Kolkata: After playing Kedar Chatterjee in his debut film ‘Dadar Kirti’ in 1980, veteran actor and former Trinamool Congress MP Tapas Pal wanted to reinvent himself as Khogen Dutta, not a politician, through the movie ‘Banshi’.
Struggling for the last four years to clean up his image after being arrested in the Rose Valley chit-fund scam in December 2016, Pal agreed to act in ‘Banshi’ and completed most of its shooting just three months ago.
But before the shoots could be totally wrapped up, Pal died of a cardiac arrest on Tuesday in a Mumbai hospital.
Pal is survived by his wife Nandini, who is a contestant in this year’s Bigg Boss Bangla, and their daughter Sohini, also an actor.
Pal, who was in Mumbai to visit his daughter, complained of chest pain at the airport during his return to Kolkata and was rushed to a hospital in Juhu but died around 4 am, family sources said. He had been suffering from heart ailments and been to hospitals several times for treatment over the past two years.
Directed by Tuhin Sinha and Rahul Das, Pal was playing the role of Khogen Dutta and had told the entire production-direction team that he wanted to return to the Bengali movie industry through this movie.
Sinha described Pal as a superstar of the Bengali movie industry.
“We felt that he was lost somewhere in politics. In October 2019, we approached Tapas Da and requested him to play the role of Khogen Dutta,” he said, adding that Pal had asked if he actually wanted him in the movie.
“He broke down and told me that no one offers him a movie anymore,” said Sinha, recalling how Pal had once pleaded with him to make him an actor again.
“No one offers me a movie. I don’t want to see my face in the mirror as a politician. I don’t even want to see a politician’s face on television. I want to see my face as an actor again,” Sinha recalled Pal as saying.
Sinha recalls Pal pleading with God for more time, so he could work more as an actor. “I want to come back as a star again,” he recalled the actor as saying in one of the shooting sessions.
The movie was due for launch this month and Sinha had called Pal in Mumbai and requested him to complete the pending shooting and dubbing.
“He told me that he is not keeping well,” said Sinha. “So we decided to wait as we wanted to discuss another movie ‘Oshomapto Premer Golpo’ (never-ending lover story) with him. Unfortunately, he is no more.”
Sinha said Pal was trying to live a new life through movies.
Veteran actress Debashree Roy was inconsolable when she heard the news of Pal’s demise, describing it as an irreparable loss.
Poet and Bengali filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta said Pal had not being keeping well for the last few months. “But we never thought he will be unable to recover from the trauma he faced,” he said. “It is a personal loss to me. He was a good human being.”
Ranjit Mallick described Pal’s death as "untimely", adding he is yet to come to terms with the news.
Born on September 29, 1958, Pal made his debut in Bengali cinema at the age of 22 and shot to fame with his debut film Dadar Kirti, which was critically acclaimed, in 1980. Soon, Pal emerged as the blue-eyed boy of the Tollywood industry and managed to garner a huge fanfare.
Pal won accolades for films like Saheb (1981), Parabat Priya (1984), Bhalobasa Bhalobasa (1985), Anurager Choyan (1986), Amar Bandhan (1986) and Guru Dakshina (1987). Pal won a Filmfare Award for his role in Saheb. Pal also worked in Bollywood films. He was also cast opposite Madhuri Dixit in his first Bollywood movies “Abodh”.
A two-term MP from Krishnanagar and MLA from Alipore, Pal was one of the first actors to add sheen to the TMC with his star power in the 2009 assembly elections in West Bengal that decimated the Left Front and elected Mamata Banerjee as the Chief Minister of the state.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Pal won from the Krishnanagar Lok Sabha constituency on a Trinamool Congress ticket. That year, Pal had raked up a storm with his comments where he threatened to kill CPI(M) workers on camera and have their women raped if any of his party workers were attacked.
Pal was arrested in 2016 by the CBI for his alleged involvement in Rose Valley group chit fund scam and he was questioned for 4 hours. Pal was believed to be a former director with the Rose Valley group. Pal, was granted bail after 13 months and hence remained away from films.
The Rose Valley Group chit fund scam is believed to be allegedly bigger than the Saradha one.