Debutant director Srijit Mukherji is ready with his film, Autograph, which releases on October 14


Sudipta Dey
Until a year ago, he didn’t know how to handle a film camera. Now he’s directed a film, Autograph, which features the biggest name of Tollywood Prosenjit Chatterjee. For a first-time director, Srijit Mukherji has already taken up more challenges than his peers in the industry. In Autograph, he pays tribute to one of the greatest films ever made by Tollywood, Sayajit Ray’s Nayak.
Srijit, left a cushioned job of an econometrician to pursue his passion in films. He was into English professional theatre at the same time. He wrote his first non-canonical reinterpretation of Satyajit Ray’s sleuth Feluda, a play called Feluda Ferot, that dealt with futuristic rendition of Feluda, when he would be 60 and Maganlal Meghraj challenges him one last time. Srijit himself played Maganlal Meghraj.
From a successful playwright, to an actor, lyricist and assistant director to Anjan Dutt (Madly Bangalee) and Aparna Sen (Iti Mrinalini), Srijit has taken a step at a time to finally turn to direction. With a “pride in the industry, and child like enthusiasm,” Srijit Mukherji set off to “create magic”, writing the story, script, screenplay and a couple of songs as well.
“Cinema is magic, I love the feeling of crafting that piece of magic,” says Srijit, who stills finds that magic in “the dingy alleys of the Tollywood studios, where great filmmakers like Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Ritwik Ghatak once walked… the makeup rooms, where actors like Uttam Kumar added the finals touches to his feudal moustache.”
On a regular evening in Bangalore, he was discussing a play with his long time friend Nandana Sen, when he came up with the concept of Autograph. “Nandana was excited and wanted me to go for it, in fact she pushed me into it,” says Srijit, who finally went on a producer hunt and got in touch with Sree Venkatesh. “I showed them the script, and they were ready to produce the film,” he recalls.
“The film has three layers and was conceived way before Inception.” One of the lead character is Subobrata Mitra, played by Indraneil Sengupta, and has a striking resemblance to Srijit’s real life character. “It is not entirely my story, but yes, it has a shadow of my own life.” The character, a first time director goes to the Tollywood superstar, Arun Chatterjee (Prosenjit) to ask him to consider his film, which is a remake of Nayak.
The second layer is the ‘reel-meets-real’ sequence. “There are references of Nayak, where the director is remaking Nayak in the film.” And the third layer is where there are real life characters that play real life character in the film, like Dilip Ray, Rudroprasad Sengupta and even Prosenjit Chatterjee where he plays a superstar.”
 The film-within-a-film format has always intrigued Srijit and he has been toying with the idea for long, before he scripted this film. And while doing so he realised his film would not have been possible without Prosenjit. “There is no one else who can fit the bill. I wanted someone who has been in the industry and has been popular. “It is a story of a reigning superstar, a journey of a filmmaker, a theatre actress who is the directors girlfriend, and the entire matrix of relationships between the three and how it changes their lives.”
Though the film has been ready since June, the film is scheduled to release on October 14, during the Pujas, along with another big budget film, Raj Chakraborty’s Dui Prithibi. But Srijit has faith in his producers Sree Venkatesh, who has also produced Dui Prithibi. “Dui Prithibi is a commercial film and would release in single theatres. But the kind of audience Autograph is targeting is urbane Bengali multiplex going crowd,” says Srijit, who has confidence in the producers’ decision.
Although Srijit is a bit impassive about the competition, he is tensed and excited. “Expectations are high and everybody in the film starting from Bumbada to the spot boys have given their 200 per cent. If not anything else, the honesty of the attempt would show in the film. The industry has helped me a lot in every step of the making.”