With a theater background and passion for acting, actor Shataf Figar steps into mainstream Bengali Movies and will be soon making his debut with Manoj Michigan’s thriller “89”. Sholoana Bangaliana correspondent Priyanka Dutta caught up with this dashing new face of Tollywood to know more about his Upcoming Kolkata Bengali Movies.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana– Hi Shataf, now that you are about to step into the star status of the Bengali Film Industry let us quickly walk down the memory lane and discover the young Shataf to begin with….
Shataf Figar– I identify myself with one who comes from humble beginnings. Someone who believes that one must dream big and that dreams can be achieved. I always chose to learn what I wanted to and what interested me rather than what was taught or forced upon me. I believe in empowering each and every human being that I encounter with life tools that will help them achieve their dreams as I have. Most of these are not taught to us in school books. Thus began my journey as a corporate trainer. For the last 15 years I have been conducting workshops on personal development and motivation. Now my focus is to shift to educational institutes and empower the youth with life tools that I have learnt from my greatest teacher.. LIFE.
As far as art is concerned, I have been associated with theatre for the last 5 years. I have been working with the likes of Mr. Alyque Padamsee, Neeraj Kabi, Ranan, LOK, Red Curtain in Mumbai and Kolkata.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana– You are making your debut with Manoj Michigan’s film 89. How was the experience of doing your first film?
Shataf Figar– The first experience is always a special one and especially if it is your first movie. It is like the first love of your life. How can we ever forget that? The experience can be simply put as the best learning experience of my career. I soaked each and every bit of the opportunity that I got to learn from the entire unit. Even on days when I was not meant to shoot, I would make it a point to visit the sets and watch Apu da(Saswata Chatterjee). There is so much to learn from the man. Also my co actors Biplab Dasgupta and Barun Chanda extended the support that I needed.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana– How was the experience of working opposite Raima Sen and Saswata Chattopadhyay both of whom are accomplished actors?
Shataf Figar– It started off with jitters and ended with accomplishment. Both have been extremely supportive and cooperative. I remember the first day of shoot at NT 1 studio when I met Apu da (Saswata Chatterjee) and Raima for the first time. The magnificent power that Apu da exudes left me dumb founded for a while. On that very day at the end of the shoot I walked up to Apu da and confessed my respect for him as one of my favorite actors and his powerful and vibrant energy that he radiates had me at a loss of words. He just patted on my back and said “bhalo kaaj kor; you have all the ingredients to make it big here”. That was the biggest boost that I have ever received. And my performance in the movie is a clear reflection of that moment and words that he shared. He is a great inspiration for me and one must not forget the contagious sense of humor that he brings to any situation.
Raima made sure that I was made to feel comfortable as her co actor which was extremely important. She was always sporting a positive attitude and a keen desire to do her best and this worked wonders for me. I mean when u see your co actor who has done 47 movies displaying that kind of an attitude, you feel that you could have asked to be in a better space. An extremely humble soul who loves to enjoy her jhaal muri with extra tok and jhaal is the way I will like to describe Raima.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana– Being a Non-Bengali how comfortable are you with the Bengali Language; are you putting in extra efforts to improve your Bengali accent?
Shtaf Figar– Yes of course I do know Bengali. I can read and speak the language with utmost fluency. Practice will only make it perfect. The Bengali influence has been pretty strong. My surroundings have a very strong Bengali culture. Studying Bengali as my third language in school only helped me in my job. Yet there is so much more to learn and imbibe of this wonderful culture. I have roped in a Bengali tutor and we have been working to overcome any challenges that might crop up. I am being extremely proactive. So the language being a problem in my acting career does not arise. For example Jeet who is a non-Bengali has managed to create a huge fan following with his work. It inspires me that if he can do it why can’t I??
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana– You have a background in theatre. How has that helped in your acting?
Shataf Figar– Theatre is one of the best teachers of disciplining an actor’s life. Theatre for me is, above all, a living art form – a process, an event that is fluid in time, feeling and experience. It has helped me REFINE myself as a performer. Refinement is my favorite word.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana– What do you enjoy more? Acting in films or theatre?
Shataf Figar– Both have their thrills and excitement. As a performer the medium does not really matter. As long as my audience, me (the performer) and the scene are all in a moment of rassa; the moment becomes one as a whole.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana– Your next film is opposite Swastika Mukherjee who is one of the most talked about as well as talented actresses of today. Tell us about the film and also about your role in this new project?
Shataf Figar– It is a very interesting project. I play a high flying corporate guy who comes to live as a tenant in Swastika’s house with his live-in girlfriend. Whether love develops between my character and Swastika’s is something I can’t reveal. All I can say is that my character is in love with Swastika’s voice. She plays a classical singer in the film. Love is not always physical, but beyond that. And in this film, our relationship is left to the audience to decipher. Needless to say, Swastika is a powerhouse of talent. So, it will be good to share screen space with her. The added bonus of this film is Shafqat’s music and Resul’s sound design, which is to die for. But I am yet to sign on the dotted line, as the talks are in the initial stages. The movie revolves around a female classical singer, who does not do public performances but trains young musicians. But given the current competition in the field of music and the craze for talent hunt shows, she lives under the constant fear of losing students. The film shows how she ultimately copes with this reality.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana– What are the other projects you are working on at the moment?
Shataf Figar– I am currently working on a couple of theatre productions. I also finished playing a part in The Stone Age a LOK production, which was a part of the Kolkata Youth Theatre festival. Apart from that I am working on an adaptation of Mahesh Dattani’s play “30 days in September” which will be staged in the first week of June. This is in association with Fightback which is an initiative of Mumtaz Sorcar for women empowerment and self defense. I am also gearing up to work with Shubhadro Chowdhury in his next movie, Raag Darbari Kannada.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana– Have you started receiving offers from Bollywood too?
Shataf Figar– Talks are on but cannot reveal much about it till things are finalized.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana– If you had name the directors whom you look forward work with what would the list look like?
Shataf Figar– I will definitely like to work again with Manoj Michigan and Mainak Bhaumick (with whom he has done Kolkata Calling). Apart from them, Srijit, Q, Anik dutta, Kamaleshwar Mukherjee, Kaushik Ganguly are the other directors whom I would love to work with.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana– A Clichéd question though, still cannot help asking;where do you see yourself in the next five years?
Shataf Figar– I want to keep on doing meaningful work and keep on constantly learning and evolving as a stronger performer. I also want to fulfill my desire to work with the above mentioned directors.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana– And if you had to name five Tollywood actresses whom you look forward to working with, which names form the priority list?
Shataf Figar– Raima, Mumtaz, Swastika, Paoli and Parno.
Priyanka Dutta, Sholoana Bangaliana-Who do you look up to in Tollywood?
Shataf Figar– Apu da as an actor, Manoj Michingan as a director and friend and Sanglap Bhowmik as the editor (Sanglap has done some never seen before editing in Tollywood for 89).
With Shataf’s new Movie ‘89’ to release soon, all eyes are set on him as he seems to have the potential of proving his versatility and rub shoulders with the likes of Saswata Chatterjee and Indraneil Sengupta who the Bengali Film Industry proudly flaunts. Sholoana Bangaliana wishes Mr. Figar the Very Best for his new stint as a Tollywood Star and hopes to see him shining bright on Page 3 (for all good reasons) for the better part of the year post the release of his debut film.
Interviewer: Priyanka Dutta
Priyanka Dutta takes a keen interest in lifestyle and entertainment related news. She also enjoys interviewing celebrities and other renowned personalities. Priyanka holds a post graduate degree in English and Mass Communication. Journalism is her passion and she has reported for many a reputed international web portals.