It is believed that entry into the Hindi film industry is next to impossible if you are not blessed with a godfather. However, Odisha-born Subhankar Das has managed to carve his niche in the Hindi film and television industries thanks to his acting skill and perseverance.
Subhankar, nephew of veteran theatre actor-director Robin Das who is known for his roles in offbeat movies like Shadows of the Rainbow, The Curse of King Tut’s Tomb, Mary Kom, KaunKitneyPani Mein and Ranvir the Marshal, had little interest in acting when he was a kid.
“My uncle is an alumnus of the National School of Drama and actors like KK Raina, Pankaj Kapoor and Ranjit Kapoor were his batch mates. He was also part of the faculty there and taught people like ManojBajpayee, Atul Kulkarni, Seema Biswas, Irrfan Khan, Ashish Vidyarthi, Mukesh Tiwari, and Rajpal Yadav among others. He used to stage plays whenever he visited our village on vacation. Though I loved watching those plays, I was never passionate about acting,” says Subhankar who has showcased his acting talent in episodic serials like Crime Patrol, Savdhan India, andMasalbesides about 20 plays. He has featured in movies like the Akshay Kumar movie,Rustom. KanganaRanaut-starrer Mental Hai Kya and Sanjay Mishra-starrer Kamyab are among his forthcoming movies.
On his journey as an actor, he says, “When I was pursuing engineering at Seemanta Engineering College, one of my friends encouraged me to participate in the youth talent fest held in our college. I took part in skit competitions and won the first and third prize in the Euphoria and Rota Fests, respectively. This built up my confidence as an actor. After completing a course in engineering, I decided to shift to Bangalore to look fora job. However, my father had different plans for me. He asked me to go to Delhi. While staying at Robin uncle’s place there, I used to spend my leisure time watching plays at NSD. Slowly, I became a part of theatre and got opportunities to act as a guest artiste in several NSD plays. I never realised when and how I developed a strong urge for acting and decided to pursue it as a career.”
But Subhankar’s family was not happy with his decision. So, he had to join a software company. “Despite getting a good salary and being in a good position, I was not happy. I was leading a lonely life. One day, I quit my job and returned to my home town, Balasore. It was then that my family members realised my passion for acting. My father, who was once against my decision to pursue acting, told me, ‘Go and do whatever you want to do. I am confident that you will succeed.’ I moved to Delhi where I joined theatre. I did two plays at NSD as a guest artiste. I realised that I had to learn Hindi well to get noticed in the Hindi television and film industries. Thus, I joined Bharatendu Natya Academy in Uttar Pradesh to pursue post-graduation in dramatic art. However, I continued to do theatre to hone my acting skill.”
About his first break, he says, “Following completion of my PG, I went to Mumbai. A friend of mine was casting actors for a daily soap titled Lajwanti which was loosely based on Rajinder Singh Bedi’s 1956 book titled Lajwanti, Land of Five Rivers. He asked me to audition for it. I was not interested in making a television debut so early in my career as I wanted to prove my mettle in theatre first. However, I went for the audition and bagged a role.”
For Subhankar, theatre is his first love. He says, “Theatre makes an artiste perfect. Whatever I am today, it is because of theatre. It boosted my confidence and helped me grow as an artiste. Theatre taught me a lot of things. I got the opportunity to work with several theatre directors like Robin Das, Ashwat Bhatt and ChittaranjanTripathy. While doing the play Thieves’ Carnival under the direction of ChittaranjanTripathy, he taught me that comedy is all about timing. While doing the play Comrade under Ashwat Bhatt’s direction, I learnt that artistes shouldn’t become dialogue conscious. One has to listen first and the dialogues would come naturally. That’s why I never memorise my dialogues.”
It was not all smooth sailing for Subhankar in Mumbai. He says, “Lajwanti wound up after three months. Being a newbie, it was difficult for me to bag roles in television soaps. It was then that I landed a very small role in Rustom. I did the role for the sake of money. I could earn just Rs 70,000 from Lajwanti and that was not enough for my sustenance in a city like Mumbai. I kept giving auditions and bagged roles in episodic serials like Crime Patrol and Savdhan India, School Challenge, a Netflix series, and Aswas on Amazon Prime. I also did 15 short films.”
He continues, “However, I came into the limelight after doing a short film Mukti with Kirti Ali Productions. The role I was playing was that of a psycho who used to molest his 12-year-old niece every night but had no memories the next day about the previous night. You could say the character had a split personality. Though the uncle loved his niece very much, he could not control himself and ended up abusing her everynight. When she revealed it to her mother, the latter did not pay heed. One day, in desperation, the girl prayed to the goddess for liberation from her terrible plight. And she met with a road mishap on her way home and died. Eventually, she got ‘mukti.’ The short film is presently being screened at several film festivals.”
On sharing screen space with actors like Akshay Kumar, he says, “Akshay Kumar is a humble person apart from being known for his punctuality. He respects every team member of his film. I played the role of the judge’s assistant in the movie Rustom.”
RASHMI REKHA DAS, OP