Regarded as one of the best serious actors of contemporary Indian cinema, Anjan Dutt is a Bengali actor, singer-songwriter, and director. Anjan, who began his career as an actor with the movie Chalachitro, is an established singer-songwriter and has directed acclaimed movies such as Ranjana Ami Ar Ashbona (2011)
and The Bong Connection (2006).
Anjan was born in North Bengal and completed his schooling from St. Paul`s School, Darjeeling. While growing up he was never exposed to the traditional Bengali music but he would listen to folk and country music, which later in his life became a premise for his music career. As a child, Anjan had no plans to pursue singing as a career, in fact, his father, a solicitor, wanted him to study law. However, Anjan was also inclined towards performing arts and later, while he was pursuing his MA degree in English literature, he began working in theaters alongside Badal Sarkar, an acclaimed theater director.
Anjan began working with the group called `Open Theatre` in the 1970s and during the `80s he was a part of various plays, which were translated works of acclaimed playwrights such as Peter Weiss, Sartre, and Jean Genet. While the group was popular for its plays, it faced many obstructions due to their politically sensitive content and eventually it had to be discontinued.
As an Actor
While Anjan was an active theater artist, in the early `80s he got a surprising break on the silver screen with the movie Chaalchitra (1981) directed by Mrinal Sen
. His debut movie fetched him the Best Newcomer award and his performance was critically appreciated at the Venice Film Festival. However, for reasons unknown the movie never got a commercial release in India. The following year he appeared in his second Bengali movie, Kharij, directed by Mrinal Sen, which yet again received international recognition winning the Jury Prize at the 1983 Cannes Film Festival.
In 1989 he was seen in a small role in the Hindi movie Ek Din Achanak - Anjan would go on to make his Hindi directorial debut almost a decade later with the movie Badadin (1998). Several years later, in 1994, Anjan won the Bengal Film Journalists` Association Best Actor Award for his role in the movie Shilpi directed by Nabyendu Chattopadhyay. Although Anjan did appear in several commercial films, he was more inclined towards art films. However, several of his art films, which received international acclaim, weren`t commercially successful in India and the scarcity of jobs also forced him to work in the advertising field. Later, he worked as a journalist for The Statesman, a Kolkata based daily.
In 2002 he appeared in the critically and commercially acclaimed movie Mr. and Mrs. Iyer directed by Aparna Sen
. For the next few years, Anjan directed a few films and in 2009 he directed and acted in the movie Madly Bangalee
. In the subsequent years, Anjaan
appeared in critically acclaimed movies such as Mahanagar@Kolkata (2010)
, Ranjana Ami Ar Asbona
(2011), which he also directed, Chitrangada
: The Crowning Wish (2012).
After 2012, Anjan focused more on directing films and since then has appeared in movies such as Dutta Vs Dutta (2012)
, Sesh Bole Kichhu Nei
(2012), Nirbaak (2015)
, and Saheb Biwi Golaam (2016). His 2019 release includes Shah Jahan Regency and Satyanweshi Byomkesh.
As a Director
Anjan made his directorial debut with the Hindi movie Bada Din in 1998, which stars Marc Robinson, Tara Deshpande, and Shabana Azmi
. Six years later he made his Bengali directorial debut with the movie Bow Barracks Forever (2004)
, a film that highlights the difficulties faced by the Anglo-Indians in retaining their identity since the end of British India. In the next four years he directed two films-The Bong Connection (2006), a movie based on the lives of Bengalis living in the US, and Chalo Let`s Go
While Anjan was filming The Bong Connection in Houston, USA, he received a lot of help from the acclaimed American independent filmmaker San Banarje
. Overwhelmed by Banarje`s help, Anjan became his fan and next made the movie Madly Bangalee (2009)
wherein the name of the protagonist is San Banarje while Anjan himself portrayed the role of a young fan of the filmmaker San Banerjee. Journalist, Anirban De stated: "I just don`t know how to express the varied emotions that blended all too well in bringing to life the music mania that has been haunting the Bengali rock crazy cult through the ages. Anjan Dutt`s `Madly Bangalee` is no doubt more than a mere tribute to the passion of rock and Neel Dutt
compliments the passion by compiling an ensemble of entrancing numbers enriched by the voices of Anjan Dutt himself, Nachiketa Chakraborty
, Rupam Islam
and Arko -the latter`s `Mere Maula` being the most captivating of the lot. Indraneel Mukherjee`s cinematography adds up to the romance".
In 2010 he directed the movie, Byomkesh Bakshi
, a detective movie based on the popular fictional character Byomkesh Bakshi created by Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay
. He later released three sequels to the movie Abar Byomkesh (2012), Byomkesh Phire Elo (2014)
, Byomkesh Bakshi (2015) and Byomkesh O Chiriyakhana
(2016). Anjan`s next movie Ranjana Ami Ar Ashbona
(2011), a musical rock drama, went on to win three National Awards including Best Feature Film in Bengali. However, one of Anjan`s career-best movies came in the year 2012 - Dutta Vs Dutta
, a semi-autobiographical film based on Anjan`s life. The film upon its release received positive reviews and several critics including Sangeeta Bandopadhyay believed it was Anjan`s best work. In the next few years Anjan directed movies such as Ganesh Talkies
(2015), and Saheb Biwi Golam. His 2016 release includes the movie Hemanta
, a modern-day adaptation of William Shakespeare`s Hamlet.
As a Singer-Songwriter
Anjan finds his influences in artists such as Bob Dylan and Siman Chatterjee. His style of music is reminiscent of western folk music and also incorporates shades of blues, bluegrass, country, and folk music. He has released several singles and also sang songs for movies such as Bow Barracks Forever
and Chalo Let`s Go
As a singer, Anjan released his debut album in the year 1994 titled `Shunte Ki Chao`. In the following years, he released several albums including Keu Gaan Gaye (1997), Hello Bangladesh (1999), Asamoy (2000), Abar Pothe Dekha (2007), and Unoshaat (2014).