For film producer Pawan Kanoria its deja vu at the sets of Tope (The Bait). Directed by the highpriest of Indian movies Buddhadeb Dasgupta the film is currently being shot in the picturesque settings of Purulia. And Kanoria is quietly collecting praises from the director for his acting prowess. What convinced Dasgupta to take the producer as part of his cast was a steller career that the man left behind him.
For Pawan Kanoria movie making is not just a business, but a passion. Having been groomed by theatre stalwarts like Shyamanand Jalan, Ranjit Kapoor, Satyajit Dubey and Usha Ganguly, role play is a part of his existence. “I play Balai in this film. Balai is the man Friday for the king as well as his confidant and friend of sorts. He does everything the king asks to do, but is straightforward and speaks his mind out no matter what,” says Kanoria, after the first stint of shooting at Purulia.
Tope or THE BAIT, authored by Late Narayan Gangopadhyay is considered an all time outstanding short story of Bengali Literature. Eminent critics have rated it as one of the ten best short stories ever written in Bengali. The story has been translated to other Indian and foreign languages. The story, TOPE (The Bait) centres around Randeep Raj, a middle aged handsome man and a descendant of the royal family, and his quest to give a pair of shoes made of tiger skin to his lady love.
“Buddhadeb Babu is a stickler for perfection. He will settle for nothing less than the best. He has been as strict with me as any other actor. My character demanded me shepherding two buffaloes across the glade and he made me do it till I felt rustic from inside,” he added.
Kanoria actually began his acting career in class VIII when he played the hero in school drama ‘Prastab’ under the direction of Usha Ganguly. That was his first brush with acting. He joined Rangakarmi in 1977 and then Anamika Kala Sangam with Shyamanand Jalan. It was with this thespian of Hindi theatre that he produced his first Tele-series ‘Simana Chariye’ in 1988. Two years later he did his first movie Mon Mane Na with Prosenjit Chatterjee. He has launched Raima Sen, given break to directors like Inder Sen and Raj Mukherjee.
“I dont act to earn a living. Its a passion. The craving of playing a character never dies in an actor. I have done so many roles on the stage and so acting once again gives me a high. I am grateful to Buddhadeb Babu who thought i was fit for the role. Its like going back to where i began,” he added.
Producing movies is a way of life for Kanoria, but perhaps the bait of acting is a bigger motivation.