Muktodhara 2

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By Shiboprosad Mkhopadhyay on why Muktodhara will make us sit up and take notice Kushali nag Why will you watch Muktodhara? tell
  • Published 3.08.12

Muktodhara, which releases on Friday, is based on danseuse Alokananda Roy’s dance therapy work with jail inmates. What prompted you to take up such an unusual subject ?

Nanditadi (Roy, co-director) and I had watched Balmiki Pratibha during one of our trips to Santiniketan. We were so overwhelmed by the stage production that we decided to make a film on jail inmates. We met Alokanandadi and then I visited Presidency jail, took permission to research there for about three months and then both of us worked on the script. That’s how it happened.

This is a dramatic departure from Ichche, which was a relationship tale.

Yes, but both Nanditadi and I were very sure that we would do something completely different from Ichche. We didn’t want to make another film like Ichche. Muktodhara will make people wonder how the makers of Ichche could make such a different film! Working with jail inmates, casting Nigel Akkara, doing the rounds of jails... it’s been one hell of an experience and we are happy with the way the film has shaped up. The promos have generated interest and Rituparna (Sengupta) will be seen in a very different avatar after a long time.

Was Rituparna your first choice to play the Alokananda-inspired character?

Yes, and what a performance! Nobody has been able to tap Ritu’s potential yet. She herself isn’t aware of what she is capable of. This is her best performance ever. Sounds like I’m exaggerating but I’m sure the audience will agree with me.

Tell us about the film...

Muktodhara is about Niharika (Rituparna) who lives with her husband, a criminal lawyer (Bratya Basu), and her deaf-mute daughter Spriha (Suchitra Chakravarty). A chance meeting with a jail official (Debshankar Halder) puts her on a completely different path. She goes to the jail to conduct a workshop with the inmates, where she meets Yusuf (Nigel), a convict who everyone is scared of. From then on, it’s Niharika’s fight against all odds, both on the domestic front and with the inmates. In the process, she evolves as a woman. It’s basically her journey. Bratyada too is so good.

Was it difficult to cast an ex-convict?

No, not at all... and Nigel is such a powerhouse of talent. He gelled so well with the character. I’m very satisfied working with him. I hope he gets the opportunity to act in other films now.

Do you think Muktodhara will match up to the success of Ichche?

Ichche had many technical flaws. It was our first film... and the story wasn’t as layered as Muktodhara. Ichche was primarily a mother-son story and we had mostly indoor shots. Eighty per cent of Muktodhara has been shot outdoors. Besides, we’ve worked with an ensemble cast here, something we have not done before.

What’s next for you?

Next, we will shoot Aleek Sukh, starring Saswata Chatterjee, Rituparna Sengupta and Sohini Sengupta. Saswata and Rituparna play husband and wife; Sohini plays a patient. Saswata is a doctor who treats Sohini and then a mishap occurs and that changes the course of Ritu and Saswata’s lives. It’s a psychological thriller and very different from Ichche and Muktodhra.