Parambrata Chattopadhyay and Sujoy Ghosh get to the heart of Anukul

  • Published 13.10.17
Parambrata Chattopadhyay and Sujoy Ghosh at Taj Bengal. Pictures: B. Halder

Filmmaker Sujoy Ghosh had wanted to turn Satyajit Ray’s short story Anukul into a film for a long time. It is one of his favourite stories after all. For Parambrata Chattopadhyay, the first read of Anukul happened when he was 12. And he was “absolutely floored”. It took the two another five years after Kahaani to get cracking on Anukul  and get to its heart.

Parambrata plays Anukul, an android who is hired as a house help by Hindi teacher Nikunj Chaturvedi, played by Saurabh Shukla. Touching on themes of loyalty, instinct and duty, the film focuses on the changing relationship between the man and the machine.

t2 brings you the highlights from a media meet at Taj Bengal, where Anukul — presented by Royal Stag Barrel Select Large Short Films — was screened. 

Being Anukul

Parambrata: Initially, I had prepared myself to act like a robot. But Sujoyda told me to play it as humanly as possible. Just that, he told me, there should only be some amount of stillness in the eyes… less blinking.

He was just trying to play against this idea of robots behaving in a certain way. Anukul is very much like a human being. On the one hand that’s a great advancement science has achieved as far as the world of this film is concerned. At the same time for the people who are opposed to the idea of having robots, for them that’s an even bigger menace, because the robots are being made to please the eyes seeking human presence... robots are looking like human beings. Anukul had to be very much like a human being. I had to strike a balance between being slightly robotic and being a normal, obedient and sweet human being.

Timeless piece

Sujoy: Anukul is a responsibility. I have been wanting to make this for a long time. It is one of my fave stories. It is a timeless piece of work. It raises so many questions.

Parambrata: Why would somebody choose a story like Anukul? What does it try to say? What is there at the core of the story? It is so eternal and universal and is so relevant in every single age that mankind has passed through.  

Anukul in Hindi

Sujoy: I wanted the story to go beyond Calcutta. You get a larger audience across India. Also the story is universal. I have been trying to do this film for the last eight-nine years.

Kahaani connect

Parambrata: Our journey started with Kahaani. And we are back together... finally it happened with Anukul.

What more can I ask for? I’ve been working in films for 15-16 years now, and there have been experiences in my life which will always remain special. Kahaani would definitely top that list. And this is Satyajit Ray, Anukul, Sujoy Ghosh… this was too good.

Takeaway from Anukul

Parambrata: Will there be a day when machines have a heart?

The short story

Parambrata: I have seen some fantastic short films made by some of the biggest filmmakers in the world. Hotel Chevalier by Wes Anderson was absolutely brilliant.

Sujoy: Short films are more story-based than director-based. When I am looking at a short film I am more into the story than a director. Only after I see a short film, and I really like it, that I find out about the director.