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Big B to join hands with Prosenjit?

Diganta Guha
If everything falls into place, Amitabh Bachchan is likely to act in a Bengali film yet again. Talks of casting Bachchan in the role of a fakir, who revolted against the British during the Warren Hastings regime, are on, confirms the film’s director Ujjal Chakraborty. The film is an adaptation of Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay’s Anandamath.
“We have already had a talk with him, but things will be finalised once Bachchan is back from abroad,” informs Chakraborty who is somewhat reticent right now. Shooting for the film also starring Prosenjit and Arpita Chatterjee, begins on October 15. “We are working out the rest of the cast right now,” says Chakraborty.
Bachchan has shot a number of times in Bengal for films like Anushondhan, Do Anjane, Yaarana and The Last Lear. We tried to reach Bachchan on phone but to no avail.

Riingo’s saga continues…

The filmmaker talks about his upcoming film, System, and more

 

Diganta Guha

He is known for delivering hard-hitting films like Kranti and Risk and he has done it yet again. Filmmaker Riingo carries on his tradition of making hard-line cinema with his upcoming venture System. The film, starring Indraneil Sengupta, Indrajit, Subhra Kundu, Barun Chanda and others, is based on the underworld system in Kolkata. “In Tollywood nothing much has been done on the underworld. The producers seem to shy away from the subject, although it’s very popular with Bollywood filmmakers,” says Riingo. “But thanks to the media and its explicit coverage of the underworld, Kolkata is ready to handle such a subject,” he adds. Tollywood’s last take on the underworld was Bratya Basu’s Raasta starring Mithun Chakraborty, Amitabha Bhattacharya and others.
System is actually a trilogy. As many as three stories unfold in the course of the film, each exploring different aspects of the underworld. “It is a full-fledged action film and also Indraneil’s first action drama. He has worked really hard, both physically and mentally, in preparing for the role,” says the director. According to Riingo the pivotal concept of the film is different. He is of the view that for gangsters, killing people is merely their profession, “You report and write, I make films, they kill people. The underworld doesn’t necessarily mean goondas. They are people like you and me, they dress up like us and some of them are quite educated as well,” says the filmmaker commending the underworld’s organization skills too. Riingo has also tried to explore the parallel power system.
As for action, Riingo informs that the film has loads of it, including a road fight in Kolkata. “We will shoot a car chase sequence in Mandarmani,” says Riingo whose shooting locations also include Himachal Pradesh and the Thar desert. “I have never worked in Himachal, I plan to shoot a song sequence there,” adds the filmmaker.
Every filmmaker has an inspiration. So what inspired Riingo to make such a film? “It’s the flamboyance of the characters in underworld sagas that has inspired me. Every individual is a rebel in some sense. Again the parallel system needs to be explored,” says Riingo. However, the filmmaker informs no particular film or book has influenced him to make System.
“Technologically we have advanced quite a lot. People are coming to the theatres to watch good films like Moner Manush, which has been liked by people of all classes. That’s a very positive sign,” says Riingo. He feels that his film System has happened at the right time. “I have no target audience in my mind. My aim is to make a good film so that people come to watch it,” he says. We hope it works.

 

 

PostScript caught up with the model-turned-actor, Indraneil Sengupta, on the sets of Riingo’s System, an underworld saga…

 

Diganta Guha

He has made a mark as an actor in Bengali films working with directors like  Buddhdev Dasgupta, Kaushik Ganguly and Anjan Das. Excerpts:

Have you managed to settle down in Tollywood?
I don’t know whether I have or not but yes, I am working here.

Aarekti Premer Golpo is going places…
I am elated with the response. When we were making the film, I was under the impression that the film would go to various festivals, win awards, receive critical acclaim, both nationally and internationally. But I am amazed that it has also got such a good response from audiences. People are buying tickets in black, and those who are unable to see it are going back home disappointed. It was a bold subject, alternative sexuality, and we never thought the public would accept it so freely. The movie is being watched by one and all. This isn’t exactly the commercial everyday love story that you see on-screen and people appreciate the difference.

How was Rituparno Ghosh as an actor?
Rituda is brilliant. As an actor he is absolutely amazing. Working with him gave me the impression that he must be a great actor-director. He is very patient and his acting style is completely different. I learnt a lot from him…..
 
Did he guide you on the sets?
To a certain extent he did, but when you are acting yourself, it is not possible to guide your co-actor constantly, because you are busy with your own lines and parts. But yes he did help me with a few things. The character that I played was very complex. I am looking forward to working with Rituda, the director because then he would have the luxury to guide his actors.

You have done very meaningful films in Tollywood and not just run-of-the-mill stuff. Was it a conscious decision?
It’s a two way process. I have been choosey with my films, and I have got offers for certain kind of films only. I am really lucky that such scripts have come my way. Tollywood had a good run in 2010. Many small and medium budget films did very well. There are many talented, creative people in the industry. We have brilliant actors and directors. For me as an actor, Tollywood is important because of the kind of characters and scripts that I get. Hopefully, 2011 will see Tollywood doing even better.
 
Your wife Barkha is also working in Tollywood…
Barkha is hosting a show on Zing and doing a lot of live shows in Mumbai and Kolkata. She is consciously avoiding daily soaps because it takes up a lot of time. Even I suggested that she should skip daily soaps at the moment. In Tollywood she has done a cameo in Dui Prithibi which won her a best debutante award. She is also doing a full-fledged role in Mahesh Manjrekar’s Aami Subhash Chandra Bolchi with Mithun Chakraborty. She is very excited about it. Language is not a barrier for Barkha. She loves acting. If she gets more opportunities in Tollywood she would definitely work here more frequently.

Do you get time to meet each other?
When I am not working here, I am in Mumbai. When I am shooting in Kolkata, she makes it a point to take some time off to be with me. So, in a month we are together for about 15-18 days. 
 
What are your current projects?
I have just finished a film called Uro Chithi. Only the dubbing is left. I have System which is an action film, so if you think I haven’t done any mainstream film, here it is. I have also signed a comedy called Le Halwa. Bedeni is going to release soon. In System I play an underworld guy.
 
Do you have any projects in Mumbai?
No. I think I am too occupied in Kolkata to market myself in Mumbai.

Prosenjit shines in Autograph

 

 

Film: Autograph

Cast: Prosenjit Chatterjee, Indraneil Sengupta, Nandana Sen Direction: Srijit Mukherji

Rate: Good

 

 

Sudipta Dey

As the saying goes… it is difficult to be a hero in an empty room. For small time theatre actor Arun, it was difficult to get fame and popularity from an audience of six. He moved on, sold himself, and became ‘the untouchable’ Arun Chatterjee, the superstar. The story revolves around Arun Chatterjee (Prosenjit), the biggest star of Tollywood who sets out to take up a challenge at a time when luck has not been on his side. In the process, he meets debutant actress Srinandita (Nandana Sen) and a promising director, Subabrato (Indraneil). After a short period of dark and gloomy composition in the second half, Srijit Mukherji’s Autograph ends with a confident song, Beche thakar gaan, which conveys the character’s devastation in a mixed note. Director Srijit has not only used ‘film within a film’ format successfully, but the subtexts that he has used to depict the conflict in an actor’s life, shows the director’s command over the subject. The plot is not as simple as it is believed to be, but then life is not simple either. The ups and downs of an actor, a superstar, weaknesses and strengths of a man who has gone all out to win the battle are portrayed beautifully by Prosenjit. Only Prosenjit could have portrayed a character like Arun Chatterjee. Interestingly, Arun’s character has a striking resemblance to Prosenjit in real life. The filmmaker essayed by Indraneil too bears a semblance to Srijit himself. Considering the fact that Indraneil is just two films old in the industry (release wise), he has matched up to Prosenjit’s skills, and delivers better than expected from a newcomer. Nandana Sen on the other hand, spoils the best of dialogues with her bad delivery, when she could have added a lot to the script had she brushed up on her Bengali accent. Srijit has done a brilliant job with the script. Crisp and witty, the dialogues made the film an interesting watch. The songs though underplayed, adds to the film’s mood. Though in a small cameo, Dhruv Mukherji was a delightful addition to the story. Overall, it’s neither a commercial nor an arthouse film with convoluted storyline and endless metaphors. It is an honest film which shows the other sides of different lives with reference to the Bengali film industry. A must watch for the Pujas.

Celluloid signature

 

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.”

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