Das kapital!

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A versatile Indian-origin actor is making inroads into Australia’s film industry

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Described as ‘sensitive and dangerous’ for his portrayal of characters in his reel life, in reality, this Queensland actor of Indian origin bares little semblance to those roles. Warm, approachable and chatty, Kaushik Dasgupta, all of 33 years of age, starred as Dr Ron in Daddy’s Little Girl (2012) and as Ghazi Malouf in Agent Elite (2012). The versatile actor talks to Indian Link about his ongoing journey as an actor in Australia.

Kaushik aka ‘Das’, says, “I do take pride in my roots, but at the same time I like to be ethnically ambiguous; that’s why I’m called ‘Das’.  I try to keep some mystery about myself in this business”. He cites an example of American actor Kal Penn, born Kalpen Suresh Modi who bagged more roles when he took on the screen name of ‘Kal Penn’.

Das’s passion for acting developed over the years. As a child he would connect with the mirror, gyrating to Bollywood songs.

“Dancing to Disco Dancer was a family affair, I would gather all my family members and perform a dance for them,” he reveals with a smile.

Coming from a conservative Bengali family, Das’s father hoped his son would be a lawyer someday. Das went on to pursue Law at the University of Queensland, and while studying he worked at the criminal courts as an instructing clerk. It was during this time that he had a career-changing realisation.

“It had become a game for some lawyers, as to how many people they could get behind bars without considering the real human cost of what they were doing,” explains Das.  “The flippancy of it all, perhaps from being desensitized to crime, didn’t sit well with me.  That’s not to say there aren’t many great lawyers out there doing a passionate wonderful job – that was simply my limited experience”.

He then took a short stint at a job with a bank, but he soon realised he was unhappy with what he was doing there as well.

“In 2007, I began flirting with acting, more as a pastime, as I had never lost the spark for acting all along”.

He began daydreaming about how good it would be just to live a life pursuing his passion. Das started his career with casual acting, featuring as an extra: he took on roles such as a Turkish prisoner, parliamentary guard and a gym member in various TV series.

Das later graduated with an Advance Diploma in Screen and Stage Acting from the Actor’s Conservatory in 2010, and also trained at the Queensland branch of the Melbourne-based Film and Television Institute in 2012, for a year. His parents were supportive of his decision to become an actor, as they realised it was a “mind-body connection” for him. Acting was a labour of love.

It was during his training that Das came across his mentors, actors Mirko Grillini and Joss McWilliam.

“They instilled a belief in me that I could go on in this industry for a very long time,” says Das. “Mirko understood ethnicity as he was an Italian himself”.

His inception as an actor started off with graduate student productions, and he offers this as advice to future actors.

“Associate yourself with student groups, as this would be a good training ground and also provide a platform for networking opportunities with film makers,” he states.

Das took on the lead character of ‘Roger’ in Celluloid Heaven (2011) made by the Griffith School, and went on to act in more graduate productions. The break came when he was noticed and recommended by a casting director to work in the independent movie, Daddy’s Little Girl.

A horror thriller based on child abduction, the movie was directed by Chris Sun and shot at the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. Das played Dr Ron, a close friend and doctor of a family who have their lives turned around by the disappearance of their little girl. The movie has also won international acclaim and recognition in 2012, winning ‘best film’ at the Polygrind Las Vegas Premier Underground Film Festival, a special jury prize at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival and a screening of the movie in Cannes. It will soon be distributed Australia-wide in DVD/Blu-ray.

Soon after, Agent Elite directed by James Richards released in 2012, in which Das played the role of Ghazi Malouf, an intellectual who travels the world giving sermons to poison Western ideology. His private life involves many illegal activities that make him a high security threat and target. The film won ‘best foreign film’ at the Action on Film International Film Festival in Los Angeles. The movie was also showcased at the Gold Coast Film Festival in January 2013.

“All the sweat and toil had finally paid off,” says Das with a smile. “It felt good to walk the red carpet”.

Commenting on working with independent film productions, he says, “I enjoy the wide range of experience they offer, and really I value my time as an actor in these films”.

So has Das broken through the barrier into the mainstream industry?

“I have not broken into the mainstream industry as yet,” he says, with a shake of his head. “I have to knock on the door very hard. I am still evolving as an actor”.

With varied upcoming projects, Das has his hands full at the moment; the makers of Agent Elite will be casting him in their new venture titled Hostile. His character is that of a warlord mercenary, is all he can reveal at the moment. Das will also be seen in Next Step, a series directed by Bradley Murmane and Plan, an independent short film written by Amanda and Mirko Grillini. He recently played the role of an Indian shopkeeper in a student production movie titled Bubble Bandit, directed by Brent Dunner, which may screen at this year’s Tropfest.

When asked about tapping the Indian film industry, Das says, “I need to build my work profile before delving into the Indian market. I am very keen about taking my career forward and seek prospects in this industry, including Indian regional cinema”.

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