Swasitka and Mainak at the t2 chat in Rainey Court Residency. Picture: Pabitra Das
Maach Mishti & More is in its fifth week. What’s the feedback?
Mainak: Fabulous! A lot of people are interacting on Facebook. They even know the dialogues! It’s not something I am used to.
Swastika: I think what people have loved most about MM&M is that we’ve shown a lot of crises in everybody’s lives, which they could relate to, but we didn’t make a big deal of it. There was no gyan. We didn’t stretch the crisis points, which I think is the mantra of this generation. They face challenges without making an issue, whether it’s a divorce or a break-up. The characters in MM&M know how to move on, which is so ‘now’. And the most common thing I’ve heard, even from my mom’s friends, is that they really laughed a lot.
Mainak: MM&M is like a T20 match, it’s not really a movie experience.
Swastika: Another problem we’ve addressed is the fact that this generation works so much and they are so bored with their lives that they don’t even think about what’s happening in their sex life. That’s really a problem because I have seen my friends going through it — either one of them wants it (sex) and the other person doesn’t, or they are tired, or they are working like maniacs.
Mainak: Also, the confusion. The most important question is what do you want to do in life? Somebody who is 50 still wishes he had done that and somebody who’s 21 is not sure what he wants to do.... For me, it’s a constant attempt to do films about Calcutta 2012, 2013.
You mean all your films will be on Calcutta?
Mainak: A certain part of the city I have known which I would like to explore. After watching Aamra and Bedroom, a lot of people thought I didn’t have any Bangaliana and I make films with no parents! But I have been brought up in a family, and MM&M takes care of that.
Swastika: The language in MM&M is very today. My daughter speaks a lot of Hindi. MM&M is not just a Bengali film. There are so many languages that it automatically becomes a film for the non-Bengalis.
Mainak: I wasn’t sure how the Marwaris would like it because there’s as much Marwari bashing as Bengali bashing, but the Marwari crowd enjoyed it.
Swastika, you were not in great shape during the making of MM&M. But you wore shorts and people loved it too...
Swastika: Yes, this is something I wanted to talk about.
Mainak: Her putting on weight wasn’t a problem for me at all. I forced her to wear shorts! (Laughs)
Swastika: Actually, Anikda (Dutta) had asked me to put on weight for Bhooter Bhobishyot. When we started shooting for MM&M, I realised I had put on a lot of weight and when I used to see the monitor, I used to yell like King Kong! When I watched MM&M before release, I told Mainak to chop the scenes where I am walking around Gariahat in shorts. But after the release, men tweeted that Reena (Swastika) is so like today’s girls who don’t give a damn about their weight!
Mainak: I thought she looked real and interesting.... Like I wanted Raima (Sen) to dress in a weird way. The fact that Raima is wacky, I wanted to use it. A filmmaker can be confident when he knows he is a good audience, which I am. I don’t know if I am a good filmmaker but I know I enjoy this person in real life and I know someone else will like her too.
The cameos were really good..
Mainak: Taking someone like Ajopa (Mukherjee) or Neha (Panda), I think, made the film very interesting. Making a film is also partly like being a coach... like casting Anubrata as Raj, the third brother. I am sure a lot of actors would have done it well but the fact that he has not been used as much makes him so interesting.
A lot of people laughed like crazy during the Neha-Anubrata bike scene…
Mainak: See, when I am making an MM&M sort of a film I am exposing myself. So that Neha-Anubrata bike scene is actually from my life where my mother, girlfriends, aunts have driven me around! I don’t drive, I have had a lot of women driving me around, which can be very funny.
Do you think Shauvik was the right choice as the elder brother?
Mainak: I think nobody could have played it better than Shauvik!
Swastika: I think his stiffness worked because his character is someone who has never lived in Calcutta....
Mainak: He is a thermostat. We had a screening in Singapore and people loved Shauvik. NRIs related to him.
Swastika: There were a lot of intimate scenes between Shauvik and me, and he is somebody who rehearses a lot before a shot...
Mainak: Very studious, reads his lines 17 times!
Swastika:: I told Mainak that our characters have been married for long and they have lived abroad, so the kissing scenes should not look like it’s a big deal, we have to do it as if we do it every day. But Shauvik used to rehearse 20 times and the funniest part was the mosquito net scene. He asked me if we could rehearse and he started kissing me, making a lot of noise! And everyone watching the monitor started giggling. The technicians had a bizarre expression on their face! Here, when we shoot an intimate scene, we make a big deal of it. We ask everyone to clear out and only a handful of people are allowed inside the room. But on Mainak’s set, it’s like any other scene!
Mainak: Yes, because if you don’t make a big deal of intimate scenes, it becomes easier. It is like any other scene. It’s normal. I remember in The Bong Connection, there was a kissing scene between Piya (Raichaudhuri) and Param (Parambrata Chattopadhyay); it was discussed so much that it never happened! Both of them panicked! So I thought if I ever had to get it done, I shouldn’t discuss it.
The Shauvik-Pamela fling is too short. It could have been developed, isn’t it?
Mainak: I guess so. I could have shot the Pamela-Shauvik date better. I could have built on it. Actually, Shauvik was on a time constraint. I wish I could have shot some of those scenes again. Not from the performance point, from the technical point.
Swastika: I told Mainak, you’re pairing Shauvik and Pamela and Pamela has a stunning figure. Look at me! The husband anyway won’t come back to his wife! (Both burst out laughing)
Don’t you think the song sequences could have been picturised better?
Mainak: Possibly. I am horrible at shooting songs. I have always used songs to either show the isolation of the person or how they are growing apart. Instead of going to a location or making it look very staged, I just put in the songs where my characters are walking on the roads, so it doesn’t look choreographed.
MM&M is a film you were trying to make for four years. Are you happy it’s finally happened and been accepted?
Mainak: Yes. Absolutely! Honestly, Aamra didn’t have an audience. At that time (2006), the kind of films I was making, everyone thought it didn’t have an audience. But I could see there was an audience. So to me, MM&M is like coming full circle. The audience came back to the theatres to watch my film. I wasn’t wrong!
What did you like best/ least about MM&M? Tell firstname.lastname@example.org