Jitendra Kumar on Chaman Bahaar and Panchayat Season 2
The actor talks paan-making, conveying emotions silently and the returning season of Panchayat
In Chaman Bahaar, Jitendra Kumar plays Billu, a young man who opens a paan shop against the wishes of his father. His slack business picks up pace when a teenage girl moves into the house opposite his shop. Hordes of boys start thronging his roadside kiosk, hoping to catch a glimpse of Rinku (Ritika Badlani). Billu, however, is torn between his rising fortunes and his silent infatuation with Rinku. He starts approaching her with greeting cards — to little avail. The plot gets curdled when the son of a local politician, a rich sports store owner and a policeman join the mix.
Completed in 2018, Chaman Bahaar was meant to be Jitendra’s feature debut. The film is directed by Apurva Dhar and produced by Yoodlee Films. The Chattisgarh-set comedy was released on Netflix on June 19, following Jitendra’s recent successes with Shubh Mangal Zyaada Saavdhan and Panchayat.
“This was the first film I signed,” the actor shares. “When we see one-sided romances in our movies, they are all ‘failed’ love stories. A hero tries to win over the girl and fails. In Chaman Bahaar, my character makes no attempt at all. It’s an internal failure that the director has tried to fantasise and portray on screen.”
The film was shot in Lormi and Raipur. Jitendra had to learn the Chhattisgarhi dialect and slangs. He was coached in paan-making by a local expert. “The first few people who tasted my paan got sores,” he laughs. It was also important to familiarise himself with local attitudes and mores. “I interacted with the local kids a lot. Though I had very few scenes at the village school, I spent a whole day there to get a sense of how they think.”
Jitendra was enthusiastic about conveying emotions silently. He cites Charlie Chaplin, Dilip Kumar, Kamal Haasan, Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, and Irrfan Khan as masters of silent acting. “Dilip saab’s films have great pauses. In Saudagar (1973), Amit ji played wonderfully with silences. The same goes for Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol in the later portions of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Of course, music and framing play an equally important part in such scenes.”
With three releases in 2020 so far, Jitendra is excited to get back to work. “We are at the writing stage of Panchayat Season 2 and some other shows,” he says. “I’m waiting for the situation to recover so we can go on floors.”