about galaxies etc. I never thought I would be an actor and knew I would be a scientist for sure one day. Myself and my father would watch a lot of cinema and discuss how commercial films are entertaining and parallel cinema is satisfying. I belong to a simple family, my imagination was confined to being a teacher if I didn’t click as an astronaut. I saw Satayajit Ray films and had different perspectives, we didn’t know it was a study but we loved the discussion,” says Madhumita.
Madhumita belongs to a conservative family and has supportive parents. Her mother is an open minded and a confident person and while growing up she would hear her mother tell her father that he couldn’t do business without her help. When she was in class four, we bumped into a photographer in the industry who also was her neighbour. He would see her go to school and return and one day he came home and made a request to her father; He needed a small kid for an ad shoot revolving around father-daughter. Madhumita shares, “My father was strictly against that offer because it might deviate my mind. He pleaded and my parents eventually relented. I went there and I had 9 or 10 changes. For a girl of that age, I was so energetic and ready to do more changes. They gave me chocolates etc. In class 9, that photographer met my father again in a bank and enquired about me. My father told the photographer I was keen on being an astronaut. This person called my father again and offered another shoot but for a payment. I would be paid 2000 Rs for a three or four hour shoot. At that point, I made the decision. Modelling I thought was very easy where I just had to wear different costumes and pose. Also I was getting paid”.
Slowly Madhumita was getting more offers and more money. Once It started it never stopped, till today Mdahumita never did a photoshoot. One advertisement led to another and she never found a reason to do a portfolio. She then got an opportunity to do a television serial. She adds, “I just finished my ICSC and was thinking about the subject I should be taking in college. The day the results would be announced, I went to sign the serial contract. I was not confident of my grades and signed the contract. Half an hour later I got my results and I scored more than 80 plus percent. The hitch was that serials were non stop and I had to devote complete time. I learnt acting in the process, the people were very happy with me. I studied a lot on cinema too. I would read Satyajit Ray books, NSD and other material on how to approach acting. I would work like a donkey, every day for 8 years without a break. I never knew I would work so hard. I shot for 36 hours at a stretch once.”
When Madhumita’s father found out that she was serious about acting, he let her be. They supported her and then onwards her life took a big leap..from television to cinema. She further states, “I knew all the technicalities, I was into academics also and thought I outgrew television. It wasn’t exciting at all and I took a break and went to the cinema. I waited for people to call, I believe in God and my hard work. I always thought if people saw my work, they would approach me. As soon as I stopped doing serials people knew I was switching gears, I got offers. Covid happened and after that I began working on the script and I was confident of learning any language, it is no barrier for me.” Ask her why Bengali cinema is not as popular as South cinema, she says, “Bengali cinema is not ornamented with too many budgets. Bengali literature always blossomed in an organic way, people would sit under the trees and near the river bed and write. We are not equipped with that kind of money. We knew we had budgets like one or two crore and the struggle to make cinema in that budget was always there and so is the reach.”
Is Bengali content doing well in OTT? Yes, absolutely. It has become a good place for experimenting stories. Once upon a time, they were influenced by Bollywood and south cinema. They moved away from Bengali culture and began incorporating stuff from other languages. I personally felt the Bengali flavour was gone and now people are realising that it is best to bring stories from the deeply rooted culture of West Bengal. Instead of copying content that happened ten years back, we are now cherising, nourishing, real Bangla and telling stories that are our own. Success happens when people relate to the content. Appreciation follows when we tell our unique stories”. How do you balance your work and personal life? “I can do that perfectly. I need stardom and also my space. I need to be on the street and what any common person does. I go anywhere and everywhere and nothing stops me. I hide my face and no one recognises me, where is the problem then?,” says Madhumita.
How did she bag the Telugu offer? She says, “I still feel lucky that they found out about me and summoned me. The producer called, and I was told that these people were looking for a heroine who has a screen presence and is good at performance. They saw my previous work and were convinced that I could exude the energy of the character. They saw Cheeni and decided I was the girl and told me to travel to Hyderabad to hear the narration. I was blown away with the plot. It was a film of substance and it had such a meaty character. I learned the language, I am against prompting. I have to feel it from within, so I began Telugu tuitions. I went back to Kolkata, finished my pending work and whenever I had time, I was learning Telugu. Oke Oka Aasa is the title of the film. It isn’t an ordinary commercial film, it has great content and depth. It is a romantic, psychological story. My character has a lot to do and has layers to it. I had to go through a lot of ups and downs. I feel every role is important, even a dead person portrayal is tough. You have to hold your breath and lie down right?”
About the director, she waxes eloquent, “My director is so cool, always was there to guide me whenever I drifted. He gave me the freedom to explore and stopped me when I was going overboard. My co-star Rakesh is an understanding and cooperative actor. The entire crew was like a family and I have nothing to complain about. I would love to see this film as an audience even if I weren’t a part of it.”