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Ghare & Baire is a love story knee-deep in romantic comedy in a Bangaliana set-up — writes Mainak Bhaumik  

Koel and Jisshu in Ghare & Baire, which releases in March
 

In a day and age where the world runs on instant coffee, Instagram and instant gratification, I feel that the idea of the ideal couple, that is, one that will surpass the instant and last long term is more “friends first, couple later”, which is how I went about forming Koel and Jisshu’s chemistry in Ghare & Baire, which is about friends first who obviously can be lovers as well. 
Labanya is a no-nonsense girl. Amit is the typical worried and overstressed boy. And Labanya and Amit are best friends and perhaps a little more than that. 

Ready, please

I always imagined Labanya as a headstrong, intelligent woman who presents herself as a calm, peace loving person who carries her weight and burdens on her shoulders, hiding her anger and inner demons. Koel to me seemed like the perfect Labanya to bring out the essence of a Bengali romcom. She has all that it takes to fit into one. She’s bright, pretty, hyper intelligent and can keep her calm in tricky situations, such as the disasters one has to go through while shooting. Koel is a delight to work with. 

I was a little scared as my work environment is a very chilled-out urban set-up where we have fun and make the movie in that spirit. I was sceptical because I didn’t know what it would be like to work with someone who has reigned over a decade in commercial cinema as the leading lady. Her movies were huge in scale. I make movies where people walk and talk around my south Calcutta para. But it turned out to be a relief. She, I guess, was tailor-made for my set. 
Koel is chilled-out, is on time and knows the film as well as I do and has a dedication for her craft that I learnt a lot from. Trust me, it helps. She might be a very different person from my Labanya. But she brought on everything quite effortlessly to make Labanya a flesh-and-blood character. 

She does have one similarity with Labanya when it comes to hiding her irritation over mess-ups. Koel saying ‘Ready please’ softly means, ‘Shoot now’. And invariably it takes 10 minutes and you hear a slightly more polite but louder, ‘Ready please’.

Bengali Ashton

To me Amit is a Bengali version of Ashton Kutcher. He’s tall, he’s cute, he has confidence yet his neurotic self can bring on board a barrage of humour into the film. Amit is the typical protagonist for a romcom. Someone romantic who has the ability to be funny and can also be heroic when the occasion arises. 

From the day I wrote the script, I couldn’t think beyond Jisshu and I didn’t want to. I remember when we settled on doing the film, we were planning to shoot in June and Jisshu didn’t have dates till November. Now as the film is over and ready to release, of course I’m glad I waited. Eleven years was worth the wait. Jisshu has changed a lot since Aamra. He might be the little boy trapped in a man’s body but over the years he definitely has grown by leaps and bounds as an actor. 

I’ve always believed Jisshu is an instinctive actor who has a definite intuition working for him, but as I did this film I realised he has more confidence and grasp over his craft. Also, during Aamra, Jisshu and Nilanjanaa were working on getting into television as producers and today they have a successful company. So it’s a lot of fun to work with an actor who can help you in dire situations where the sun is dropping and he’ll just say, ‘Duto shot ne, third ta lagbe na’. He has a good grip over the filmmaking medium. But the restless Jisshu from Aamra has become much more calm.

Bengali romcom

For years I’ve been a diehard fan of Hollywood and Hollywood romcoms since I can remember. When I say romcoms, I mean romantic comedy films where a love story goes through hurdles in a comic and dramatic form to achieve a romantic end. I’m a sucker for love stories, be it Sleepless in Seattle, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge or Saptapadi .
Ghare & Baire is my first attempt at reviving the idea of a Bengali romcom, a love story which is knee-deep in romantic comedy, emotion and humour splurged with a Bangaliana set-up in an urban milieu.

Down and dirty

The garage shots were fun. Getting Koel, known to be the reigning queen of Bengali commercial cinema for the last decade or more, to get down and dirty under a car and turn her into a bit of a tomboy was thrilling. And getting Jisshu into the mindset of the sweetheart kyalane mixed with my Woody Allen neurotic sensibilities, transformed him into my idea of the perfect leading man — a guy who knows exactly what he wants but struggles to overcome his idiosyncratic limitations that make him his own biggest hurdle to his happy ending.

FIRST LOOK

When thinking of the fairy tale quality of romcoms, I envisioned Ghare & Baire as a roopkawtha 
romcom. The word roopkawtha, for me, brings to mind the simple book illustrations of Thakurmar Jhuli that we grew up reading. That’s when I decided to use the illustration form to highlight the timeless theme behind any love story in Bengal that would be incomplete without the romantic shakha-pola — the shell and coral bangles, an age-old mark of a bride, while placing the characters in today’s time — Mainak
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