Interview: Suman Mukhopadhyay talks about his second Hindi feature, Nazarband
His directorial debut, Herbert, won National Award for best Bengali feature film in 2005. Since then the maverick filmmaker and thespian Suman Mukhopadhyay has made seven films, and all of them will make you ponder long after you have watched them.
After a striking debut in Hindi films with ZEE5 web original Posham Pa, Suman is back with his second Hindi feature, Nazarband that premiered at Busan International Film Festival. We had a chat with the filmmaker on the same. Excerpts:
Tell us how you came up with Nazarband?
I have always loved reading author Ashapurna Devi’s stories and was planning an anthology of her work for Doordarshan which didn’t happen. I had read this beautiful short Chuti Nakoch by her which had struck deep roots in my heart and I bought the rights in case I wanted to make a film on the same. I fell in love with the characters and could see the visual architecture of the story.
So, I started developing the screenplay and introduced certain changes, keeping the main grain of the characters intact. The two protagonists are non-Bengali migrant workers from the fringes of the society, who have just come out of jail on the same day and their journey henceforth.
What are the changes you have introduced in the script?
I literally had to turn a few pages of the short story into a 90-minute feature but it had the potential and scope to extend the characters and take them through an uncharted course. The differences of characters are the major dynamics of the film which is essentially a romantic movie on roads.
Besides the two protagonists, the city of Kolkata is the third protagonist which I have explored thoroughly through my lenses including Rajarhat the new addition to the city’s landscape. The film then moves to Jharkhand and Bihar.
It’s a psychological take on how these two people navigate the small problems they face in the urban situation and the way they tackle trouble and go through a plethora of emotions ranging from dependency to selfishness.
Tell us about your female lead, Indira Tiwari?
Oh, she is a brilliant find. It was supposed to be her debut film, but Serious Men released before that. I spotted her when I went to direct a play at NSD with final-year students. Later when I finalised Nazarband I called her for a proper workshop taking her through the script and testing her chemistry with Tanmay because the story completely depended on these characters. Her commitment was amazing. She did not even shampoo her hair for four-five months to get that dry, rural frizzy texture.
Your future projects?
There is this script that I wrote and got an award for in Australia in 2017, which I plan to turn into a Hindi film. It’s about a Kashmiri footballer and his sister. Also for the past 10-12 years, I have been planning to do a Bengali film on Manik Bandyopadhyay’s Putul Nacher Iti Kotha.