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Make vs Remake

With Bojhena Shey Bojhena poised to complete a four-week run at the box office, three Tolly directors — Mainak Bhaumik, Birsa Dasgupta and Kamaleshwar Mukherjee — cooked up a storm over burgers and cappuccino with the film’s maker Raj Chakraborty at Saffron, The Park, on a January evening.

Mainak: Bojhena Shey Bojhena (starring Abir Chatterjee, Payel Sarkar, Mimi Chakraborty and Soham, released on December 28) is a very honest film, an absolute entertainer, a complete performance-based film, superbly shot by Raj....

Birsa: Suvankar (Bhar) shot it!

Mainak: Well, Raj has designed it and it’s a fun film to watch. Honestly, I’m not somebody who watches mainstream films very often but I really enjoyed it. After Chirodini... Tumi Je Aamar, Bojhena... is the second mainstream film I watched! And I preferred it to Chirodini..., I thought it was a much superior film.

Kamaleshwar: I too loved the film. It’s a sweet love story. We don’t get to see sweet love stories anymore.

Birsa: Most importantly, Bojhena... is a film which resolves a lot of issues like the urban-rural divide. There’s been an issue that we make very urban coffee-table films and at the same time we make absolute commercial movies where acting becomes unimportant. I think Bojhena... is the kind of film which is a bridge between the urban and the rural. And I feel we are all heading in that direction where we want to make films to cater to a lot of people.

Raj: See, everyone knows that this a remake of a south film, right? I have borrowed the concept and the screenplay from the original film. As a director what I have done is, given it a Bangaliana, so that the characters are the way I want them to be. I have not blindly copied from the original. The Bengali audience should be able to relate to the film. The production design, the camerawork has my stamp. But to be honest, since I have made mostly remakes so far, I have tried to make this differently from the original.

Birsa: See, I have a problem with the word remake. I think all of us make remakes, some are inspired...

Raj: No, there’s a difference between being inspired and a remake. I take the copyright of a south film and then remake the film.... I took Bojhena... as a workshop. I told myself if I can make this film the way I want to, it will be a kind of a workshop for me as a director. It’s a tough film to do, where 90 per cent of the shoot takes place on the road. When I first saw the film I felt how tough it is to make a film like this. That was a challenge.

Kamal: See, even if you are making remakes you have to make the actors act and have to shoot the film. Bojhena’s execution is very good. Acting-wise all four are brilliant, camerawork is very good....

Birsa: Editing too. Despite the non-linear structure. I saw the film much before its release and felt that Bodhaditya (Bandopadhyay, editor) had done a great job. See, if I would have made Bojhena, I would have made it much more non-linear but Raj has made it much easier, more linear. I would have played more with the accident. I would have shot the city parts a little more.

Mainak: I would have never made a film like Bojhena..., oto raastar moddhey pagoler moto complicated ekta shooting! (Laughs) I would have set a story in a CCD! And the bus accident wouldn’t have happened! For me, Bojhena... is simply an entertainer. I loved the way Raj made it. That’s his forte.

Birsa: What’s interesting is, Maach Mishti & More or Bojhena... we are all making different types of films.

Raj: My unit members know that till the time I come across a tough subject or until and unless my shoots are complicated, I don’t make the film. Even if I make remakes I tell my producer that I will remake such a film which nobody else can remake. You know it’s very tough to shoot on the busy roads of Calcutta. Whoever is making remakes, they shoot in Hyderabad. I never go and shoot in Hyderabad.

Birsa: Yes, he has a point. I don’t want to make anyone feel small, but apart from Raj whoever is making remakes is just copying scene-by-scene, shooting it inside a set and making the film look very artificial.

Mainak: What I feel is that we never bring up a particular topic while talking about remakes. Here the perception is that remake maneyi ekta negativity, lack of originality and the fact never comes up that Martin Scorsese’s The Departed (2006) was a remake of a Hong Kong film... it wins an Oscar because Scorsese gives his touch. The Ring (2002) was a remake of a Japanese horror film. The whole point is, change it according to the people you are making it for and automatically it becomes yours.

Raj: My luck is bad... many directors do remakes but when I am making one it becomes an issue..... The word remake is repeated so many times.... I love remakes!

Birsa: No, that’s because till today the kind of return that your films have given, nobody has given. Also you are the most popular director in Tollywood.

Raj: See Mainak, when I made Le Chakka, believe you me it was an original story. But everyone said it was a remake. So whether I make an original film or a remake I will always be known as a remake filmmaker! Today it doesn’t matter to me anymore.

Mainak: See, once you are stamped, it’s very difficult…. Today, for instance, if I ever decide that I will shoot Maach Mishti... in Shyambazar with a mom, dad and a joint family somehow it won’t work because Mainak means CCD, I can’t come out of this branding.

Raj: But as a filmmaker you need to break this notion, nah?

Mainak: Even if I break that, people are not ready to accept.

Raj: People will accept, but it’s the insiders who don’t want that to happen. We, the industry, have to accept a change in us first. Now I am making an original film called Proloy (Parambrata Chattopadhyay and Saswata Chatterjee). Since the day I have announced the film, many in Tollywood are busy researching which film I am copying!