Veteran filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta tells us why he made Anwar Ka Ajab Kissa
One of the finest directors that India has ever produced, poet filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta never tires of telling lyrical stories of underdogs on screen. The 13-time National Award recipient’s third Hindi feature film, Anwar Ka Ajab Kissa, too, touches all the right chords with an impeccable narration and heart-rending performances by stalwarts including Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Ananya Chatterjee and Pankaj Tripathi among others. We had a chat with the 76-year-old young Dasgupta about the film that released on Eros Now recently. Excerpts:
After Andhi Gali in 1984 and Bagh Bahadur in 1989, this will be your third Hindi feature. Tell us a little about Anwar Ka Ajab Kissa.
When I was a child, I used to be a voracious reader of the then-popular detective series Swapan Kumar. And since then, I had the ambition to be a detective. With time, though Swapan Kumar receded in the background of my memories, the unfulfilled dream to be a detective remained somewhere in the depths of the mind. Anwar Ka Ajab Kissa is a kind of fulfilment of that dream.
Tell us how you conceived the story?
My films are always about the underdogs of the society who never give up despite tribulations. Anwar is also one such average, a not-so-successful detective who loves sleuthing and it’s while investigating one such case, that his personal life and backstory comes into play setting him on a path to self-discovery.
I thought of making this film in Hindi because I love working in Hindi medium. I write the script and screenplay myself and though I get the dialogues translated by an expert, I sit through the entire translation to ensure my thoughts are getting conveyed.
Tell us why did you think of Nawaz as Anwar?
I was scouting for a very ordinary-looking man to play Anwar and Nawazuddin fitted the bill completely. He is very plain-looking, there's nothing heroic about his looks but he has a set of very expressive and emotive eyes.
When he heard about the film from me, he came down to Kolkata for a week and was keen on doing a workshop with me. But I only conversed with him which helped him understand Anwar and when he returned for the shoot, he brought along Anwar with him. He is a natural actor and a director's delight.
What about Pankaj Tripathi?
Well, Nawazuddin referred Pankaj for Amol. This is a very intriguing character who goes away from home for long spells and it’s his wife (played by Ananya Chatterjee) only who gets in touch with Anwar to know about his mysterious disappearances.
You have always made films for the big screen. Are you happy with an OTT release of your film?
Right now, the situation is so bad that there is no other option left. The pandemic has forced all the standalone theatres to close for an indefinite time. And with even fewer footfalls, big-screen releases are making no sense commercially. Though I always make movies for the big screen, for the time being, this is the only solution, I feel.
Your friend, actor Soumitra Chatterjee passed away recently. Did you ever think of casting him in any one of your films?
Soumitra was one of the best actors in the world and a personal friend. We used to share many things in common including poetry and literature. In fact, I thought of him as Shibnath in my film, Tahader Kotha, but he couldn’t give dates at a stretch then. And after that, I couldn't visualise him in any of the characters in my films. Nonetheless, he lent his voice for one of the documentaries I made on Jorasanko Thakurbari.
How do you keep fit?
I do yoga, pranayam and light exercise every day. Ailments will be there in old age but my heart is still as young as that of a 16-year-old.