Filmmaker Arindam Sil is charting a new course with his next film, Mahananda
Whether it's a noir or relationship tale, the thriller element is unmistakable in all of filmmaker Arindam Sil’s movies. Be it his debut film Aborto, the superhit Byomkesh movies, the gripping saga of Dhananjoy based on a real-life rape convict who was hanged, or his 2019 Puja release, Mitin Mashi, his films make you sit on the edge of your chair till the very end.
The director is back with his next film, Mahananda, based on the life and work of the revered author and activist Mahashweta Devi. For the uninitiated, Mahashweta Devi is a Bengali literateur and an activist, who had devoted decades of her life to uplift tribals, especially the Lodha and the Shabar communities of the state. She was the niece of the stalwart filmmaker Ritwik Ghatak and wife of thespian Bijon Bhattacharya. Her son, Nabarun Bhattacharya, was also renowned for his distinctive Bengali prose and poetry, depicting the subaltern Bengali life. We chatted with Sil about the movie and more. Excerpts from the interview:
Which portions of Mahasweta Devi’s life will be portrayed in Mahananda?
It is not on Mahasweta Devi’s life alone. It’s more on her work and literature. She is a cult figure in her own right, and we will just try to capture that on screen. As Bengalis, we should be immensely proud of her work, but hardly anyone discusses or talks about that. There are a few papers on Mahasweta Devi’s contribution to Bengali literature and society in American universities. But I have my doubts about whether her work is taught here.
All her life she fought for the rights of the tribals, and most of her literature also reflects their struggles. We have never really been able to give her work the rightful place it deserves. Her movement is a continuous process in society that the younger generation should be aware of that. Also, in more ways than, she one is the true icons of women’s lib and gender equality. In Mahananda, we will show her work from the IPTA (Indian People’s Theatre Association) movement till the time she grew old. But we will not show her death, to depict the continuity of her work.
Was Gargee Roychowdhury always your first choice as Mahasweta Devi?
Absolutely, since she can fluidly reprise difficult and challenging roles on screen.
What’s the status of your film, Khela Jokhon?
We will commence shooting Khela Jokhon from mid-April with Mimi Chakraborty, Parambarta Chatterjee and others. Though the central plot remains the same, I have changed the treatment to a great extent. We will be shooting in two phases in Kurseong, Bolpur and Kolkata.
What about the second instalment of Mitin Mashi?
Plans are on for Keralai Kistimat. But as of now, because of corona, it won’t be possible to shoot in Kerala. Also, Koel is in the family way. If not during the Pujas, Mitin Mashi will definitely be in cinemas this winter.