National Award-winning filmmaker Atanu Ghosh on his upcoming Bengali movie, Binisutoy
Though his connect with the film industry dates back to 1997, he completed a decade of feature filmmaking this year. We are talking about National Award-winning filmmaker Atanu Ghosh, whose movies delve deep into the human mind, its nature, variety and complexity in a modern contemporary setting, using a minimalist narrative form. The director, who is currently busy with the post-production work of his upcoming film, Binisutoy, talks about his journey so far. Excerpts:
You’ve completed a decade as a filmmaker. Please take us through your career?
I believe a filmmaker’s vision and mastery over the medium and craft matures with each work. In 2009, when I debuted with Angshumaner Chhobi, the creative and aesthetic quality of the film was deemed important. Thereafter, the emphases shifted to box office results. If a good film did not do well commercially, it was quickly thrown into the bin. In the past couple of years, however, content is back in vogue. The trend keeps changing, and the last ten years were quite eventful with major shifts. But, I believe a filmmaker should stick to his conviction and experiment and make mistakes rather than compromise. If he succeeds, it’s fantastic. If he fails, he has to try again.
You have been extremely selective when it comes to making films, only six projects in ten years. Any particular reason?
I took up every opportunity that I got and made films whenever a producer was interested in my concept. So, literally, I got six chances in ten years! That’s it. I think, the reason for this, if any, lies in the type of concepts I work with. They are neither conventional nor populist. Now, with every film, I am trying to go further away from conventional elements of mass entertainment. So, the ratio often by six may fall further down in the future. All your movies have brilliant narratives, but you bagged the National Award for Mayurakshi, which also worked well at the box office.
Do you think a star cast still matters for a movie’s commercial success?
In Mayurakshi, so many factors worked favourably. Apart from great expectations on the Soumitra Chatterjee-Prosenjit Chatterjee combo, the father-son equation clicked well and the emotional quotient of old-age issues clicked with the audience. Besides, the film got adequate publicity before release— furthermore, awards and recognition also drew the crowd. I don’t think a star cast is the only factor that determines the fate of a film at the box office. I only cast a star if the role suits the actor.
Tell us about Binisutoy a little?
You have successfully completed yet another day of your life but something is missing. Why on Earth do we feel that something is missing in our life? Is it because our life is just like everyone else’s? Perhaps such feelings drive us to try out something different and make something exceptional out of our unexceptional life. In Binisutoy, Kajal Sarkar (Ritwik Chakraborty ) and Sraboni Barua (Jaya Ahsan) are two strangers who meet at the audition of a reality game show, and thereafter through some strange turns of events, the journey of these two people grow into an engaging drama of intrigue, surprise and enlightenment.
For the first time ever, we will be seeing Jaya Ahsan and Ritwik together on the big screen. They did a short, Bhalobashar Sahar, though. How was it working with them?
I was always eager to put Ritwik and Jaya together — undoubtedly two of the most sensitive performers of present times. It was quite interesting to watch out how their chemistry works. The script provided them with ample opportunity to display their acting prowess at different levels and needless to say, they utilised it to the brim. Jaya has also sung a Tagore number in the film. Also, National Award-winning cinematographer Appu Prabhakar is wielding the camera, for the first time in a Bengali film.
Why did you choose Jaya over other actors for this one?
An actor should effortlessly dwell into his or her own private moments and spaces and bring out unpredictable nuances that enrich the character. Jaya does that commendably. Besides, she can deliver a wide range of expressions — from typical simplicity and vulnerability to strong will, determination and strength of character. All these are principal constituents of Sraboni’s character in Binisutoy. Besides, her facial features and vocal intonation tally perfectly with the Assamese lineage of the character.
Apart from telling human stories, do you feel like experimenting with other genres of filmmaking?
Most of my films are multi-genre. Angshumaner Chhobi and Rupkatha Noy had a strong crime sub-plot, replete with tension and suspense, Abby Sen had quite a bit of wit and tongue-in-cheek humour, while Ek Phaali Rodh had a defined musical angle. Takhan Teish and Mayurakshi grew within a deep psychological introspection. I would love to do full-fledged mystery, crime or comedy, or maybe in combination. Also, I am very keen on making a mature love story. I do have a concept. Let’s hope it matures.
Do you plan to try out web platforms as media?
The web has come up with a huge arena of scope and promise. My favourite area of interest for web series would be dark, realistic crime stories or maybe, science fiction. Hopefully, next year, I would be doing so. Who among the current crop of filmmakers have impressed you? Among the new breed, Indrashis Acharya and Soukarya Ghosal have shown great promise. I look forward to their next ventures.