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Ritwik Ghatak

Ad-filmmaker Kamaleshwar Mukherjee, who made Uro Chithi last year, is back from Purulia to shoot the Calcutta leg of his untitled film (produced by Shree Venkatesh Films) based on the life and films of Ritwik Ghatak. On a sweltering Thursday afternoon, the team was cooped up in Muktangan auditorium off Rashbehari Avenue.

“We are shooting the scenes where Ritwikbabu is staging a play in an asylum. He spent a lot of time in the asylum in his later life. But I must add that my film isn’t a biography of Ghatak. It’s also a work of fiction. Ritwik Ghatak has a tremendous influence on me and that’s why I thought of doing a film tracking his creative thought process and a little bit of his personal life and relationships,” says Kamaleshwar, in between shots.

Saswata, as Nilkantha

Muktangan is cramped, almost stifling, but the lead cast of the three Chatterjees — Saswata, Ananya and Abir — aren’t complaining. They are happily digging into the lunch spread of saag, dal, machher jhol and chutney.

“We’ve shot the most important scenes in Purulia.... Purulia aashte tahole moja bujhte!” Saswata tells us. He plays Nilkantha Bagchi, the character Ghatak had portrayed in Jukti Takko Aar Gappo. [The 1974 film was Ghatak’s last.]

“Am I looking like Ritwik Ghatak?” asks Saswata, dressed in dhuti-panjabi, a bucktooth, cropped hair and Ghatak’s trademark thick, black-framed glasses. “I don’t look exactly like him but yes, to a large extent.... I watched Jukti Takko Aar Gappo again a couple of days back as part of homework,” he adds.

After a round of rehearsals, Saswata takes a look at the mirror. “Have I lost a bit of weight?! I am trying to lose some more... but all that is superficial. I am trying to give my best to this role. After all, this is my second film after Abar Aashbo Phire (2004) where I have a central character! Though I don’t like to look at it that way.... I have even accepted bit roles in films and have tried to give my best.”

Ananya, as Durga

The roles have started rolling Ananya’s way after her National Award win for Abohoman. “I loved this film’s screenplay. I told Kamalda that even if I am given a one-scene role, I would do it. My character, Nilkantha’s wife Durga, goes through a lot in life. She even goes behind bars for her party. A very strong woman.... I don’t want to say much. She dotes on her husband but after a point it becomes impossible to stay with him,” says Ananya. “In Purulia, we shot a long rain sequence and it was funny because people were going mad in the sun while inside we would get wet and sing songs!” she laughs, which wakes up Abir from his catnap.

Abir, the wife!

Abir plays a psychiatrist to Saswata’s Nilkantha. And the two are thick here too, like in the Bomkesh Bakshi films. “Actually, in this film, Abir is like Saswata’s wife because they are together in most of the scenes!” Ananya laughs out loud.

“I guess it’s meant to be like that between Apuda (Saswata) and me!” Abir relents. “When Durga brings Nilkantha to the asylum, my character Dr Mukherjee tries to find out Nilkantha’s confusions... why he became a filmmaker and his ideologies. My job is to observe and listen to Nilkantha. We have great chemistry!” winks Abir.


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