'It's cerebral, not emotional'

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By Rituparno Ghosh on Shob Charitra Kalponik releasing without Bipasha Basu taking part in its promotion. Reshmi Sengupta
  • Published 28.07.09

More than a year after its making, Rituparno Ghosh’s Shob Charitra Kalponik, which is also Bipasha Basu’s maiden Bengali film co-starring Prosenjit and Jisshu Sengupta, is releasing on August 28 following a world premiere in Durban.

A t2 chat with Rituparno...

Shob Charitra Kalponik is having a world premiere at the Durban Film Festival...

Yes, I have never showcased my work at the Durban festival before. But it’s a niche festival and since this is the world premiere of Shob Charitra Kalponik, the producers, Reliance Big Pictures, were very keen that the director accompanied the film. Shob Charitra will go to other festivals as well.

Why have the producers taken more than a year to release Shob Charitra?

There wasn’t any problem. Reliance wanted Shob Charitra to premiere at a foreign film festival and then release in the country. Shob Charitra is a festival film. It is very cerebral, quite unlike the emotional drama people expect from me.... Abohoman is also in queue. It’s going to have a world premiere at the Montreal Film Festival before being released in November.... Besides, the recession also played a factor as Reliance had to rethink their production, distribution and marketing plans.

How different is Shob Charitra Kalponik from your other films?

Shob Charitra is the story of an NRB girl who comes to know her poet husband better after his death, through his Bengali poetry. All her life, she has cribbed about her irresponsible husband. Since the content is very different from my other films, the treatment is very different too. I can’t draw a parallel between Shob Charitra and any of my other films. In Shob Charitra, I have experimented with the language of cinema, which I have never done before. It may seem to be an arty film but people can’t expect a filmmaker to restrict himself to only one kind of films.

Has Bipasha Basu finally dubbed for herself?

No, she didn’t. I think the producers have informed her of the film’s release.... And there’s no time now to do her dubbing. So, the film is releasing with Sohini’s (Sengupta) voice (as Bipasha’s). It would have been better if Bipasha could dub her part. Because though Sohini had done the dubbing with a lot of care, it was not meant to be the final version. Bipasha said that she wouldn’t take part in promoting the film if she doesn’t get to do her own dubbing.

But is Sohini’s voice matching Bipasha’s?

See, I think it’s not necessary for the dubbing artiste’s voice to be an exact match of the actor’s. It’s far more important to ensure that the voice is matching the character on screen. I had got Sabyasachi Chakraborty to dub for Chiranjit in Bariwali, and everybody could make that out. Rinadi (Aparna Sen) later told me that I had got a famous person to dub for another famous person. So, in Antarmahal, Shantilal (Mukherjee) dubbed for Jackie Shroff, and abroad many people thought it was Jackie’s voice…. Sohini speaks English and Bengali with equal ease and I don’t think her voice is unsuitable as Bipasha’s character, Manisha.

Won’t Bipasha’s staying away from the film’s promotion affect the movie?

No, I don’t think so. Because though Prosenjit and Bipasha are the main players here, there is no intense drama between them in the film. I feel people would enjoy the film more had Irrfan (Khan) and Konkona (Sensharma) played the parts. People had similar expectations from Prosenjit and Aishwarya (Rai) in Chokher Bali.... Besides, Aishwarya didn’t come down to promote Chokher Bali, neither did Abhishek (Bachchan) for Antarmahal. Did it stop people from watching the films?

The producers of Shob

Charitra Kalponik on why it is releasing after more than a year...

There are two reasons for the delay. First, it was very important for us to take Shob Charitra Kalponik to a major film festival before its local release. It gives you a lot of recognition. There are 2,500 festivals and doing the festival circuit is an 18-month cycle. That’s why the delay. It’s the same with Rituparno’s Abohoman and Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s Janala, which are coming up next.

There’s a tradition of Bengali films showcasing at international festivals and being appreciated, and we want to keep the flame alive. Most often, the major foreign film festivals refuse to show your film if it has already been released locally. In Durban, Rituparno will be rubbing shoulders with the likes of Woody Allen, Steven Soderbergh and Michael Winterbottom.

Second, critical acclaim at the festivals translate into business success for us. It opens up the overseas distribution market. The films get picked up by home video channels, theatrical chains and open other avenues.

We are also planning a national release with English subtitles in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore.

Mahesh Ramanathan,
COO, Reliance Big Pictures