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'The script of Bhooter Bhobishyot has been sold for about Rs 1 crore'

January 05, 2014 10:20 IST

'The script of Bhooter Bhobishyot has been sold for about Rs 1 crore'

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Indrani Roy in Kolkata

Anik DattaTill just a few years ago, his was an insignificant name in the advertising world.

Not any more.

Film director Anik Dutta took the Bengali film industry by storm with his maiden venture, Bhooter Bhobishyot, in 2012.

His second film, Aschorjo Pradeep, released last year, has also been well received by viewers.

An unconventional theme, ensemble cast, crisp dialogues and smart camerawork have earned Datta’s films much popularity.

It’s being said that movie buffs in Bengal have finally got someone to talk excitedly about after Rituparno Ghosh’s untimely demise.

In a free-wheeling interview with Indrani Roy, Datta talks about his movies, the influence of Satyajit Ray on his work and much more.

After the phenomenal success of Bhooter Bhobishyot, Aschorjo Prodeep is also getting rave reviews.

The script of Aschorjo Pradeep based on Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay’s work was ready before I conceived Bhooter Bhobishyot.

For various reasons, it did not see the light of day and Bhooter Bhobisyot happened.

The rest is history.

Please click Next to see more.

 


Image: A scene from Aschorjo Pradeep

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'Satyajit Ray was a huge influence'

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Ayan, the central character of Bhooter Bhobishyot, said he drew inspiration from Satyajit Ray. What about you?

Ray was a huge influence, always.

I am tempted to refer to the effect Ray’s Pather Panchali had on filmmaker Martin Scorsese. On Satyajitray.org, Scorsese said, ‘Ray's magic, the simple poetry of his images and their emotional impact will always stay with me’.

Nothing can summarise my thoughts about the legend better.

I started nurturing a desire to make films when I was in Class XI. During the mid 1970s, I was initiated into the world of Indian and foreign films of repute.

I was drawn to the medium, but I wasn’t actually a cine buff.

My interest brought me to the world of advertising and my assignments there helped me hone my skills.

In the early 1990s, I quit my cushy ad job and ventured into full-time filmmaking. I planned to make a political thriller based on the famous actor Uttam Kumar’s plight after he accidentally witnessed a political murder.

The legendary actor, as we all know, was forced to go into exile.

For that project, I drew inspiration from the 1982-film Grihajuddha written and directed by Buddhadev Dasgupta.  

Sadly, my venture failed to materialise and I had no option but to rejoin the ad world.


Image: A scene from Bhooter Bhobishyot

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'I feel proud that the Mumbai film industry has picked a Bengali superhit after so many years'

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Tell us about the making of Bhooter Bhobishyot.

We chose the royal palace of Sreerampur as the location. We would start early in the morning and commute daily from Kolkata.

We shot for about 25 days in all. It was a wonderful experience.

Bhooter Bhobishyot is being filmed in Hindi.

Yes, and I hear that the script has been sold for about Rs 1 crore (Rs 10 million).

This has become a bone of contention between me and the film’s producer. My right over the script has not been acknowledged properly and some unpleasantness has ensued between us.

I hear that the Hindi version of the film will have many famous names -- Jackie Shroff, Anupam Kher, Sharman Joshi et al.

I feel proud that the Mumbai film industry has picked a Bengali superhit after so many years.

The film is also being redone in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada. Talks are on with a Chinese and an English producer as well.

Do you plan to take the producer to court?

It’s an extremely bitter topic to discuss. Please allow me to skip the question.

 


Image: Poster of Bhooter Bhobishyot

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'The script of Bhooter Bhobishyot dictated its format'

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Any reason for your choosing an ensemble cast for Bhooter Bhobishyot? Were you treading the path of modern filmmakers?

I intended to weave some drama into the film that would portray various periods. For this, I had to go for an ensemble cast.

Also, let me tell you, this is not a modern trend. Stalwarts of yesteryear have come together in unforgettable films like Sare Chuattor (a film by Nirmal Dey), Galpo Holeo Sotyi (a film by Tapan Sinha) etc.

It’s the script of Bhooter Bhobishyot that dictated its format.

Do you believe in ghosts?

No.

But while shooting for an ad film, I once had to spend a few lonely hours in an old house.

It was a weird feeling, all the more so because the caretaker of the house popped up from nowhere and after feeding me a few ghostly stories, he left.

I felt a bit scared after that. It seemed as if I was being watched by someone. (Smiles)

I recreated this episode in the film.

A strange thing happened when Avik (Mukhopadhyay), the film’s director of photography, my two assistants and I were travelling to Sreerampur on a rainy night to shoot.

There were no vehicles around but suddenly, a truck appeared out of nowhere behind our car. We saw 'Avik' and 'Anik' written on the face of the truck.

It's weird that a truck driver's name would be Avik and Anik, the same as ours.

We were numb.

And just after a second, the truck disappeared. 


Image: A scene from Bhooter Bhobishyot

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'You can't make feel-good films all the time'

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Coming to Aschorjo Pradeep, it isn’t a feel good movie like your first one.

No. The film speaks about modern-day Alladins who are incessantly brought into the cobweb of consumerism.

The film makes use of magic realism and portrays how Anil, the central character, though a small cog in the wheel of the modern rat race, reaches his doom because of his typical middle-class greed for ‘more’.

This film, unlike Bhooter Bhobishyot, takes the viewers to the heights of fancy only to bring them down to earth with a rather harsh jolt.

Wasn’t it a risky theme to handle? Some say the end is too predictable.

Of course. I intentionally took the risk to drive home a message.

After all, you can’t make feel-good films all the time.

As far as the finish is concerned, it was as predictable as our modern, urban lives are.


Image: A scene from Aschorjo Pradeep

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'Saswata was the fittest person to play the protagonist in Aschorjo Pradeep'

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Is there any reason why you chose Rajatabha Dutta and Saswata Chatterjee?

Saswata was the fittest person to play the protagonist in Aschorjo Pradeep.

As for Rajatabha, who played the genie, I had someone from the Hindi film industry in mind initially. But as the script evolved, I needed someone who could speak archaic Bengali with flawless fluency.

Rajatabha was the natural choice.

Getting his dates was a problem as Rajatabha needed to shave off his head for this role.

Viewers have lapped up the dialogues of both your films. How do you manage to pen such unforgettable lines?

I come from the ad world where a copywriter needs to come up with a punch line every 20 seconds!

Probably, that got into me while I wrote the scripts for my films.


Image: Saswata Chatterjee in Aschorjo Pradeep

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'I am working on a detective story'

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What are your future projects?

I am working on a detective story right now, a thriller to be precise.

Viewers are floored by the last scene in Aschorjo Pradeep where a farmer ferrying a scarecrow on his bicycle is also drawn into the trap of consumerism. How did you plan it?

Your question reminds me of an interview of Sachin Tendulkar that I saw on television.

A reporter asked him about a certain shot that he played. And his answer was, “Most often than not, I play by instinct without thinking much.”

I, too, am mostly goaded by my gut feeling.

While making films, I let the creative impulse get the better of me.

I don’t believe in analysis, I just call the shots.


Image: A scene from Aschorjo Pradeep

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