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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 16 April 2024

Filmmakers Nandita Roy and Shiboprosad Mukherjee speaks about their debut Hindi film Shastry Virudh Shastry and the success of Raktabeej

Nandita and Shiboprosad's debut Hindi film Shastry Virudh Shastry, a remake of Posto, is set to hit theatres today

Arindam Chatterjee Published 03.11.23, 08:49 AM
A moment from Shastry Virudh Shastry, which releases today in theatres 

A moment from Shastry Virudh Shastry, which releases today in theatres 

The blockbuster film Posto, directed by Nandita Roy and Shiboprosad Mukherjee, explored various modes of parenting, in 2017. One of the main talking points of Posto revolved around a grandfather filing a case against his son for the custody of the grandchild. The film was one of the biggest hits of the director duo. Nandita and Shiboprosad's debut Hindi film Shastry Virudh Shastry, a remake of Posto, is set to hit theatres today...

What is the genesis of Shastry Virudh Shastry?

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Nandita: Our film Posto was released in 2017, and after that, the Hindi film rights were sold. Initially, the idea was to cast Rishi Kapoor. Once the script was ready, we met him.
Shiboprosad: Later the film was revived once again. Initially, in the post-Covid era, we were under the impression that the film would directly go to OTT. There was uncertainty surrounding the release of all kinds of films. Once the film was made, it was decided that the film would be released in the theatres.

Is the storyline the same?

Nandita: Yes, but it is set in Panchgani. The message of the film is that a child needs the love, affection and care of parents and grandparents. It is about bonding and the growth of the child.
Shiboprosad: After watching Posto, the audience was divided. One section supported the parents while the other supported the grandparents. In a modern family, the working parents get so busy that they sometimes cannot devote quality time to the child. Similarly, the grandparents miss the company of the kids. The main message is that all of them can live together and spend quality time together. It is also about quality time and quantity time.

Do you want to direct more Hindi films?

Shiboprosad: The market has changed drastically post-Covid. A Tamil, Malayalam or Bengali film has its own audience nationally. The only factor is the budget. If I make a Hindi film, the market size is bigger, which is why I get a bigger budget. With Shastry Virudh Shastry, we got to work with some amazing actors and technicians. From Paresh Rawal to Amruta Subhash, everyone was amazing. I would always notice how they approached a scene. Mimi Chakraborty is wonderful in the film, she has really matured as an actress. My work with DoP Sanu Varughese helped me to visualise my Bengali films. It has brought a certain visual design to Raktabeej too.

Is the staging of the scene different in Shastry Virudh Shastry?

Nandita: The mise-en-scene is different. The content is the same. The shooting and staging are different. It was the first time we directed a film in sync sound in real locations. The actors elevated the scenes. Sync sound captures the raw emotion of the actors.

Congratulations on the success of Raktabeej. How's the feedback from the audience?

Nandita: The response is overwhelming. The film has connected on every level. The film has drama, suspense, emotion, thrill and action, and the story and performances have resonated with the people. They are saying that the Durga Puja portrayed in the film and the events that unfold around it have been shown in a new light.

Shiboprosad: Raktabeej has notched up Rs 4.38 crores in 14 days. The climax has become the turning point. Everyone is going ga-ga over it. Some have said they have not seen a climax like this in Bengali cinema before. The audience and people from the industry have lauded the casting choices. The audience has really enjoyed the big-screen experience. The script really, really helped. There were 38 drafts. Zinia Sen started writing the script in 2020 (story by Nandita Roy, Shiboprosad Mukherjee and Zinia Sen). Initially, the film was called Mr. President. But then we decided to go ahead with the name Raktabeej.

As directors, we followed the script to the T. The script was our textbook. Zinia and Sarbari Ghoshal wrote the screenplay and dialogues. For our research work, we met the authorities and personnel so that we got every detail right, from VIP security to bomb disposal squad officials. We met officers who were part of the investigation process of the blast (the film is based on the Burdwan blast of 2014). On October 2, 2014, an explosion took place in a two-storeyed building in the Khagragarh locality of Burdwan.

Also, we met officers who briefed us about how they interrogate suspects. The way Abir Chatterjee and Mimi's characters operated was very authentic. The research work took a lot of time.

How many times did you visit the locations before the shoot?

Shiboprosad: At least seven times. We recorded the movement of the goat (a crucial plot point in the climax). Initially, we had started developing the story as a series for an OTT platform. The structure was really vast then. When we decided to make it into a film, Didi and I pitched in with our inputs regarding the structure of the film. We also wanted to focus on the bond between the brother and sister.

You directed a thriller for the first time. From creating suspense and chase scenes to having a dramatic entry for your lead characters to designing the innovative climax sequence, what were the main challenges?

Nandita: We had to keep a budget in mind since we were making a Bengali film. Shooting an action scene takes a lot of time. So one had to keep a lot of things in mind while scheduling action scenes. The most important part was to balance the action with the drama.
Shiboprosad: We pulled off the action sequences smoothly. We shot the film in real locations. We were surrounded by hundreds of people while we were shooting in Koley Market. The climax had 1,500 people and the crowd were there for three days.

Shiboprosad Mukherjee and Nandita Roy

Shiboprosad Mukherjee and Nandita Roy

How long did it take to shoot the climax sequence?

Shiboprosad: It took us four days. It took us two-and-a-half days to shoot the movement of the goats. Our action director said, 'Their movement is really unpredictable'. The goat is used as a leitmotif in Tagore's Bishorjon. And in Raktabeej, too, the importance of the goat is very crucial to the story.

Interestingly, in Raktabeej, it happens on Dashami...

Shiboprosad: Right. It is kind of a full circle. I don't want to give away too much here (smiles).

Since the film is also a whodunit, were you worried that the reveal in the end might get exposed in online comments?

Shiboprosad: But we also focused on how it happens. The challenge was to build the grandeur in the climax in such a way that hooks the audience and takes them by surprise. It was the cherry on the cake. Various story threads came together in the climax. Leading up to the finale, the story raises questions and keeps the audience guessing and the climax solves each question and answers them gradually.

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