Bhattacharjee in Casino Royale
Gautam Paul Bhattacharjee|
4 May 1960
Harrow, Middlesex, England
10 July 2013|
c.12 July 2013 (age 53)|
Seaford, East Sussex, England
|Body discovered||12 July 2013|
|Height||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
Early life and career
The only son of Gautam Bhattacharjee, a member of the Indian Communist Party who had to flee from the country in 1942, and Anne, a woman from a family of Russian Jewish descent, he was educated at state schools in Harrow. In the 1970s, Paul was a member of "The Young Theatre" at North Harrow where he was very involved in their productions (including an early role in The Thwarting of Baron Bolligrew in 1974) and began to learn his trade as an actor. An association with Jatinder Verma and his theatre company Tara Arts began in 1979, when he was, according to Verma "passionately idealistic, both artistically and politically" and had the desire "to use theatre to change the world". Bhattacharjee appeared in Yes Memsahib (1979), "the story of the formation of modern East Africa by colonial Indian 'coolie' labour", and Diwali (1980), which he also directed, "the story behind the annual Festival of Lights", among other productions.
Bhattacharjee's first regular television role was in the short-lived soap Albion Market (1985) in which his character was charged by the police for the murder of a racist; it was the actor's work as a teenage anti-racism activist which had led to his first meeting with Jatinder Verma in 1977. He played Omar Khayyam, a narrator named after the poet, in Iranian Nights (1989) by Howard Brenton and Tariq Ali, at the Royal Court, a satirical response to the controversy over Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses, which was later shown in a television version on Channel 4.
He had successfully taken over Art Malik's role in the West End run (at the Aldwych Theatre) of Indian Ink by Tom Stoppard in 1995 after originally playing the character's son, and had appeared in Murmuring Judges (Royal National Theatre, 1991), one of the plays in David Hare's trilogy examining British institutions.
At the time of the actor's early death, Michael Billington admitted to most "treasuring" Bhattacharjee's performance as Hari Hobson in a version of Hobson's Choice. The adaptation of the original Harold Brighouse play by Tanika Gupta, produced at the Young Vic theatre in 2003, transposed the characters to contemporary Salford's Asian business community. In his contemporary review, Billington observed that in the role he "captures both the blazered posturing and alcoholic pathos of the defeated Hobson".
He was cast as Inzamam Ahmed in EastEnders, recurring in the soap opera for two years from 2008, and appeared in the films Dirty Pretty Things (2002), Casino Royale (2006), and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012).
Bhattacharjee appeared during 2012 as Benedick in a Royal Shakespeare Company production of Much Ado About Nothing at the RSC's Courtyard Theatre in Stratford, with Meera Syal as Beatrice. Paul Cavendish, reviewing the production for The Daily Telegraph, thought Bhattacharjee delivered the best performance of the ensemble.
Bankruptcy and death
HM Revenue and Customs had successfully petitioned for the actor to be declared insolvent; no other creditors are known. On 10 July 2013, a day after he had been declared bankrupt in the High Court of Justice, Bhattacharjee, aged 53, went missing, when the cast were towards the end of the rehearsal period for Talk Show, a black comedy by Alistair McDowall for the Royal Court. On 12 July, his body was found at the foot of Splash Point cliffs in Seaford, East Sussex, but was not conclusively identified until five days later. A post-mortem examination found that he died from multiple injuries. Police were not treating Bhattacharjee's death as suspicious. According to Michael Billington in July 2013, he "was one of those actors whose" credit in a theatre "programme gave you the reassuring sense that you were in safe hands" and "just one of those actors whom it was always a delight to see". In November 2013 Bhattacharjee's death was declared to be a suicide while he was severely depressed, by the coroner of East Sussex.
|2005||The Mistress of Spices||Mohammed|
|2006||Casino Royale||Hot Room Doctor #1|
|2010||National Theatre Live: A Disappearing Number||Aninda Rao|
|2011||The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel||Dr. Ghujarapartidar|
|2014||Honeycomb Lodge||Mini's Father||(final film role)|
- Michael Coveney, "Paul Bhattacharjee obituary", The Guardian, 18 July 2013.
- "British Indian actor Paul Bhattacharjee who starred in James Bond films goes missing in UK". The Indian Express. Indian Express Group. 17 July 2013. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
- "Membership List", The Young Theatre at North Harrow.
- "The Thwarting of Baron Bolligrew", The Young Theatre at North Harrow.
- Suman Bhuchar, "Bhattacharjee, Paul" in Alison Donnell (ed.), Companion to Contemporary Black British Culture, Abingdon & New York: Routledge, 2002, p. 32.
- "Jatinder Verma on Paul Bhattacharjee: 'He was passionately idealistic, both artistically and politically'", guardian.co.uk, 18 July 2013
- "Yes Memsahib 1979", Tara Arts.
- "Diwali 1980", Tara Arts.
- Marcus Williamson, "Paul Bhattacharjee: Actor whose work took in the RSC, the Royal Court and 'EastEnders'", The Independent, 23 July 2013.
- Paul Taylor, "The sun never sets on Stoppard's empire", The Independent, 1 March 1995.
- "Resurrecting the Raj", India Today, 30 April 1995.
- Michael Billington, "Paul Bhattacharjee: 'He could play just about anything'", guardian.co.uk, 18 July 2013.
- Billington's review in 2003 erroneously gives the dramatist's first name as "Tankika".
- Michael Billington, "Hobson's Choice (Young Vic, London)", guardian.co.uk, 3 July 2003.
- "Actor Paul Bhattacharjee disappears before Royal Court run". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. 16 July 2013. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
- Clark, Nick; Peachey, Paul (16 July 2013). "Stage and screen actor Paul Bhattacharjee missing". The Independent. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
- "Bond Actor Paul Bhattacharjee Goes Missing". Sky News. BSkyB. 17 July 2013. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
- Paul Cavendish, "Much Ado About Nothing, RSC Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, review", telegraph.co.uk, 2 August 2013.
- "Paul Bhattacharjee declared bankrupt week before 'suicide'", The Independent, 19 July 2013.
- "Paul Bhattacharjee's body found in East Sussex", BBC News, 17 July 2013
- Hayley Dixon, "James Bond actor Paul Bhattacharjee declared bankrupt before suicide", telegraph.co.uk, 14 November 2013.
- "Paul Bhattacharjee killed himself after being declared bankrupt". BBC News. Retrieved 15 November 2013.