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On This Day (June 16) - Mithun Chakraborty's Birthday: The Remarkable Journey From Sleeping On Footpath To Receiving The Padma Bhushan

The veteran actor hailed as the 'Disco King' amongst the masses, was recently awarded the Padma Bhushan, the third-highest civilian honor, by the Government of India.

"Everyone struggles but my struggling has been so much that... I have come from the footpath, literally."

Mithun Chakraborty is one actor whom you can never confine to a particular category. He started his career with a Mrinal Sen film, 'Mrigayaa', which earned him a National Film Award for Best Actor. He went on to star in several parallel films along the way, receiving loads of acclaim from critics and cinephiles from across the world. And simultaneously, he also became a superstar of Hindi cinema, winning over the hearts of millions with his unmatched charm, brilliant acting chops, and stellar dance skills. Especially during the 80s, his popularity spread like wildfire, not just in India but also in the Soviet Union, the Middle East, and other parts of the world.

Shoma A. Chatterji, the award-winning author and film critic, wrote in one of her articles, "He (Mithun Chakraborty) had neither the looks of an Amir Khan nor the charisma of a Rajesh Khanna. He did not have the golden baritone of the Big Bachchan. Yet, within a short time, he ignored labels like ‘the poor man’s Amitabh Bachchan’ to become a star of some reckoning having mastered the skill of fighting onscreen and the art of dancing."

Well, Mithun Da’s journey through all these years is filled with ups and downs. Today, on his 74th birthday, let's trace his remarkable journey that may inspire every dreamer out there.

The Early Life

Mithun Chakraborty’s childhood was filled with poverty. But he still dared to dream big and went on to confront all his obstacles. After completing his graduation in chemistry from Scottish Church College, he enrolled at the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune, to study acting.

He graduated from the FTII (reportedly with a gold medal) in 1974.

Debut And Early Career

The actor made his film debut in 1976 with Mrinal Sen's 'Mrigayaa'. With his incredible performance as a native tribal, Chakraborty showcased his mettle and went on to win the National Film Award for Best Actor at the 24th National Film Awards. Soon after, he played a small role in Dulal Guha's 'Do Anjaane' which starred Amitabh Bachchan as the lead.

Struggle, Struggle, And Struggle

With his debut performance itself, it was apparent that Chakraborty is a gifted actor. But despite that, he had to deal with loads of struggle to carve out his place in the industry.

He didn't have a place to stay in Mumbai. For countless nights, he slept on the footpath on an empty stomach. And he faced rejection after rejection from almost all production houses.

He took on insignificant roles to make ends meet and was even forced to work in many B-grade films at one point in his career.

Rise To Stardom

In 1982, Chakraborty starred in B. Subhash's dance film 'Disco Dancer' which turned out to be the game-changer in his career. The film emerged as an All Time Blockbuster in overseas markets, establishing him as a superstar globally. The film's soundtrack, especially the number "I Am A Disco Dancer", became a chartbuster.

The superstar then went on to deliver a string of hits such as 'Jagir', 'Kasam Paida Karne Wale Ki', 'Ghar Ek Mandir', 'Boxer', 'Baazi', 'Pyar Jhukta Nahin', 'Ghulami', 'Aandhi-Toofan', 'Swarag Se Sunder', 'Jaal', 'Dilwaala', and 'Nasihat' among others.

The Struggle Returns. And Rise Again Like A Phoenix

Even after becoming a superstar, Mithun Da had to deal with another challenging phase during the mid-90s. He delivered a series of box office flops and was forced to work in low-budget films. In fact, there was a time when he gave 34 flops in a row.

However, he rose again during the late 90s with films like 'Shapath', 'Chandaal', and 'Swami Vivekananda'. During the early 2000s, he appeared in acclaimed films like 'Chaka', 'Titli', 'Ferari Fauj', and 'Santrash'.

In Bollywood, he made a great comeback in 2007 with Mani Ratnam's 'Guru'. And during the same time, he worked in several blockbuster Bengali films.

Awards And Accolades

Throughout his career, Mithun Da has won innumerable awards and accolades from across the world. The list includes 3 National Film Awards, 4 Filmfare Awards, 1 Screen Award, and others. In January 2024, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India.

Happy Birthday, Mithun Da. Thanks For Inspiring Us!