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A socially conscious actor and his fight against addiction  

Bobby Chakraborty is changing young lives through his anti-addiction campaign.

By Radha Mishra
Updated on :

While we have several examples of people losing their lives due to drugs and alcohol addiction in the glamour industry, here is someone from the same society, setting a whole new example. Bengali film actor-turned-social activist Bobby Chakraborty’s main aim is to keep young boys and girls off addiction.

Drug abuse is a major issue in the country and no one can understand it better than a person who lost his loved one due to the same menace. A painful personal incident left the young actor so shattered that he decided to fight against the whole addiction thing and tackled it from the grassroots level. “My own experience and loss in my family made me determined to save as many lives possible. If not much, at least try instead of referring to the problem in drawing rooms,” Bobby tells Newsd.

“I watched my uncle, a very talented boy falling prey to the addiction. He died at the age of 29, leaving a big hole of destruction within the family. It shook me because he was my role model, my best friend. I realized money, education, power, establishment, doesn’t make someone superhuman. If a person abuses his or her body, their family is going to pay the price.”

It is with this thought that Bobby started his movement of spreading awareness amongst young adolescents. Born into an affluent family in Kolkata, Bobby is spearheading his war against drug and substance abuse for years now. He leads an extensive awareness programme – a sort of a workshop of two hours against addiction and substance abuse of all kinds including cigarettes, alcohol, gutkha, etc. His mission is aimed at students primarily of class six and above.

“It is a workshop that teaches the value of Health, Career, Family (HCF), which are interrelated. This workshop has a tagline, ‘I AM THE KING OF MY MIND’, which teaches the necessity to rule the mind and control it towards a better living, not only against addiction, but against any negativity that might stop progress in life,” says Bobby.

Bobby has taken his campaign to several places including the US. He has completed over 220 campaigns in cities, villages in India and overseas, and received an overwhelming response. Bobby will be visiting USA again in April as he has to carry out four campaigns in Cheney Middle School, Minnesota State University Moorhead, Mayville State University, and to perform in a musical drama directed by him called ‘My Wonderful World’ in memory of a young boy named Sreejon Lala.

Bobby, however, is not alone in his mission as he is being backed by Dr Sanku Mallik and Mrs Ipsita Mallik, both scientists at North Dakota State University. The duo, have taken extreme pains in organizing campaigns in the USA schools and universities.

“A strange and strong bond develops with these kids, whom I call ‘soldiers’. I request them to call me ‘Bobby-dada’ and not ‘Sir’,” says Bobby. The kids think Bobby-dada is cool, chilled out, and fun to be with. He is strong, fashionable, and popular, but does not smoke and drink. This resonates with young minds. They realize that they also need to do constructive things in life, keeping HCF in mind. “Some of them become volunteers in this movement and travel with me to different schools and colleges, and stand beside me as my active soldiers, as an example to this generation,” says Bobby.

Bobby has changed many lives so far. “Once, in a top school in Kolkata, a sweet little boy of class 7 came up to me after my session ended and sought help as he was an alcoholic. I found out that this boy had been sneaking into his father’s well decorated bar and trying out small sips from different bottles, which later became a habit. Eventually, he had reached a point where he couldn’t sleep at night if he didn’t have alcohol. He was just in class 7 then,” recounts Bobby.

He contacted the boy’s parents and had a tough time initially making them understand the consequences. However, eventually they realized the severity of the problem; the bar was removed from the house and the child was medicated. The father quit drinking too. “They became my lifelong friends and well-wishers. The boy is in class 9 and doing well in his studies,” says Bobby.

Another instance is of Sourav Banerjee and Gargi Nayak, once addicts, they now volunteer with Bobby for this movement. “The proportion of people being addicted is alarming whether it is village or city. In the bid to become an adult, to look cool, to celebrate independence, to look fashionable, the youth gets lost. But I am looking at the positive side only. If I can save even one life, that will be my victory,” says Bobby.

Apart from schools and colleges, Bobby has also campaigned in red light areas of Kolkata. Sharing his experience the actor said, “I have taken this movement to the red light areas of Sonagachhi, Kalighat, Munshiganj and formed the same bond of love and trust among the children and dwellers there. Beyond demographics, class, profession, the value of life and to remain healthy is a priority. They are the regular audiences whenever my film releases. I do keep a special show for them for sure.”

Academically a marine engineer, Bobby was always creatively bent – something which he had inherited from his uncle who was good in studies, sports, elocution, debates, creative writing, acting and music. So sooner or later, the artist in him took the forefront.

“I got a job in one of the most premium shipping companies of the world, ‘Exxon Mobil’ and have been all around the world. But, realised that there is no point in earning money if you are not satisfied with the things you are doing. I left my job in February 2002 and here I am, doing what I aspire to do. Job satisfaction I guess, that was what I was searching,” says Bobby.

Nepotism is an accepted ugly truth of the entertainment industry that several people have faced and spoken about openly; Bobby is no exception. “Yes, I did. I still do. But I have come to terms with it. I know I am an outsider. I have no god mothers/fathers. I look average and am not the filmy hero type. I was 92kgs! But deep down I always knew I am a good artist and beyond that a hardworking, disciplined, honest. Nepotism can be countered if one is dedicated, strong and honest. The tagline of my campaign ‘I AM THE KING OF MY MIND’ keeps me going whenever I feel weak or defeated,” he says.

Since Bobby is very active in what he does and helped many lead a better life, he has won several prestigious awards for his work as well. The actor is also termed as a change maker. Awards and recognitions surely boost endeavours. Honestly, I don’t know how these awards came to me through the hands of great personalities like the Governor of West Bengal, Keshari Nath Tripathi and Rajendra Khandelwal. But I guess it encourages me to fight for a good cause,” says Bobby.

On the professional front, Bobby is solely concentrating on films and waiting for good offers to come up. His last release, ‘Banchha Elo Phirey’, ran 13 weeks even during the tough times of demonetisation. His next release, ‘Ek Je Achhe Shohor’, is ready and waiting for clearance from the Censor Board. Apart from this, he is busy teaching method acting in SMPAI (Samrat Mukherjee performing arts Institute), a leading acting and modeling institute in West Bengal. But no matter how busy he may be, his social campaign always occupies the centre stage in his life. May his tribe increase.