Moushumi Chatterjee has enthralled the audience with her performances in hits like ‘Ghayal’, ‘Ghar Parivaar’ and ‘Aa Ab Laut Chalen’ to name a few. Her most remarkable performance in recent times was ‘Piku’. The 2015 release saw Moushumi Chatterjee essaying Chhobi Maashi and her act alongside Amitabh Bachchan was highly appreciated. And as the veteran actress turns 72, Shoojit Sircar, who called the shots for ‘Piku’, fondly reminisces working with Moushumi Chatterjee.
On meeting Moushumi Chatterjee for the first time
I didn’t know her at all. I knew her through her films. But when I thought of her for Chhobi Maashi’s role, I got her number from a friend and called her. She knew about me and had watched ‘Vicky Donor’. So, Juhi Chaturvedi (Piku’s writer) and I went to her house for the film’s narration. She sat on the sofa and started ranting about everyone from the film industry; she was simply unstoppable. I cannot give you details, but there were names we have looked up to all our lives and she unabashedly went on to give us stories from the locker rooms to make-up rooms. Being a Bengali, she first khilaod-pilaod us before the narration. Then in the last five minutes, she asked us about the film and agreed to do the film. She liked the fact that I was a Bengali and became a part of ‘Piku’. But her gyaan continued on the film set, too.
On working with her in ‘Piku’ After Mr Bachchan left the set, she would sit down and start her stories. She had solutions for everyone, from sorting wife issues to food and other issues. She had became an Agony Aunt on the set. She was the same in front of Mr. Bachchan also. I am sure he knew her well as they had done two films in the past. Moushumi ji is absolutely transparent and we felt that her character of Chhobi Mashi was like her. Besides, she was ready to experiment. We had issues in the beginning as my way of working and her way of working differed, but then we sat down and sorted it out. After that, she became so comfortable that she would ask me if she could shoot some more close-ups of the scenes and she would go all out to perform.
On Moushumi Chatterjee’s most memorable role
Her character in ‘Angoor’ with Sanjeev Kumar is the most memorable one for me. The tuning that the two of them had as characters was simply amazing. She has done some amazing films in Bengali, too. She is a complete natural. I also feel that her potential as an artiste has not been tapped by the film industry. I remember her telling us on the sets that she worked in films on her own terms and was ready to walk out of them, too. She should be offered more films. She is so vibrant in front of the camera, you just cannot afford to ignore her.