I felt there’s too little romance in Shatru. That’s why probably there were fewer women viewers. But the action sequences are several notches above what we’ve seen in Bangla cinema so far. They are superb! — RAJIB
Produced by: Surinder Films
Released in: 166 theatres in Bengal
Budget: Around Rs 5 crore
First week collections: Rs 4.15 crore
Dujone, Amanush and now Paglu. Is this your career-best phase?
Yes, honestly. My life changed after Amanush released last year. People realised my potential as a director. It was a very different film and I will always be very proud of Amanush. But Paglu has cemented my position in Tollywood. Career-wise, it has taken me a few steps forward. Its been a huge success and my producer (Nishpal Singh of Surinder Films) hasnt stopped smiling since the films release! Paglu is doing well in the halls as well as the plexes. Kids are liking it very much because a lot of them are crazy about Dev.
| Dev and Koel in Paglu
Did you expect Paglu to be this big a hit?
Not while making it, but after the post-production got over in Chennai, I watched the film and when the end credits started rolling I called my producers and said that Paglu would rock. I also called Dev to tell him what a wonderful film weve made. And that was also the day when I told my producer that I didnt have a problem if another film released alongside Paglu!
Were you still optimistic when you learnt Shatru would release on the same day as Paglu?
I was prepared for it. Even Amanush had released on the same day as Ravi Kinnagis Wanted, starring Jeet. And I was... I wont say disappointed... but a little scared because Raviji (Kinnagi) had given many hits. So I was okay with the idea of Paglu and Shatru releasing on the same day. Besides, I look at it positively. Another release also gives me the chance to prove myself.
But the audience surely gets divided...
See, a Dev fan will watch Paglu first but he will definitely watch Shatru in the second week; the same goes for a Jeet fan. But the idea that two big films releasing on the same day eat into each others business is a myth. If the story is good, both films will do well. Maybe the initial collections will suffer a bit, but after that its the story that will pull in the audience.
Have you seen Shatru?
Yes, I have. In fact, I have seen the original Telugu film Singham too, which was a huge success down south. Its an action film, a one-track storyŚ a tough cop fighting the corrupt system.
Would you have made Shatru any other way?
Well, I liked Shatru. I would have made it in a similar manner because the story is such that you cant digress much. But had I made it, I would have kept more romantic moments between the lead characters (Jeet and Nusrat Jahan). I felt theres too little romance in Shatru. Thats why probably there were fewer women viewers. People need a breather. But I must say that the action sequences of Shatru are several notches above what weve seen in Bangla cinema so far. They are superb!
Would you have made Paglu with Jeet instead of Dev?
No, I couldnt have made Paglu with Jeet just as Dev couldnt have pulled off the cops role in Shatru. The whole first half of Paglu revolves around campus fun and Jeet wouldnt have suited a college boys character. His college friends would look younger than him! Similarly, Dev wouldnt suit the role of Dibakar Singha (Jeet in Shatru). Jeet looks and plays the part of a mature, tough cop so well. Devs face lacks that kind of maturity.
You work with Shree Venkatesh Films and Eskay Movies. How do you balance both?
I have no problem working with any production house. I have discussed it with Srikantda (Mohta of Venkatesh Films) and he doesnt have a problem.
I will definitely catch Paglu... Two films releasing together is like a litmus test for the directors and the verdict will be given by the audience. so it’s interesting! — RAJ
Produced by: Eskay Movies
Released in: 128 halls in Bengal
Budget: Rs 6 crore
First week collections: Rs 2.5 crore-plus
Shatru has released in 38 halls less than Paglu. Does that feel bad?
No. Because of more halls, they had a huge initial (first week collections). They might have recovered more than half their budget within the first week, but we will have a good collection in the long run. Both Paglu and Shatru will recover their costs, but Shatru will take more time than Paglu to do it. Thats the only difference. Had I made Shatru two years back, this could have posed a problem because the quality of halls was poor. Now all that has changed. Besides, Shatru is getting a lot of word-of-mouth publicity. My only point is we have to get some better halls in Calcutta because I have an audience here in the city, like the college students, who do not like to watch films in Bijoli or Chhabighar. So we are trying to release Shatru in Priya... lets see.
Were you okay with the idea of Shatru releasing on the same day as Paglu?
Yes. I wasnt worried even a wee bit because everyone in the industry knows that Raj Chakraborty likes challenges. Two films releasing together is like a litmus test for both the directors and whats nice is that the verdict will be given by the audience... so its interesting. There should always be healthy competition, otherwise theres no fun in work!
|Jeet in Shatru
But now that the two films are out, who do you think enjoys more popularityŚ Dev or Jeet?
I cant say that because Shatru and Paglu are both running to packed theatres. So I think both are popular. I have seen girls kissing Devs posters and I have seen girls drooling over a Jeet poster too.
Have you seen Paglu?
No, I havent had the time yet because Im very busy shooting Proloy Ashchhe, a mega serial for ABP TV. But I will definitely catch it soon.
Your debut film Chirodini... Tumi Je Amar was like a breath of fresh air but then there was far less competition in Tollywood. Now with directors like Rajib and Sujit Mondal around, isnt it tough?
Im not competing with anyone here except myself. See, all of us who are making commercial films are following the hit formula. When a director makes a film and if that becomes a hit even the producers want to keep those aspects in their next film. So theres no competition and thats why I dont look back. Chirodini was made on a budget of Rs 7 lakh and Shatrus budget is Rs 6 crore, so I am only competing with myself and even if we are all making commercial films our footprints will be very individualistic.
In what ways are you different from your contemporaries?
I think I make better romantic films and I am good with comedy!
But youve never made a comedy!
But Ive had comic characters and also comic scenes in all my films. The second half of Chirodini had the entire messbari sequence, which was very comic. In Challenge and now in Shatru too, a major portion has comedy. Not that I never tried making a comedy, but no producer wanted to back a comedy and I dont have that much money to produce one. The day I will get a producer whos willing to produce a comedy I will do it.
When will you make an original film instead of a remake?
Whenever I get a producer who will have faith in me and put his money in an original concept, like Srijan Arts did when they produced Le Chakka. I am always ready to do original if the producers are ready.