I Do Politics For Films, Not Films For Politics.: Dev


By Atanu Roy: His film 'Tonic' got released yesterday and today is his birthday. One of the biggest superstars of the Bengali film industry and Member of Parliament Deepak Adhikari aka Dev shared his thoughts on films and politics:

Q: How did you first get acquainted with the word tonic?

Dev: We have been hearing the word tonic since childhood. Clean water tonic, vocal tonic, alcohol was also called tonic many times. The doctors of that time used to say, take two teaspoons of this tonic. This is how I got acquainted with the word tonic.


Q: And now 'Tonic' is a film?

Dev: Yes. This film will change the meaning of the tonic a lot. This film will show that tonic is not just medicine or alcohol. The main reason I agreed to do this film was that I liked the title very much. Before listening to the script, I asked, what is tonic? I was told that the name of the film is 'Tonic'. It took me two minutes. Two questions were added. After hearing the name of my character Tonic, I wanted to know again, Tonic 'what'? I was told there was no surname, just Tonic. I liked it very much. I have never heard of Tonic as a name. And that's how my relationship with 'Tonic' the film started.


Q: You played a boy next door here. Has the 'Down to the Earth' thing in you somehow helped you to become the character?

Dev: I've deconstructed myself several times over the years. I’m not here to do the same kind of character. You look at my previous film. Nagendra Prasad Sarbadhikari of 'Golandaaj' is a man who speaks very little. But Tonic is like me. He wants to love, laughs, motivate, wants to help people. So you can say that it became easy for me to get into the character because I have these things in me.


Q: You recently helped Jhilik, a girl from Uluberia, but kept the matter a secret. What motivates you to do these things?

Dev: I came from a poor family. None of my parents was in the film industry. So the hardships that we see in front of our eyes today, we have also gone through these. When I came to Kolkata to struggle, I did not have much money. I used to travel in the metro. I had to think ten times to get in the taxi. I used to think if I could save 20 bucks by not having a taxi then I can eat some good food with that. We have been calculating these monetary things all our lives. Today, almighty has given me a little space, a little respect. I believe, people can never improve alone. How big a star I am should be proved by my work and not by my bank balance. God will give you more if you can spread it among others. But it is also true that I cannot help everyone. Not that I can help Jhilik in every way. But believe me, five more called me when they found out I was helping. Some said he would pay 5000 bucks, some said he would pay 2000 bucks. As I got into the matter, five more people joined her. That's the big deal for me.


Q: But why so much privacy?

Dev: I've always wanted to be in the background. I just want to come forward with my film. I don't want to be in the front line in politics either. I'm fine on the rear bench. But I always look after how many people I can help. People found out about me during the pandemic but I was always like that. Whenever someone comes to me I try not to return him empty-handed. We have only one life. And in these two years, Pandemic has shown us how uncertain human life is.


Q: What did Pandemic teach you?

Dev: Pandemic has made it clear to me that it doesn't matter how much money I have in my bank account. I have also seen people who offered me a one crore rupee for an injection. He told me, "Ask the Chief Minister or the Governor to arrange the injection. You can do it." The one who could not get a bed in the hospital may have the power to build a hospital. The one who was not getting oxygen may have the ability to make an oxygen plant. So where is the value of money? Relationships come forward when needed. People are helping you based on how you treat people. At that time my phone was open all night. I tried my best to help people in any way I could. But not everything is in my hands. I realised that my relationships are my real asset. If I ask you for a favour, you would only do it if maintained a good relationship with you.


Q: You keep yourself entirely involved with all your films even in the meeting of the songs. Is it also for the sake of relationships?

Dev: I always think of films as teamwork. Like everyone else, I am also responsible for everything good or bad, of a film. So I try to be as involved as possible.


Q: How much do you get back from your cast and crew when you make a film as a producer?

Dev: Now the situation has changed a lot. Now it is more important to save the industry than to save an individual. It has become clear to everyone. We are not in the same situation as before. Now if everyone is allied, we will all survive. If not, nobody will.


Q: The cinema medium is slowly shifting to OTT. What is the future of Bengali cinema?

Dev: Cinema will never die. The cinematic experience will be the same. Rather, luxury will increase. Did we ever think we could eat Chinese food at the cinema hall? But it is happening now. Earlier, we had to go out at intervals to buy food while watching film on a single screen. I miss those days.


Q: Single screen reminds me of another thing, 'Ticket Black'. Have you ever bought ticket from Blackers?

Dev: Yeah, many times.


Q: Later, when you saw tickets of your films are being sold on 'Black', how did you feel?

Dev: I will not lie, it's a great feeling. At that time almost all my film's tickets were sold in black. Tickets of 20 rupees were sold for 250 bucks. This is the biggest achievement of any artist that his films are becoming houseful in advance.


Q: Once you worked as an observer in Mumbai. Have you ever wanted to work in Hindi or South Indian films?

Dev: You have to be satisfied somewhere. I understand one thing very clearly. I believe, better a poor horse than no horse at all. I don't want to belittle anyone. Look, I'm in my place with enough respect now. I will think if I get anything above this. If I get something more than this or I get something completely different then I will think. If not, I'm fine here. I did 'Golandaaj'. 'Tonic' also got released. 'Kishmish' will come later. I am making films like 'Kachher Manush'. If everyone goes to Mumbai, who will look after the Bengali industry?


Q: Some work could have been done without leaving...

Dev: If the offer is good and I think that if I do that the place of Bengali film will not be hampered and the respect of Bengali film will increase then I will definitely do it.


Q: Didn't you want to make a good web series in your production?

Dev: Look, as a producer, I'm a one-man army. I can't handle so much alone. At the end of the day, there is no time at hand. I don't know what will happen in the future but now I'm just good with films.


Q: Many people want to create controversy by standing at this time. Thinking that there could be a political controversy, you changed the lyrics of a song of your movie 'Hobu Chandra Raja Gobu Chandra Mantri'. Why didn't producer Dev take the opportunity of controversy?

Dev: I have no second thoughts on this. I am clear in my thinking. I will not sell my film through any kind of politics. I do politics for films, not films for politics. It's not like that as I'm an MP, so I get films.
If I weren't 'Dev' today, would anyone give me a ticket? I sincerely believe that there are many more good candidates in Ghatal who will do a lot better than me. I would like to thank Didi for giving me this opportunity. But I also try not to tarnish the image of the party.
This is my responsibility too. I keep in mind that no one can say bad things to TMC or Mamata Banerjee for any of my behaviour. I also don't want to hear any other party say that Dev wanted to send a wrong message about us by making the picture. And let my party also understand that, as an MP for eight years, what I have done has given the party a good reputation and has not done anything bad for the party.


Q: Before coming into politics, you have done 'macha' shows all over the state. You also did it in your Lok Sabha constituency. When 'Superstar' Dev became an MP and went to that place, how much did the reception change?

Dev: Let me give you an example. When we were campaigning for the 2021 Assembly Elections, people flocked to every one of my meetings. I had to say over and over again that they all should wear masks, no one would come without masks.
Not only the people of my party have come, but the people of all the political parties have also come. I am saying without making anyone belittle, there were no people in the meeting of many. When we released the music of 'Tonic' in a mall a few days ago, there were so many people that I did not expect.


Q: Does that mean Dev's stardom hasn't waned a bit? What do you think?

Dev: You could say that Dev has worked hard for eight years to maintain his image. In the meantime, some of them may have created some 'quote-unquote' controversy. I have tried my best not to hurt anyone. I have never asked anyone who has asked me for help that what party they belong to. I did not ask Jhilik who his father voted for. And that's what it should be.


Q: Have you been so confident in politics from the beginning?

Dev: You wouldn't believe it, when my name was first announced as a candidate in 2014, some of my close persons came home and said, 'Your career will be over'. 'Look what happened to Amitabh Bachchan!', 'Look what happened to Rajnikanth!' I have heard all this. And today, when I say that I will not contest in the election, those people are coming to me and saying, 'No, don't leave politics! You have a lot to give to politics, we were wrong '.


Q: You have charisma. People listen to you. How many people have you been able to inspire that if they want to do politics for the people, they have to do it just like you?


Dev: No, I didn't. This is not my responsibility either. It is the responsibility of the party which is issuing the ticket. It is entirely up to them as to why the party that is giving the ticket is giving and why the person who is taking the ticket is taking it. Besides, I am not right in all cases. My attendance in Parliament is still very low. I do not live there.
People today are not talking about my faults because they love me. But I realize that as an MP, I have a lot of shortcomings. The effort I give for the promotion of my films, as an MP I can't give it. It is a different matter that people have no complaints about it.


Q: Why people are not complaining? What do you think?

Dev: I think people have understood that whatever the drought-flood, Dev is always by the side of the people of Ghatal. They may have realized that this is the first person who went to the parliament and spoke about the people of Ghatal in Bengali.
This is the age of social media. A few days ago, I was able to get a road sanctioned from the centre there. For that road, I have apologized to the people. I apologized on Facebook. I wrote that, I'm sorry. We are trying to fix the road as soon as possible.
I have been told by a journalist that no MLA or MP has apologized before. We have got the allocation of Rs 700 crore for the four lanes with the concrete road from Panskura to Ghatal.


Q: We've seen a lot of honest politicians on screen in films. Ever seen a politician on the screen and thought that it would be nice to be like this man?

Dev: I think politics is very difficult. It is very easy to sit outside and comment. I'm not talking about any dada or didi. I have been watching for eight years, when the drain in front of someone's house is closed, it also becomes a political issue. People will abuse the ruling party for sure. But then no one will see that the drain has been jammed as a result of throwing plastic, bottles, polythene paper by themselves.
We have blocked the drains by throwing dirt so when it rains in Kolkata, it gets waterlogged. No didi or dada did that. But we blame the government for everything.
Earlier, I also did not respect politicians. I, like the general people, used to think it was all their fault. But now I realize that people have their responsibilities also. It is also teamwork. But the general people should also cooperate with the government. That way everything can run normally and in a healthy way.


Q: Dev, my last question to you. Is there more entertainment in the world of politics or is there more politics in the world of entertainment?

Dev: I'd rather say it a little differently. Politicians are better actors than actors. Nowadays, actors are acting much worse than politicians.


Q: Do you mean to say that there is no more politics in the world of entertainment?

Dev: Believe me, the entertainment industry is still very good in my opinion. There is no faith in politics anymore. There is no 'neeti' (ethics) in 'Raajneeti' (politics) today, only the 'raaj' (Rule) remains. Politics is a big word. And what is happening now? Someone is taking one flag before the election, another one after the election. Why? They are doing it because they have lost it. Everything is for the sake of personal interest. I see nothing but selfishness in politics.

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