Arjunn Dutta’s next film Deep Fridge, stars Abir Chatterjee, Tnusree Chakraborty, Debjani Chatterjee, Anuradha Mukherjee, Shoaib Kabeer, and Lakshya Bhattacharya. In Deep Fridge, both Swarnava and Mili are victims of a vicious, prejudiced idea of a perfectly happy marriage. A Telegraph chat with Arjunn.
What is the genesis of the film?
I’ve always been a keen observer and have been intrigued by interpersonal dynamics. Divorce has become a common aspect of today’s society more than ever before yet we refuse to talk about it. I’ve seen couples around me who are not happy in their marriages and in the course of time, they got divorced. But one thing has always absorbed me, does the essence of the old connection wane away completely or it lasts somewhere deep inside the heart forever? And also the one who suffers the most in the entire process is the child if there is any. That innocent also needs to get the best guardianship and care. So Deep Fridge chronicles the journey of such a couple with a child post their divorce.
Tell us about the storyline.
Divorces can be tricky and tough. Our human brains have evolved to hone a drive for love and partnership that lasts just long enough until one is predisposed. In Deep Fridge, produced by Colors of Dream Entertainment, both Swarnava and Mili are victims of this vicious, prejudiced idea of a perfectly happy marriage. Will they be able to seek closure and see things with more clarity in an effort to build a guilt-free future for both of them separately which is fair to their only child Tatai? The Fridge plays the third lead in this narrative, a rock-solid chunk of emotions buried deep inside the freezer, not only serving as a metaphor for Mili’s inner demons but also a friend in need and an escape for Swarnava time and again.
Why cast Abir and Tnusree?
Abirda and Tnusree are both terrific actors and for a long time, I have wanted to collaborate with them. I’ve also seen them together on screen. They share a palpable chemistry with each other and have this comfortability factor which gets reflected on the screen. In Deep Fridge, I intend to do the opposite, alienate them from each other and create a certain kind of discomfort which is required for this particular narrative. So this will be a different take on this pair. And also both look very good together.
One more thing, I always try to experiment with my actors and cast them in roles which they’ve not played earlier. Both Abirda and Tnusree have not explored this genre of film that much so as a maker it would be fascinating for me to direct them in this space.
Tell us about their characters.
Abirda plays Swarnava, he’s a sought-after economist whose fiscal and analytical articles are taken very seriously since it’s relevant and pertinent in today’s economic scenario. He is a man of few words, extremely chivalrous and has a very good sense of humour, he loves his son Tatai immensely.Tnusree plays Mili, she’s an HR manager in a reputed MNC. She is a bit rigid and gets prompted by natural instinct. At the same time, she is an extremely responsible woman and a natural caregiver whose world revolves around her son.
Who are the other cast members?
Apart from Abir and Tnusree, Deep Fridge (screenplay by Arjunn Dutta and Ashirbad Maitra) has an ensemble cast including Anuradha Mukherjee, Debjani Chatterjee, Shoaib Kabeer and Lakshya Bhattacharya. Another two important casting is in the process. The DOP is Supratim Bhol and music is by Soumya Rit.
In your films, your characters are very relatable, we see these people in our day-to-day lives. You said that you had grown up watching these women... from empowering homemakers to talking about divorces, why do you feel the need to tell these stories?
I strongly believe in the fact that cinema has always been a reflection of our society. I like telling humane stories which are close to reality, tales of flesh and blood people. We see diverse people around us with different character traits thereby painting a myriad of human emotions. I feel fascinated by that and being overtly emotional and sensitive I strongly get connected with these assorted day-to-day narratives. In reality, we come across people with extreme emotional thresholds. Some are forever servile while others are hostile. According to me, our world is actually grey and I in my limited capacity try to give a glimpse of that through my films. Am ever grateful to my producers and my entire team for believing in my vision and helping me in the process.
ARJUNN LOOKS BACK
My film journey began by making short films, which were a practical training ground for me. My second short film titled The 6th Element did very well in the festival circuit. It was shown at the Cannes Short Film Corner and also got a prestigious NETPAC nomination. That gave me the impetus to write and direct my first feature film.
irect my first feature film. I had written the script of Abyakto a few years ago but I wasn’t really pitching it that actively. I was busy pitching another script instead. As usual, I was facing rejection after rejection. Finally, a friend of mine took me to meet a producer who got emotionally connected with the story and that’s how Abyakto’s journey began.
Abyakto is primarily a poignant tale of a mother and son. It addresses an issue which we generally don’t speak about but which is very pertinent in today’s society. I have always been intrigued by interpersonal relationships and I have always been very close to my family, especially my mother and grandmother. In fact, my childhood memories comprise secret movie outings with my grandmother. I love telling human stories and, coincidentally, both my films Abyakto and Guldasta happen to tell stories centred around women. Maybe my upbringing and way of life get reflected in my scripts.
Abyakto was applauded at various national and international film festivals. It was selected at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), it was a part of Indian Panorama and also in the International Competition Section. Abyakto received the Audience Choice Award at the Indo-German Filmweek in Berlin, and I won the Best Director Award at the Guwahati International Film Festival. It has travelled to London, Germany, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Ireland among other places. Abyakto had a double show in Aurangabad. At Habitat Film Festival in Delhi, Abyakto received a standing ovation from more than 400 viewers. It was so so satisfying, seeing so many people getting emotionally connected with the film. There were moments which made me teary-eyed.