'Only Aamir Khan can do justice to Feluda'
For avid Satyajit Ray fans, it is impossible to get over the trance created by his unforgettable Sonar Kella, a film that tells the tale of brilliant sleuth Feluda aka Prodosh Chandra Mitter solving a case in Rajasthan.
Therefore, any news of the film’s remake is sure to create a flutter among Ray admirers.
As it surely did when filmmaker Shoojit Sircar announced that he is going to present his version of Sonar Kella with Aamir Khan playing the lead.
Soon after, social networking sites started working overtime and suggestions for Sircar poured in.
We caught up with Sircar, the director of acclaimed films like Vicky Donor and Madras Cafe, during his stay in Kolkata.
In a free-wheeling conversation with Indrani Roy, Sircar spoke about remaking Sonar Kella, life after Vicky Donor and Madras Café and his plans to make a film starring Amitabh Bachchan among other things.
What motivated you to think of remaking Ray’s Sonar Kella.
First, let me clarify that remaking Sonar Kella just tops my wishlist. Nothing is final yet.
I only spoke my mind that I would love to work on this. But the word spread like wild fire and my phone never stopped ringing ever since.
Image: Writer Juhi Chaturvedi and Shoojit Sircar
Photographs: Pradeep Bandekar
'I would not do anything that would spoil the flavour of Ray's masterpiece'
Do you think Aamir Khan will fit into the shoes of the legendary Soumitra Chatterjee who played Feluda in Ray’s film and those of Sabyasachi Chakraborty who played the sleuth in Ray’s son Sandip’s films?
As I said, nothing has been decided. If I ever remake this classic, I would love to have Aamir (Khan) in the lead.
The film is about a detective of super intelligence and I think only Aamir can do justice to such a cerebral character.
But I haven’t had any conversation with Aamir on this.
People have serious concerns about the vastly differing physical features of Ray’s sleuth and Khan...
I do understand the anxiety of Ray’s fans. But as a filmmaker, I am fully aware of the universal appeal of a film like Sonar Kella.
Hence I would not do anything that would spoil the flavour of Ray’s masterpiece.
During an informal chat, I had only expressed myself that an actor of Aamir’s calibre solely can be the new on-screen Feluda.
Image: Soumitra Chatterjee as Feluda
'Madras Cafe's subject was so difficult to handle'
Your latest film Madras Café got rave reviews Are you enjoying it?
Yes, of course! The way people have reacted to this film is overwhelming.
The concept of Vicky Donor was very new and hard-hitting. Yet it touched the right chord and became a cult film.
Similarly, the reach of Madras Café went far and wide, much to my amazement. I was so very apprehensive about this film. Now that it has tasted success, I am overjoyed.
Why were you apprehensive?
The film’s subject was so difficult to handle. No one before had ventured into this theme.
It is a real political thriller.
If you look at the history of cinema, Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi was, perhaps, as difficult as this film of mine. But then, Gandhi was more or less an art house cinema while Madras Café was more commercial and populist.
I started extensive research for this film but lost hope midway as I was in serious doubt about the film’s future.
The storyline somewhat scared me.
Can this film be ‘done’ in India? Will the film ever see the light of the day, I asked myself.
Thankfully, it did and was so well received by the people.
Were you scared of the Censor Board as the film depicts Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination and also talks about the Sri Lankan civil war?
Oh yes! At every point of the film’s making, I thought it would never get the board’s nod.
It’s not easy for a film that has Sri Lankan civil war and Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination as central themes to get past the Censor Board.
However, Madras Café had a smooth sailing throughout.
Image: John Abraham in Madras Cafe
'Ayushmann Khurana will play the lead in my next'
Please tell us about your forthcoming projects.
I am working on a couple of scripts at the moment.
I am almost through with preparations for my next one in which Ayushmann (Khurana) will play the lead.
The film will tell the small town story of a struggling actor. John Abraham will be the producer of this film.
The list of my forthcoming projects also includes a film with Amitabh Bachchan.
I am planning to shoot a major part of this film in Kolkata. If everything goes well, shooting is likely to start early next year.
Is there any Bengali film on the anvil?
I am producing Bondhu Byline by singer-actor Anindya Chatterjee of Bengali band Chandrabindoo. The film will go on the floors shortly after Durga Puja.
Set around north Kolkata, Bondhu Byline will mostly have fresh faces.
Anindya has written a lovely script and I am eagerly awaiting the film’s release slated for early next year.
I also wanted to work with Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay’s Chander Pahar but it has already been picked by Kamaleshwar Mukherjee.
Image: Shoojit Sircar (left) with Ayushmann Khurana (second from right) and John Abraham (right)
'Red Carpet will remain one of my unfulfilled dreams'
You were supposed to make a film with Rituparno Ghosh. What is its fate now?
I don’t see anyone else stepping into Ritu's shoes.
Tentatively titled Red Carpet, the film was supposed to mark Ritu’s second appearance on screen. We were supposed to write the script together.
Ritu’s death created a vacuum that can never be fulfilled.
Red Carpet will remain one of my unfulfilled dreams.
Image: Rituparno Ghosh on the sets of his last film Satyanweshi