'Inspired by Parash Pathar'

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By Kushali Nag What did you like/dislike about Shukno Lanka? Tell t2@abpmail.com
  • Published 5.07.10
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Director Gaurav Pandey goes behind the scenes of Shukno Lanka to trace his inspiration. A t2 chat...

The film industry as shown in Shukno Lanka comes quite close to real life. Are these real-life experiences?

No, it is realistic but not real. For homework, I read books on Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen, and spent hours chatting with actor Chinmoy Roy. There is a lot that I have imbibed from him, which resurfaced in Shukno Lanka. I think cinema is hyper-real and in that hyper-real world I have put in real people with a past, people with ambitions and desires.

A large part of the film shows Tollygunge’s studio para...

This comes from my love for Calcutta. Indrapuri Studios, which appears in the film so many times, is the cornerstone of cinema in Calcutta. My obsession with Indrapuri Studios began from the knowledge that Satyajitbabu (Ray) made a lot of his films there. I tried to think of him while making the film since I had no other reference points otherwise.

What was the inspiration behind the plot of a junior artiste bagging the lead role in a critically acclaimed filmmaker’s project?

My film is inspired by Satyajit Ray’s Parash Pathar and that’s why I have named the film-within-the-film Parash Pathar. He (Ray) created characters like Paresh Chandra Dutta (played by Tulsi Chakravarty) in Parash Pathar, and the ones in Pather Panchali. Do we ever think of making a film on them?

I would often think about Tulsi Chakravarty. You may have noticed that I have made Chinu Nandi a resident of Howrah. Tulsibabu used to live in Howrah. I found that very interesting. There are no trams from Howrah to Tollygunge now but Tulsibabu would take a tram to reach the Tollygunge studios. So I made it a point that Chinu should also take a tram to the studios.

Is Joy Sundar (the director played by Sabyasachi Chakraborty) a reflection of you?

Well, my wife says so! Art is created out of fear of death. It is your only passport to immortality. Like the protagonist of Joy Sundar’s film, Joy Sundar too is carrying the load of an invisible death on his shoulders and that’s why he chooses a morbid subject. Maybe Joy Sundar is a little bit of me but I would never make a film like Joy Sundar’s Parash Pathar. I want my characters to live happy lives.

Is the filmstar Tublai (played by the late Kunal Mitra) based on a Tolly star we know?

Yes. All over the world heroes are the same. Stars, like the ones played by Kunal and Shaheb, are everywhere.

The sequence where Joy Sundar and Isabella (Emma Brown Garrett) meet supposedly in Berlin looks more like Calcutta...

Yes, those are CG (computer graphics) shots taken in Calcutta. I have taken that creative liberty. Berlin does not look like that during the Berlin film festival. I wanted to capture the Berlin summer.

The Asha jaowa track is played a number of times, leaving no room for silence. Why?

There’s a reason behind it. The format of the film is very difficult. I have constantly played with time and space. The film constantly travels back and forth, following a non-linear storytelling, so the only thing that binds the sequences is the music. The film begins in Berlin, which is the past, and ends with Chinu standing under a billboard of his film, which is the future.

The only prop that makes you aware of the passage of time are Chinu’s glasses. He didn’t wear them in the past while he does in the future. So I wanted to balance the format with music and songs follow one another without any break. Otherwise it would have been a very difficult film to absorb. Also, I wanted to reach out to people. With this format, Shukno Lanka would have fallen in the art film bracket and I did not want to make an art film.