Interview: National award-winning debutant filmmaker Indraadip Dasgupta on Kedara and his other upcoming films
A keen observer and sensitive to the core, it was natural for celebrated musician-turned-debutant director Indraadip Dasgupta to choose a subject like loneliness for his first movie, Kedara. The film, which has won several laurels at national and international film festivals, has also bagged this year’s jury awards at the 66th National Film Awards.
Dasgupta delved deep into his own life, and that of others, to come up with the heartwrenching theme of Kedara — a lone existence of an out-of-job, middle-aged man. “Society at large is very cruel to anyone or anything that’s apparently redundant or useless in their eyes. Just like we discard junk, the average man, who is not accomplished enough, is on most occasions considered an utter failure,” states Indraadip.
Kedara too is the story a middle-aged lonely Narasingha (played by filmmaker-actor Kaushik Ganguly), a one-time popular ventriloquist, who lives all by himself, abandoned by friends and family. On a sunny October afternoon, we sat with the down-to-earth Dasgupta for a chat on Kedara, his future projects, and how he balances out both composing and directing. Excerpts:
What inspired you to make Kedara?
The basic idea came a few years after I started living alone. There are always both positive and negative attributes to living away from one’s family and being unmarried — you learn to live in a new way, adjusting with the lone world. I go back to a vacant house, but I am not lonely. The ‘me time’ I got, let me be more in the realms of imagination and come up with many human story ideas, with Kedara being foremost among them. Loneliness might be the central theme of the movie, but I have tried to weave in other pertinent issues like the slow death of certain art forms such as ventriloquism. We no longer see ventriloquists creating a whole new world by simply imitating different voices of humans, animals and things alike. At the same time, I have also tried to show a person who is no longer very professionally happening and thus a social misfit, where success is measured in monetary terms. Everything is not performance or target-oriented, it’s not an excel sheet and who decides what is success?
According to those who have been lucky to catch the film at the festivals, Kaushik Ganguly has put forward his best performance, so far.
Kedara wouldn’t have been made if Kaushik didn’t agree to play the role of Narasingha. It’s not only his best performance, but he has also, in fact, outdone himself in this grey character of a simple man, who is always in a state of flux.
Did he interfere in your direction?
No, but he used to improvise and give useful suggestions. He is not at all imposing, and we share a very intimate rapport with each other.
Also, Rudranil Ghosh looks so convincing as the scrap dealer…
Yes, there’s such synergy between his character and that of Kaushik’s. Narasingha is like a discarded object, and his only friend in this world Keshto (played by Rudranil), deals with scraps.
Though Kedara releases today, you have already finished shooting your second film, Agantuk, with Sohini Sarkar and Abir Chatterjee…
I finished shooting Kedara in January 2018, but I waited for the National Award, hence the release got delayed by 20 months. But now I feel it was worth the wait. I already, by then, had a couple of ideas in my head and thought of going ahead with the shoot for one. Agantuk is again a human story about the loneliness of the alienated senior citizens of society, whom we have rejected.
There’s also Bismillah in the making…
Yes, I announced the film, but shooting will not begin until early next year. It’s again a human story of a Muslim musician from a shehnai-playing community, who loves to play the flute, but eventually takes up the shehnai and becomes very popular as a sacred musician, who plays at weddings and funerals. The saddest part is he can’t find a bride for himself. The cast includes Kaushik Sen, Bidipta Chakraborty, Surangana Bandyopadhyay, Daminee Benny Basu, besides Riddhi Sen in the lead.
Will we see more of you as a musician or a filmmaker?
I think I will have to balance the two. You can say that I will now compose more for my films because here, I will get more freedom to experiment. I have a plan to make a grand musical in the near future too.
Behind the scenes
Biggest wish in life: ‘To lose more weight.’
When not working: ‘I sleep or spend time with my two Labradors, Phirni and Ganesh.’
Comfort food: Eggs.
Favourite films: Anand and Bicycle Thieves.