Rang Milanti is the best among your three comedies (Jackpot and Brakefail). Do you think youve got better at comedy?
Yes, certainly. But Rang Milanti is not just another comedy. It has a deep message about love, divorce and separation. I think Rang Milanti is my best attempt at comedy because I have matured as a director and I made the film with a couldnt-care-less attitude. I took a lot of liberty as a director. Hoi hoi kore chhobita baniyechhi. I love Brakefail as a film, its very dear to me. But I realise that the format was very flat. Jackpot is a very good film and it would have been a hit had I not succumbed to pressure. I should have made the film differently with fewer songs. See, every director has a gharana. My audience disowned Jackpot because I had deceived them. The audience expects something unique from me, which is there in Rang Milanti.
Yes, the subject of Rang Milanti is novel and the five leading actors — Ridhima, Gaurav, Tanaji, Indrasish and Gourab — are fresh too...
Yes, thats why I had chosen them. Honestly, when I thought of making the film, I had a different cast in mind. I wanted to make the film with Rudra (Rudranil Ghosh) and a few others. But then I realised that the subject demanded a fresh cast as the audience should not know what to expect. Would you believe it, I auditioned more than 200 youngsters from various colleges! Every evening I would sit in a south Calcutta coffee shop and audition students. But I chose Ridhima, Gaurav, Tanaji, Indrasish and Gourab despite the fact that they are not completely fresh. Ridhima did a few films which I have not seen, Tanaji did Madly Bangalee, the rest have done television. Filmta dekhe shobai Laden, Laden kore chechachhe (Tanajis character in the film is called Laden). I am glad that I took them. Tanaji was my student at St Xaviers.... Making Rang Milanti has liberated me as a director. I had a lot of fun after the serious Aarekti Premer Galpo.
Wasnt it a risk casting so many youngsters?
No. I dont think a film works because of stars. Its the story that is important. As a director, I have never really bothered about how my films will do at the box-office because I cant help it. So casting newcomers isnt a risk. Theres something called a beginners luck. Besides, Rang Milanti is not a slapstick comedy, you know, such comedies dont work in Bengal. I have realised that the Bengali audience loves to watch a Paresh Rawal or Asrani in comic roles, no matter how repetitive their antics are, but when a Kharaj Mukherjee does that they call it bharamo. So its better to steer clear of that genre and do a comedy which is different and has other elements too.
Most of the games the young cast play in the film are interesting, except one where the boys run on the streets to reach the girl...
Basically, the games are played so that she (Ridhima) can choose the right partner from the four boys. More than the games, what is interesting is that each game has a title borrowed from a film, like Amanush, Asukh, Father, Kapurush Mahapurush.... Thats very innovative. Besides, there are a lot of fantasy elements in the film, like when Saswata (Chatterjee) poses as a psychiatrist. Bastobe orom hoy naki, dhur! I know that when Kamalika (Ridhima) is playing the 10 games, some among the audience are playing 22 mind games! Certain things in the film are not to be taken seriously.
What was your inspiration for a subject like this?
Separation and too many divorces. I thought of how a modern-day swayamvar would be like. Thats how I developed the story.
But you seem to have a thing for games. Even Jackpot was based on a reality show.
Well, Rang Milanti is more about an exercise. Jackpot was about a reality show and about who won the game. Here the game comes as a disguise. I am dealing with a serious issue in the guise of an exercise.
Are you happy with all the performances?
Yes, I generally am because I am a very fussy director. I am satisfied with everyone in the film.
Churni has mostly been seen in serious roles. What made you cast her as a commercial cinema heroine?
Churni is there in most of my films and I cant offer her similar roles always. Her role is inspired by what I see around. Its diagonally opposite to what Churni is in real life. She is a very no-nonsense person, completely opposite to what Saswata (Chatterjee) is in real life, who loves cracking jokes and pulling ones leg. So, it made my job easy to cast them as husband and wife at loggerheads because in the film too they play very different people.
Youve taken Saswata in many of your films...
I think Saswata is the most underrated actor in Tollywood. I also think he is an indispensable actor. We havent given him his due yet. Starting from The Bong Connection, where he dazzled in a bit role, to Laptop (yet-to-release) where I have cast him in a very serious role... I mean you can just give him anything and he will excel. He is brilliant, be it in his comic timing or emotional scenes. He is the only actor who has successfully created a bridge between television and cinema.
Glimpses of The Rang Milanti premiere at Priya Cinema on friday