Tulsi Chakraborty. Here is the actor that created some of the most marvellous roles ever played in the history of cinema.
The viewers of the heyday considered him a good old comedian. The people he worked with knew him as a jolly good man who was poorly paid as an actor. But the picture was different in the eyes of Chhabi Biswas. In the eyes of Ray. They saw beyond – that the commonplace missed.
Tulsi Chakraborty was a gem of an artist. The fact that he was humble, good natured and hardly demanded money only adds more respect to this man.
Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself; but talent instantly recognizes genius.
The story goes that the legendary Chhabi Biswas so confidently ruled the roles that he read the script only once. He did not memorize the lines, playing the role out of his sheer capacity. But when Tulsi Chakraborty was his co-actor it made a little nervous, in a way. He re-read his script for he was to act with a stronger actor. He had made a strong impression on Chhabi Biswas with his spontaneity in blossoming the character.
Satyajit Ray had worked with one great artist after another, has been internationally acclaimed as among the world’s best. This man had once said that had Tulsi Chakraborty been born in the US, he would have definitely earned his Oscar. That was the kind of respect and outlook Ray had for him.
Tulsi Chakraborty true talent came to focus when he did Paras Pathar by Ray. He was inimitable. Ray for this peerless performance wanted him to pay a decent sum of money. He refused the offer, taking a lower amount. He said that the rest of the Bengali film industry would not hire him anymore if his charges are what Ray thought he deserved.
The virtuoso was also an excellent singer, composer and a dancer. He spoke smooth Urdu and Parsi.
Tulsi Chakraborty spent his childhood with his uncle Prasad Chakraborty. His father worked in the railways and had to travel a lot. His uncle was a talented musician. He played for the Star theatre. Tulsi accompanied his uncle and watched the great artists at work.
We never see Tulsi Chakraborty with any make up or in any gaudy look. He is always the common Bengali man in the white dhuti and poite.
Even at the peak of his career, Tulsi Chakraborty lived simply. He would usually take the tram or the bus to travel from Tollygunge to Howrah. Sometimes, he would also wait for a co-actor to give him a lift.
While we miss Tulsi Chakraborty, his roles live on. That is why even after 60 years, we again and again watch films like Sarey Chuattar.
He was one of the greatest comedians – globally. His flair for acting was so natural that one forgets that is an actor. One begins to assume that he is common Bengali babu living next door, not a great actor. And that is the true mark of a magnificent actor!
- Watch Bhanu and Tulsi fight over Ilish
- King of romantic comedy Bhanu in the moshla muri song
- Rare interview of Robi Ghosh that shows his extraordinary calibre
Credits: timesofindia, Manik and I: My Life with Satyajit Ray