It’s a pat for Bengali film industry


Last year, your ‘Jaatishwar’ won four National Awards. Did you regret missing out the Best Direction award?

I genuinely feel it’s a team effort. Like last year, this time too I feel all the awards belong as much to me as my team. After a very long time, a director has got two awards — Best Direction and Best Screenplay (Original) — at the same time. In fact, I don’t remember when such a thing happened last. It’s a top-of-the-world feeling and a validation of all the hard work that has gone into making this film, especially in this part of the world where budgets and logistics are a fraction of what the biggies enjoy. I think it’s a huge pat on the back for the Bengali film industry. That Bengali cinema can hold its own on a national stage is a huge feat for us. Bengali directors are on a roll.

It’s not been many years since you started out. This is indeed a big win…

There is something which Rituda (Rituparno Ghosh) used to tell me — don’t think about awards, just keep doing your stuff the way you want to. If the content is good, you will get noticed, he said…

In 2009, Rituparno Ghosh got the Best Direction award for ‘Abohoman’. ‘Chotushkone’ too was supposed to feature him.

Life seems to have come full circle. Rituda was an integral part of ‘Chotushkone’. I started writing the script right after ‘Autograph’. Rituda loved this concept and was keen to act in it. My intimacy with him started because of ‘Chotushkone’. When I was writing the script, he would call me very early in morning when I was about to crash. ‘Chotushkone’ brought us together. Rituda was supposed to play the role, which was ultimately essayed by Parambrata Chatterjee. The last conversation I had with Rituda was about the wig, which I was trying to get from Mumbai. I wanted him to sport curly hair and round glasses. He said, ‘Then I’ll have to put on weight.’ I miss him today. I dedicate this award to him, along with all the members of ‘Chotushkone’.

You crossed many hurdles to make this film…

Yes, I’ve gone through troubled times. After ‘Jaatishwar’, I wasn’t keeping well and ‘Chotushkone’ got pushed back. Because of this, Soumik Halder (DoP) pulled out. Ironically, Sudip Chatterjee has now got the award for Best Cinematography. I would call it a twist of fate. Anjan Dutt was supposed to be a part of the cast; he too pulled out because of differences with the producer. But two people stood by me — Aparna Sen and Goutam Ghose. I’ll be eternally indebted to both of them. Of course, I have to give it to the producers — Reliance and Rana Sarkar.

Weren’t you expecting the award this year?

‘Autograph’ onwards, all my films have been sent for the National Awards. Since ‘Jaatishwar’ was the toast of the 61st National Film Awards, I knew ‘Chotushkone’ will be in the reckoning too. But I didn’t know I would win the Swarna Kamal.

Detractors said ‘Chotushkone’ wasn’t even a hit…

Green-eyed monsters will always be there. People had doubted ‘Chotushkone’s run. The film completed 100 days and it shut them up. It was certified as the first hit of 2014 and it was a milestone as it brought back Bengali audience to the theatre after the post-‘Chander Pahar’ drought.

There are also allegations of lobbying at the Awards…

There’s lobbying in Oscars too, isn’t it? Where’s the harm in that? The biggest lobby is a good film. First, you need to make one. My detractors have nothing to show for their efforts. I have nothing for them but pity.

Do awards make a difference to your life?

Yes, of course. I’m now in the august company of huge names. That’s intimidating as well. The burden of expectation will be huge. Once you touch a pinnacle, you have to sustain being there. That’s a huge responsibility. But awards do make you feel good.

So today, there’s something called Brand Srijit…

Talk of brands and I feel like a toothpaste or a soap. I make films, I tell my stories the way I want to, that’s it. Consumer behaviour is not for me.

Comments are closed.