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Rediff.com  » Movies » 'Anjan Das taught me a lot of what I know today about filmmaking'

'Anjan Das taught me a lot of what I know today about filmmaking'

June 03, 2014 16:18 IST

Soha Ali Khan in Iti Srikanto'Anjanda was the perfect director for a newcomer, observant, patient, and calming. He had seen several ups and downs in life, and had even quit filmmaking for a while. I knew nothing about the camera, because my only experience had been a little bit of theatre acting. He taught me how to interact with it.'

Soha Ali Khan pays rich tribute to National Award-winning director Anjan Das, who succumbed to liver cancer on June 2.

Soha Ali Khan had made her big-screen debut in the late director Anjan Das’s acclaimed 2004 film Iti Srikanto.

She was shooting in Punjab when she heard of his passing.

Her first reaction was: "I hope he didn’t suffer.”

During a break from shooting, she spoke at length about her first director.

I was working for Citibank in Mumbai at the time, with absolutely no thought of joining the film industry.

We had been brought up in this slightly anglicized way, and Hindi cinema had never really featured prominently in our lives. But people kept asking me when I would do a film, probably because of my mother (Sharmila Tagore) and brother (Saif Ali Khan), and it was around this time that Amol Palekar approached me with a lovely script for a period film.

I was so keen on it that I quit my job and decided to give films a go.

Sadly, that particular film, which later became Paheli, did not work out for me.

So there I was in Mumbai, with no job and no income, and unhappy parents who weren’t sure where I was going.

It was under these circumstances that Iti Srikanto came to me.

I was unsure if I could manage the Bengali, given my shaky grip on the language, though it was reassuring that my character, Kamal Lata, was a silent sort of person!

She did, however, have to deliver a three-page monologue at one point, and thanks to Anjanda, I sailed through it.

He was the perfect director for a newcomer, observant, patient, and calming. He had seen several ups and downs in life, and had even quit filmmaking for a while. I knew nothing about the camera, because my only experience had been a little bit of theatre acting. He taught me how to interact with it.

He pointed out several mannerisms that I didn’t even I know I had, such as raising one eyebrow or one shoulder when I was nervous during a shot, or literally holding my breath all through between ‘action’ and ‘cut’, exhaling with a whoosh once ‘cut’ was called.

Anjanda quietly guided me through all of that, and he was always ready to explain the subtleties of facing the camera, and to share his many life experiences.

When I signed Rituparno Ghosh’s Antarmahal, Anjanda was very happy for me, and he will always hold a very special place in my heart as my first director, and the man who taught me, a nervous newcomer, a lot of what I know today about filmmaking.

Yajnaseni Chakraborty/ Rediff.com in Kolkata