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Since 1st March, 1999
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Love in the time of war

Four years after Teesta, theatre director Bratya Basu is ready with his Diwali release, Tara, a hard-hitting political tale laced with love. A t2 chat...

The tagline of Tara says it has ‘state interference, stigma, retaliation and above all... love’. Can you decode that for our readers?

Tara has a political backdrop but it is essentially a story of love involving three characters (played by Prosenjit, Tota Roy Chowdhury and Paoli Dam). My film reflects the times we are living in. It’s somewhat like Dil Se or Satya, where the love for your country is the mainstay with a romantic love story woven in.

But the Maoist issue does form the core of Tara

I wanted to create awareness among people about what’s happening in Lalgarh in the name of curbing terrorism. The standpoint in Tara is counter-violence. But I wanted to make a mainstream film on this subject. So, there is romance, there’s a lot of drama.

We have shot some very difficult chase scenes at busy spots like Park Street, Russell Street and Free School Street with cars speeding past.

What were the reasons to cast Prosenjit, Paoli and Tota?

Prosenjit plays a compassionate Maoist and I chose him because he is a superstar and a very good actor at the same time. His box-office pull is important for my film. Paoli plays this girl-next-door who fights to save her father, who has been thrown into a police lock-up, and I felt her look was just right for this role.

Tota plays an honest IPS officer and I thought he was the best person to play a fighting-fit police officer.

You kept the role of the hard-core Telugu-speaking Maoist leader for yourself. Why?

Because I felt it would be best if I played that role myself.... He is a man for whom the party ideology is the final word. There is no room for personal sentiments.

Have you based these characters on real people?

I have grown up in the College Street para, studied at Presidency College... so I have seen a few political leaders from close quarters, have spent time with them and have a fair idea about them. Besides, I read Arundhati Roy’s writings, media reports and several documents that I had procured.... All this served as the basis to sketch the characters.... I had IPS officer Nazrul Islam in mind while writing Tota’s character.

Tara seems less subtle when compared to your last film Teesta

It is because I didn’t want to restrict my audience. I do not want any rural-urban divide with Tara. I want my film to be seen by the multiplex crowd as well as the masses on the fringes.

Was Tara initially conceived for the stage?

No, I wouldn’t have been able to show the chases and the fisticuffs, which are necessary. And also because I wanted the subject to reach a larger number of people.

I do theatre and films from two totally different standpoints. I do theatre when I need to have an intellectual exercise, when I need to share my thoughts and I have the urban intellectual crowd in mind. The advantage is that I am the producer there. But I make films keeping everyone in mind and I try to make sure that the producer gets back his money.

Do you make a film only when you really want to and have something specific to say, unlike theatre which you always do?

No. I am doing Tara four years after Teesta because I didn’t get a producer so long. I feel you need to have good public relations in order to get a producer and I didn’t have time for all that since I was busy with theatre. All my films have happened through friends. I have never gone out looking for a producer.

Which do you feel more comfortable with, films or theatre?

I am comfortable with both. I think I understand both the mediums equally well.

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