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Director Bratya Basu on the Friday Film Hubba, a Gangster thriller

Billed as a gangster thriller, his latest directorial venture Hubba is based on the true story of Shyamal Das alias Hubba

Piya Roy Published 18.01.24, 11:49 AM
Mosharraf Karim with Bratya Basu on location during the shooting of Hubba. The film releases on January 19.

Mosharraf Karim with Bratya Basu on location during the shooting of Hubba. The film releases on January 19.

The works of film and theatre personality Bratya Basu have always been distinguished by their social and political consciousness. Billed as a gangster thriller, his latest directorial venture Hubba is based on the true story of Shyamal Das alias Hubba, a notorious criminal who operated in the industrial belts of Howrah and Hooghly since the ‘90s. The Telegraph chat with Basu on Hubba, on the eve of the release of the film.

What kind of response to Hubba’s trailer have you received so far?


Over 12 lakh people, consisting of viewers in Bengal and Bangladesh, have watched the trailer already. As you probably know, the film is being simultaneously released across the border as well. In fact, both the teaser and the trailer have generated immense impact. People are already talking about it and they have said that they liked it. I believe that if they watch the film, they will love it also.

Why did you decide to make this film and why do you think the audience needs to know Hubba’s story?

I first came to know Hubba’s story from a book I read. I immediately felt that it had in it the elements of a commercial movie and that people would like it if this story was made into a film. I have tried to explore these elements through my film with whatever little understanding I have of commercial cinema, and I am confident that the subject matter of the film will appeal to the audience greatly.

What kind of research did you need to undertake to make this film?

We had to do extensive research before we started work on the film itself. I was greatly helped in my task by a senior IPS officer, who also happens to be my junior from my college days and is also a good friend. He has not only helped with research but also helped to add realism in the way cops are portrayed in this film. Without his cooperation, this film would not have been possible. Though the script and screenplay are written by me, he also helped me to write dialogues for the film.

What sort of creative or practical limitations did you face when making a film based on a true character and events, especially one that deals with the dark side of society?

The basic challenge was that we had to shoot outdoors, in the streets and alleys in a congested area like Hooghly, from where Hubba operated his crime ring. We did not shoot any of those scenes in a set or studio. As we stuck to the script very closely, we had to shoot in places like dark and narrow bylanes, dingy slums, by the banks of the Ganga, a crematorium, a factory, by the railway tracks and so on. To shoot in real locations was difficult, as we had to contend with the weather, the public, traffic and many other problems. So, we ended up taking double the time usually taken by any Bengali movie to complete its shooting. However, in spite of everything, I must express my gratitude to my producer and Friends Communications for giving me the opportunity to make this film.

What made you select Mosharraf Karim as the main antagonist?

Well, firstly because he is a brilliant actor. While working with him in Dictionary (2021), I had already decided that I would also cast him in my next. I have seen very few actors whose acting is multi-layered and yet so subtle. He is also a very composed and disciplined actor. In fact, both he and Indraneil (Sengupta) showed great discipline while working on this film and I admired that a lot.

How would you describe your experience of working with Indraneil Sengupta as the cop and Loknath Dey, who played the other main criminal character?

Outstanding. This was the first time that we have worked together. Indraneil was roped in on this film as a replacement; so he was not my initial choice for the role of the cop. But I was really pleased with the way he has handled the role. I think from now on he will be my obvious choice whenever I need a character on any future project, with his kind of look and figure.

As for Loknath, he has worked under my direction in theatre productions. I have been a fan of his acting for a long time. Apart from him, theatre actors like Gambhira, Anujoy, Ashok, Sumit, Buddho, Joy, Jinia, Sandipan, Chandranath and so many others have done a commendable job in this film. I have always used theatre actors in my film projects and I think they deserve exposure in other Tollywood productions as well.

A gangster flick, Hubba is full of raw, violent scenes. How did you plan these scenes with your fight specialist? Did you offer any suggestions on how to visualise them?

Yes, I would decide and design the particular action scene and the fight director Rajesh Kannan would have them executed. The initial input was always given by me, mainly through illustrations and graphics which I would then explain verbally. Then Rajesh would work on it with the crew and finalise how the shot would be acted out before the camera. We have tried to do it very methodically and realistically. However, we have also shot some fight and action sequences that were totally improvised during shooting.

What do you think will be the audience’s key takeaway from this film?

I just want this film to entertain the audience. I can also say that they will enjoy it greatly as I am convinced that it contains enough ingredients for their entertainment. Besides crime and violence, there is also comedy in this film, and this mix of many elements makes it more interesting.

What are the upcoming screen projects that the audience can hope to see you in this year, both as actor and director?

I have acted in a movie called Once Upon a Time in Calcutta by Aditya Vikram Sengupta. That is going to be released soon. Those who have already seen it have given it a favourable feedback, so I am also waiting to see it. Talks are on about another film where I will be seen as an actor. Apart from that, I have started working on a new movie script, but it is in a nascent stage still.

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