'Chhoto hanshi chhoto kanna'

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By Katwa man Kaushik Ghatak is ready with the story of his life PRATIM D. GUPTA
  • Published 6.11.08
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Born in Katwa in Bardhaman, Kaushik Ghatak, like all Bengalis, was blown away by Satyajit Ray and Uttam Kumar. After a few film-making classes from director Asit Sen in Calcutta and a course in Delhi, Kaushik went to Mumbai where he would walk kilometres to save the three rupees for his lunch — a vada pav! Anurag Basu took him as an assistant and Kaushik was soon directing what would be the biggest serial in TV history — Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi. A firm believer in the Barjatya school of film-making, Kaushik is now ready with his directorial debut Ek Vivaah... Aisa Bhi under the Rajshri Productions banner. t2 got chatting with the very-Bengali director...

Your first film releases on Friday, your first serial goes off air on Thursday.... How do you feel?

I feel excited, thrilled.... But pre-release jitters are there (laughs)... The nervousness is because it’s my first film but, of course, we are confident about our product. As for Kyunki... going off, it is a very emotional thing. Though I left Kyunki... so many years back, having directed 150 episodes and that too at such an important stage where the original Mihir dies, I am feeling very bad about it. Kyunki... will always remain very special to me.

After a long time, the Barjatyas are getting a director from outside to helm a film. How did Ek Vivaah... Aisa Bhi happen?

Having seen my work in Kyunki..., Rajshri had called me to direct their first TV project Woh Rehnewali Mehlon Ki. I also directed Pyaar Ke Do Naam — Ek Raadha Ek Shyaam for them. Meanwhile Soorajji (Barjatya) finished Vivah and then he and Raj babu (Barjatya) told me that the time has come for me to do films. I had, in fact, gone to them long back. They asked me to leave my television work to others and make a film for them. It’s been two-and-a-half years now... I haven’t directed a single episode of any serial and just concentrated on making Ek Vivaah... Aisa Bhi.

Why did it take you so long?

After deciding on the story, we started writing the film from December 2006 and we wrote it for one year. Then we took dates from the artistes and we started shooting. We shot for six months, a total of 106 days of shooting! It was quite huge, actually (laughs)... We had an outdoor in Bhopal. Apart from that, the heroine Chandni’s

Bhopal house, the temple, the lanes, the dargah were all recreated in Mumbai’s Filmcity. Then there were shootings in a train, in an auditorium... it was quite an elaborate set-up.

When you were asked to make a film by the Barjatyas, did you have to consciously write a film that went with their sensibility?

Fortunately, I believe in all those moral values and family sentiments which Rajshri Productions stands for. Even the part of Kyunki..., which I directed — poor girl Tulsi getting married into the rich Virani family — is about the basic emotions of life. The same with Woh Rehnewali... Chhoto hanshi chhoto kanna you can call it. And I always wanted to make films on similar lines. That’s why I wanted to work with the Rajshris because I honestly believe in their school of film-making.

What is the story of Ek Vivaah...?

The concept is inspired from an Ashapurna Debi story I had read long back called Baluchari. But it’s also a lot about the life I have lived. I waited for seven years to get married. Ek Vivaah... is about this couple who spend 12 years away from each other. Chandni is a poor girl staying in a bylane of old Bhopal and Prem is the son of a rich man staying in new Bhopal. Both are singers... she sings folk songs and he sings ghazals with a guitar. They face each other in a music competition... aur kaise sur milte hain aur sur milne se kaise dil milte hain... The parents are okay with their marriage before certain circumstances happen and they are forced to separate. But the love never goes. Itna gehera prem aur us par itna sayyam...

Has Ek Vivaah... Aisa Bhi anything to do with Vivah?

This film is not a sequel to Vivah or remake of Vivah or has anything to do with Vivah. It’s a new story with new characters. There are many kinds of marriages that happen between two people. Some marriages happen physically and some happen in the mind. This is one of those. And that’s why it’s called Ek Vivaah... Aisa Bhi.

When you move from TV to films, the ideology may remain the same but the scope and the scale increase. Did you have to adjust in any way?

Television is louder than life, cinema is larger than life. When you are watching television, you are doing a whole lot of other things. More than watching TV, you are listening to TV. That’s why it’s louder. In cinema, you are captivated in the dark room... there’s just the screen and you. So a slight raising of the brow becomes very big. In TV, we have to swish-pan and crash-zoom to get the attention of viewers. So for Ek Vivaah... I didn’t have to use any gimmick. I could be as subtle as I wanted. Also, conceptually, TV is like a newspaper and cinema is like a book. Both have their own importance. You can’t do without a morning newspaper but by evening the newspaper goes and there’s a new one next day. On the other hand, a book is something you read and you keep it on the shelf. If you like it, you will tell your friend to read that book. It is forever.

Coming to the cast, why pick Sonu Sood and Ishaa Koppikar, who are neither stars nor newcomers?

It is a very unconventional casting for sure. We didn’t want any stars because we didn’t want people to go in looking for stars. We wanted them to identify them as Prem and Chandni. A big star can destroy the purity, the simplicity... Newcomers would have found it difficult to play the characters, which have so many layers to them. Both Ishaa and Sonu almost broke down during the narration and I could see that they could feel for the characters.

How was Sooraj Barjatya involved with the film?

He was totally involved during the scripting stage. In fact, we sat in front of him while writing. But once the script was over, he didn’t interfere at all. It was a big advantage for me because being a director himself, Soorajji could understand how much space a director needs to create what he wants to create. And when he tells you how much he likes a particular shot, that’s like an Oscar, coming from Soorajji.