Posts Tagged ‘Tollywood’

Ankit Seth with actor Bobby Chakraborty at an anti-addiction campaign called I am the King of My Mind

Ankit Seth with actor Bobby Chakraborty at an anti-addiction campaign

What’s an urban Indian child’s life like these days? The day starts with rushing to school with a back-breaking bag, cramming for constant tests and exams, shuttling between tuitions and activity classes then going to bed tired and drained, only to wake up the next day to follow the same old routine. Where are the playgrounds and where is the time for play? How many children have the freedom to just while away their time playing inane games? How many can do things they like doing?

In a scenario like this a boy like Ankit Seth is like a breath of fresh air. A student of South End Centre School (Howrah) Ankit is someone who has always been doing things differently. He is following his heart and making a difference in other students’ lives. He is devoting all his time for a cause he is passionate about.

A big kudos should go to Ankit’s parents for letting their son pursue his passion and to actor Bobby Chakraborty for showing him the way. Ankit is a young anti-addiction crusader who has been juggling his studies, his TV roles and his passion with a rare deftness.

Ankit can be an inspiration for kids today. Read his interview to know why…

You met Bobby on the sets of Mouchak when you were in Class II. How did you get involved in his anti-addiction campaign?

When I met Bobbydada on the set of Mouchak in 2013, I felt I found my best friend.  He was a great co-actor, guide and teacher too. I played his son in the serial, which was a great hit with the audience. I found him different from everyone else around. I used to watch his photos and videos when he used to go to schools and colleges for his campaigns. I used to see photos of other students who used to go with Bobbydada to schools and colleges as ‘active soldiers’. I understood and felt deep respect for his self less work that he does through his campaign I am the King of My Mind. I wanted to be a part of it and help the society too. But then in 2013 I was too young and Bobbydada said that he will make me an ‘active soldier’ when I grow older, which ultimately happened in 2016.

Ankit with Bobby on the sets of Mouchak. He was in Class II then.

Ankit with Bobby on the sets of Mouchak. He was in Class II then.

When was the first time you accompanied him on a campaign and how was the experience?

My debut as an ‘active soldier’ happened at Narayana School, Howrah in 2016 when I was in Class 5. The session had students much elder to me from Classes 8 9, 10. The main challenge was to get over my stage fright and convince older students with my views. They might not have paid any attention as I was just a kid of Class 5. But Bobbydada had trained me and guided me with my presentation so nicely that my presentation met with a huge round of applause. I felt encouraged to carry on. For how many years now you are with him in this campaign and how many schools have you visited? With 2019 it will be the fourth year as an ‘active soldier’ for me and till date I have been to 16 sessions.

Tell us about your best memories on this anti-addiction campaign trail…

There are many encouraging and inspiring incidents that I have experienced as an ‘’active soldier’, but the one that happened in Techno India group Public School, Bolpur, was really memorable. I was in the Class 6 at that time and I was addressing students as old as the Class 12 in the session. I think I gave my best and after the session, students much elder to me, actually made a queue to take a selfie with me and asked for my autograph.

What I mean is, this happens very often with Bobbydada, very naturally, because he is elder to all, he is a known face and he inspires everyone. But when the same thing happens to a kid like me, it proved that I was able to impress and inspire my elders with my point of view too.

Another one happened very recently in National Gems Higher secondary school, when almost every line I spoke, every incident I narrated about my life, every principle I believe in, was met with encouraging and loud claps which made me sure, I was able to connect with my generation.

You have been to a college too. Is it difficult to address people who are so much older than you?

Before going to my first session at a college (The Heritage College) Bobbydada had a special training session with me, keeping in mind that it will have students even elder to 12th graders this time and chances are more that they might not listen to me at all. When I started with my presentation there, I could feel they were really not interested but I was ready with all my tricks to make my presentation interesting and inspiring. After the session when I received appreciation from the Principal, the teachers, the CEO and the students, I felt satisfied and happy inside.

At Nava Nalanda, Shantiniketan

How do you prepare for the presentations?

There are intense rehearsal sessions before every session with Bobbydada. We keep in mind the strata of the society, the ambience, the general audience, the geographic location of a particular school or college and shape my presentation and the language of the interaction likewise. Possible improvisations are kept in mind and rehearsed too which might come in use during the session.

Have your peers ever laughed at you for your passion? How did you deal with it if anyone expressed doubts about your efforts?

All I understand is Bobbydada has taught me how important it is to be out of the herd, out of the crowd, against harmful popular trends to prove my identity and make my life worth it. Such a life is obviously found strange by all who would only follow others blindly without a reason or a question. But there in lies my pride as an ‘active soldier’, I don’t do what everyone does. I am making use of this life that God, my parents and Bobbydada have given me. So nothing else and no negativity matter.

Do you still act in serials?

Yes I do, but due to studies I had to cut down on offers on television because shooting on television is time consuming. At present I am shooting for Deepabolir Shatkaahon for Akash Bangla channel. My next film is due for release, which has Bobbydada in it too as my co-actor. It is Ek Je Achhe Shohor directed by Riingo Banerjee.

At Heritage College

How do you balance studies and all these activities?

My parents and Bobbydada have taught me time management. I plan everything and move ahead as per that plan. Studies of course are a priority, but if we can all do time management, we can take out time for our passion, hobbies, social responsibility and for pleasure too.

You will be in Class IX now, do you think you will be able to devote as much time to the campaign?

Yes I plan to carry on my support towards this cause till my last breath. Even if I can’t physically assist Bobbydada to a school or college, my work and effort to spread our mission will continue in one way or the other. If there is a will, there is a way.

I heard once you got bit by a scorpion but still went with Bobby for a session. How and why?

Yes it happened the day before we were scheduled to travel to Shantinekatan at Techno India Group Public School, Bolpur. I had to be taken to the hospital to drain off the poisoned area bitten by the scorpion.

My right foot was hugely swollen. I could hardly walk. Bobbydada and my parents asked me not to go to Bolpur. But I told them, if Bobbydada can do so much of hard work, not for money or any material gain I can bear this much of pain too.

I am happy I went and in that school, I think I gave my best presentation till date ,which I have already mentioned and it resulted into students much older to me, making a line for my autograph and selfie.

Ankit Seth telling peers how to say no to addiction

What is the satisfaction you get from doing this campaign?

It is a selfless job, not for money or for any material gains but to raise an awareness among boys and girls of my age, younger and older to me to lead a healthy life, believing in HCF- Health, Career and Family. Bobbydada always tells me that the easiest thing in life is to get lost in a crowd. Like Bobbydada I want to be a face in the crowd, I want to be an example to my generation, I want to make my life useful to the others and not only think about me and my selfish gains in life.

How do you want to take it further when you grow up?

I want to help Bobbydada in every way possible when I grow up to spread this mission all around the globe. I can feel that the support for this much needed awareness is very, very less, even if we are doing it for free!! I find this very strange! Nevertheless we have come a long way with whatever support we are getting from schools and colleges here or abroad. I want to make sure this support increases, as I grow up.

What do you think you have gained out of your efforts?

As an ‘active soldier’, I have found a huge change in my personality. Previously when used to tell people, not to smoke, drink or if I went to a hookah bar, they used to shut me up. But after I have become an ‘active soldier’ and they listen to me now with a lot more importance. I have become a more confident person. I find a purpose in my life. I was able to change someone in my family from the bad habits …and lastly I have gained Bobbydada in my life.

What kind of support do you get from your parents?

If my father Mr Sekhar Seth and my mother Mrs Sima Seth, had not supported me and encouraged me to do something good for the society through this awareness drive by Bobbydada, I would have been just any other kid, studying, watching cartoons and hanging around with friends only.

What would be your advice to people of your age regarding studies, extra-curricular activities and being the “King of their mind”?

I want to tell my generation is believe in the formula HCF….If your Health is ok…you will have a good Career…which will keep your Family happy.

I want to tell them to rule their minds and control their minds. I AM THE KING OF MY MIND should be our mantra.

I want to ask them 3 questions:

(1) why should you waste your parents money on poison when you have 101 constructive and charitable ways to spend it?

(2) When someone like Bobbydada, coming from the glamour world, getting everything free can control himself from this poison and yet be ‘cool’ and ‘fashionable’ why can’t we all control ourselves?

(3) When the manufacturers themselves are writing on their own products like cigarettes, alcohol, gutkha that IT IS POISON AND INJURIOUS TO HEALTH, why will you still buy it? What is your education and intelligence for?

I would ask them to join our Facebook group ‘MY ANTI ADDICTION CAMPAIGN’ and spread good vibes in the society.

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Bengali actress Koneenica Banerjee

Bengali actress Koneenica Banerjee

When I was working as an entertainment journalist in Kolkata I was always fascinated by Bengali actress Koneenica Banerjee’s in-your-face honesty when she talked about the perils women face in filmdom. Koneenica never had any qualms about admitting that she got “casting couch” propositions every other day and because she turned them down she often didn’t get roles.

The girl – who shot to fame with the role of Pakhi in the superhit Bengali serial Ek Akasher Niche went on to do memorable roles in a number of Bengali films and serials – also decided to try her luck in Mumbai. With an impressive CV she was brimming with confidence that her work would speak for her. On the contrary while standing at the endless queues at the auditions everyday she realized Mumbai was a different ballgame altogether.

Bollywood actress Jiah Khan committed suicide on June 3, 2013 by hanging herself

Bollywood actress Jiah Khan committed suicide on June 3, 2013 by hanging herself

When I asked her about what she thought of the suicide of Jiah Khan, Koneenica told me over phone from Kolkata, “I know what she felt because I have gone through the exact situation. I am no one to judge why she did this but if media reports are to be believed Jiah Khan was depressed about lack of roles and at the same time a letter written by her talks about the pain she felt for the demise of her relationship with her boyfriend. I have faced rejection day in and day out and I plunged into depression after my break-up. When I finally came back to Kolkata from Mumbai I couldn’t go out or speak to people for months.”

Here is what Koneenica told me: 

“In Bollywood if you sleep with 10,000 men it does not ensure you a role”

If you are an aspiring actress every man in the industry – from the spot boy to the top producer – wants to sleep with you with the promise of a role. But even after that there is no guarantee that the role will come. Most often it doesn’t.

I am an actress and not a prostitute”

It is true that nobody rapes you in the film industry and it is your choice if you want to warm up anyone’s bed. But now more than a choice it has become something like a norm. But what I find ridiculous is if women are with men they are quickly branded as “bad women” and talked about while men get away with the light tag of “industry playboy”.

I have chosen not to bow down to this norm and have suffered immensely. But I have ensured a peaceful night’s sleep that way although I have been called a “jobless actress” many times.

 “One influential man with connections in the film industry asked me if I was a virgin”

One powerful man even asked me that why am I behaving like a virgin in a place like the film industry. I told him on his face that I just didn’t like him so I refused to be with him. I was laughing to myself in my heart because I knew about his waning influence in the film industry although he tried hard to convince me that he had the real passport to my fame in Mumbai. I know there are plenty of women who still believe him.

Koneenica at a recent photoshoot. (Photograph taken from her Facebook page)

Koneenica at a recent photoshoot. (Photograph taken from her Facebook page)

If Hrithik comes up with a proposition I will definitely consider it”

I don’t want to project myself as a Sati Savitri (pure chaste woman). But the thought of being with ugly, pot bellied men, with no knack for a conversation is truly repulsive. It is repulsive to think that I will be with these men to get a role, and as I said earlier, a role that does not come with a “guarantee card”. But if someone like Hrithik Roshan or Brad Pitt tells me the same in return for a role it is definitely worth considering.

“During my almost 4 years stay in Mumbai I went for more than 800 auditions”

While in Mumbai I did one telefilm, one reality show called Sarkaar Ki Duniya and a few ad films but I must say every audition was a harrowing experience. I had to stand in long queues all through the day and then people handling the auditions often had no respect for us and misbehaved. As the days passed by I realized that when they were looking for a new face acting prowess was the last thing on their mind. But after an audition sometimes it happened that they pulled a chair for me and offered me water and spoke respectfully. I think that was my moment of truth and I would cherish those moments. Of course, the role always went to someone with good connections. Chances were no one standing in that long queue got the role.

“Being alone in Mumbai is the toughest thing”

After a day like this where you are pushed and shoved at every audition when I came back to an empty home I felt the walls came to gobble me up. Then money was a major issue. I had to count every penny and spend carefully. Something I was not used to doing in my fairly cushy home in Bhowanipore in Kolkata. Also it is very hard to find real friends in Mumbai who would care for you without a motive.

When I used to have differences with my ex-boyfriend he would often tell me I had gone mad but I never told him anything of that sort in return. I knew he lived alone and it was extremely upsetting to go back to an empty home and keep questioning your own sanity and credibility.

“Sometimes I have been mentally tortured”

This has happened in Kolkata even when directors have misbehaved with me on the sets and told me I am not good enough. They have compared me with other actresses and told me they were better.

But thankfully I have had directors who have told me that they are my fan. I choose to cherish those words and ignore the rest.

“My family saved me from the brink”

By God’s grace I have a family who were always with me even when I was alone in Mumbai. I could pick up the phone and talk anytime to my mother, sister, uncle or father. I think this connection helped me immensely. I always knew that whatever happened I could go back to Kolkata, to my home, and I would not be judged by my family.

With time your perspective of life changes. When I was going through these phases I started questioning myself if I am the one who is running against the tide? I read up books, I did meditation and reiki and realized that at the end of the day I have to be at peace with myself. Now that I am back in Kolkata I am also thankful to have some true friends.

I have never contemplated suicide”

After being constantly rejected in the film industry and having a break-up with my boyfriend my confidence reached the nadir. But I always believe in re-incarnation and my soul is the only connection with God and I have no right to harm this soul. Now that I am in a better place mentally I know I have to stay mentally and physically fit for my own good.

“If my life is a book I want to read till the end”

Every experience, be it bad or good, teaches you something and enriches you. I think my experiences make me the person I am. I don’t believe in giving up and I have to read the book till the end to know how it all ended. I want to know what the future finally has in store for me.

(Koneenica has recently worked in two Bengali films Kapurush O Mahapurush and Ganesh Talkies.)