INTERVIEW

Moushumi Chatterjee: Straight Talk With The Actress

December 19, 2007
Kavita Chhibber

She took both the Bengali and the Bombay film industry by storm in her very first film. From Balika Bodhu(Child bride) which she did while in 5th grade in Bengal, Moushumi Chatterjee became the golden girl of Indian Cinema. Her vivacity and pizzazz, her natural performances and crookedly gorgeous smile made her the most sought after actress even after marriage and kids at a very young age.

I always thought two people had the hottest smiles in Bollywood - Shashi Kapoor and Moushumi, and both had crooked teeth. Sometimes I miss the au natural look. Now everyone seems to have orthodontically enhanced teeth-and more!:).

Interestingly when I finally did get an opportunity to interview Moushumi, it was such a pleasant surprise. My friend actor Rahul Khanna had already told me she was a lot of fun, but it was so refreshing to speak with someone who was totally hassle free, very outspoken and her Bengali hinglish accent is the cutest thing to hear.

I had no idea she was only in 5th grade when Moushumi was discovered and acted in Balika Bodhu which went on to become a platinum jubilee hit. By the time she was in 10th grade she got married to music and film director Hemant Kumar’s son Jayanto or Babu as he is known.

She says she landed in Bombay not having any relative there, but with her doll house, her dog and a good friend of hers, but the love that Hemant Kumar and his family showered on her compensated for the homesickness she felt. It was back to work for her soon after in Anurag, where she played a blind girl. The movie again was a super hit but for young Moushumi it was the excitement of having her idol Nutan play her mom that was the highlight of the film. She said to me that she could not believe she got to see people who she saw from afar, like Nutan, Ashok Kumar and the then superstar Rajesh Khanna. Talk of a star being star struck!

Moushumi had some candid comments on some of her costars including Amitabh Bachchan. It was interesting to hear what she had to say about some of them.

The rape scene in Roti, Kapada aur Makan filmed on Moushumi is considered one of the most disturbing scenes ever on Indian silver screen, but her story about the picturisation was almost comical.

She has dabbled in politics and there too she was brutally honest about the fact that she only considers actor Sunil Dutt to be that single star who really worked hard for his constituency. The rest have done it for glamour and why she herself is out of it even after having beaten a man who has won six consecutive terms before she stood against him.

She has worked with many top directors in the industry but told me she thinks the women directors she has worked with are amazing. Her latest movie is a film directed by Aparna Sen, but she misses Deepa Mehta with whom she did Bollywood Hollywood the most for many reasons.

Moushumi has also had one of the longest marriages in the film industry and she told me that if she was to take a rebirth she’d want the same husband in the next birth as well. Babu was very young too when they got married and she admitted it isn’t easy for a man to live in a super-successful wife’s shadow. I spoke with Babu later and he came across as very warm and charming. He was very touched when I told him what Moushumi had said. Her two daughters Payal and Megha are more of friends because she had them very young. Payal chose the corporate world, but Megha has made her debut in films working under Tarun Mazumdar, the same director who discovered Moushumi, so the wheel turned a full circle for this lady.

Moushumi has been one of those rare actresses who rose to success even after marriage and kids. I can only think of Dimple Kapadia who made that kind of comeback and managed to do well. It’s usually pretty hard for married actresses to make a comeback after having kids. The Indian public just has a hard time accepting them as someone’s love interest and they become someone’s mom or bhabhi or sister in the public minds and those are the roles these actresses end up playing, if they try to return.

We had long discussions on the state of Bollywood and the younger generation. She feels people are just running but in a senseless, rudderless way. The craze to be in the Bombay film industry is a global phenomenon now with kids from all over the world coming to Bombay. Acting and modeling schools are opening in every nook and cranny of the city. Moushumi also added that the industry has become like a conveyer belt. In the old days actors became legends-today there is quantity but not much sustainable quality, and the grace and class that she saw in the old days when there was far less cutthroat competition, and lasting friendships is seriously missing.

When I told her Shashi Kapoor and she had the cutest smiles, she said laughed and said that her brain is a bit whacky as is her way of looking at life. But Shashi was her guru in many ways and her dentist used to tell her he had people coming to him asking him if he could fix their teeth and make their smile look like Moushumi’s! “ The other day I was at the mall and someone came up to me and asked-what is the secret of your gorgeous smile? I laughed and said-your eyes! The guy was taken aback, but its true-beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder!

Moushumi thinks she is very blessed because she has met mostly good people in her life and that she is truly God’s favorite child.

To hear Kavita’s complete exclusive interview with Moushumi Chatterjee go to www.kavitachhibber.com.

KAVITA CHHIBBER is an accomplished freelance writer and media personality. She is well-known for her in-depth interviews of celebrities, authors and public officials. She also writes hard-hitting news articles and cover stories for publications. You can get a full range of her work and her interests (including astrology!) at KavitaChhibber.com.
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#1
Athreya
December 19, 2007
09:33 AM

A very insightful read..

#2
temporal
URL
December 19, 2007
04:18 PM

kc:

another god one:)

...and both had crooked teeth...

come to think of it there are a lot many who do not pay enough attention to oral surgery

#3
kerty
December 19, 2007
05:02 PM

Moushami is one of those gifted actresses of yester-years that could effortlessly exude class, elegance, glamor, modesty, innocence, playfulness, sexiness without appearing snobbish, arrogant, trashy or vulgar.

#4
Kavita Chhibber
URL
December 21, 2007
06:42 PM

Thanks all. Kerty, I will convey your compliment to Moushumi-you have described her very well.
Happy holidays to every one on this blog.

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