Only the lonely

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  • Published 29.08.09

Riding high on rave reviews for Angshumaner Chhobi, director Atanu Ghosh tells t2 the backstory of his debut feature film...

How did you come up with the idea of having a gigolo in Angshumaner Chhobi?

Angshumaner Chhobi is about three social recluses — Pradyut (Soumitra Chatterjee), Madhura (Indrani Halder) and Neel (Tota Roy Chowdhury). In order to establish this trait, I had to put the characters in professions where they could easily be reclusive. Pradyut and Madhura are artistes; for Neel I had to choose an unconventional profession. So a gigolo, whose profession itself makes him a socially lonely character. Besides, the film’s central character Madhura had to be scandalised and so the relationship between an actress and a gigolo! While writing the script, I started reading up on gigolos on the Internet and I managed to meet two of them. I learnt a little about their lifestyle which I incorporated in Tota’s character.

Did Tota have to wear a wig in order to play a gigolo?

I wanted to change Tota’s look. All actors have an identity and the character he portrays clashes with that identity. I had two options — take a fresh face or change the appearance of an actor. I chose Tota because I wanted a dependable actor in the role.

Is Madhura modelled after any actress you know?

Atanu Ghosh

No, but I have seen many ‘one-film wonders’. There are actresses who become commercially successful with their first film and there are actresses who get critical acclaim with their first film. While the first group easily gets more offers, the second group is left with two options — wait for sensible roles or take up whatever comes their way. Madhura, who had won a National Award for her first film, goes in for the second option. She fails to gauge her potential and enters jatra. I haven’t come across anyone exactly like Madhura but I have seen such traits in some actresses.

Were expletives necessary in Madhura’s dialogues?

I didn’t have any other tool to express her frustration. It is important to note where and when Madhura uses expletive. The first time is when Neel mentions her National Award. The second is when Angshuman (Indraneil Sengupta) offers her a film with Pradyut, as she feels she is being ridiculed.... The Censor Board too felt those words (son of a bitch, f***) were necessary. The film got a U/A certificate.

Why did you opt for dim lights and a dull colour tone?

Because Angshumaner Chhobi is a psychological drama and there’s a film within the film. I have treated every scene as an item; it’s a form of experimental editing. But the film within the film has a gloomy look. Angshumaner Chhobi is a film about three generations, so every character has a colour tone to create a particular mood.