Param the fighter
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- Published 5.02.14
In between shooting for Srijit Mukherji’s Chotushkone, Parambrata Chattopadhyay spoke to t2 about directing his third film Lorai, and more.
For a good part of 2013 you were shooting in Mumbai and Calcutta. Where did you find the time to script Lorai?
I had started writing this script in April when I had gone to the hills to shoot for High-Way. Then it was lying unfinished for quite sometime. When someone listens to the story and says it’s nice, only then do I take up the pen to write the script. I BBM-ed Bumbada (Prosenjit), we met the next day, I told him the story and he said ‘I am doing it, when can you write me the script’? Tarpor I went to Bombay for a month. I finished it there.
You’ve been planning a film with Prosenjit since 2011. What took you so long?
I had read out a screenplay to him, not Lorai but some other story which he had really liked back then. The problem was, somebody told me that the idea was very similar to Talaash. Talaash hadn’t released at that time but I got to hear it from a very reliable source and I scrapped the idea. I told Bumbada about it but he kept saying ‘Dhur kor to tui’... But I had doubts. I went and saw Talaash the second day after it released and realised that it was completely different from my idea. But by then I had finished about 80 per cent of the Lorai script. But I felt like doing this with Bumbada more because the appeal of the last script was more to the brain, whereas the appeal of this one is more to the heart. And I wanted to do a film which appeals to the heart more than the brain.
What can you tell us about Lorai?
It’s about three things. On the one hand it’s about a failed man, a middle-aged man who has failed professionally, personally.... How he redeems himself is what Lorai is about. At the same time it’s also about how in an absolutely destitute village in one remote corner of Bengal lives a band of villagers who redeem themselves or rather rediscover themselves through a sport. And thirdly, it’s also about football which despite being the most popular game in the universe, in our country is looked upon as a second-class citizen. It is not looked upon with as much importance or as much credibility as cricket.
It’s about these three marginalised existences, identities — a man who was a yesteryear star footballer and had to retire untimely, he is in his early 50s and a drunkard. He gets redeemed through training these band of villagers who rejuvenate themselves through football.
Sounds like a mash-up of Chak De! India and Lagaan!
Lagaan, I would disagree. Chak De, I would say yes! Chak De! India, I really liked. All sports film, all across the world, have the same pattern. If you think of say Moneyball or Escape to Victory...
So your inspiration are such sports films?
My inspiration is a mix of a lot of things. It’s a sort of tribute to all sorts of films which deal with bigger political scenarios through sport, like Escape to Victory. My film keeps football in the backdrop and speaks about society, our responsibility towards society, speaks about the realities which are beyond the realities of our South City Mall and INOX. It deals with the reality which is far, far beyond.
Your last film Hawa Bodol was a lot like Change-up...
See, every single film has a reference point from some other film. If Hawa Bodol is Change-up then 22shey Srabon is Righteous Kill (2008). Purely original work doesn’t exist at the moment. Especially with Lorai, it is a template that I am taking but I will fill in my own text. The signature is mine. No director can ever say that he has made a film without any reference point. But the accusation against Hawa Bodol was that it was a rip-off, which I strongly object to.
Has Prosenjit watched Hawa Bodol?
Yes, he has seen Jiyo Kaka!! too. He really liked it and had even called me to say how much he enjoyed the film.
Did Prosenjit make any changes to the script of Lorai?
No, not a single scratch. He had given me two suggestions after hearing the story. Both were of great use to me. But after he listened to the script he did not scrap even a single line. I was a little apprehensive because I had never written dialogues before.... He was very encouraging. Also this is the first time I kind of wrote a whole script on my own. Although Paddanavada (Dasgupta, co-writer) is there. So it’s a great feeling to type a script and put end scrolls!
Prosenjit apart, who else is there in Lorai?
Arjun Chakrabarty, Payel, Kharaj Mukherjee, Kanchan Mallick and a host of young theatre actors. We will start shooting from March.
Back in Bombay, you shot for three films — Gangs of Ghosts, Traffic and Yara Sili Sili . How was the experience?
It was nice. Things are on a much bigger scale. I enjoy it there but only for a limited period of time. I have a whale of a time till about 15 days and then I start missing Calcutta. I have never really been after money, the excitement to work is more important. I think exciting work is happening here, to be honest. I mean Irrfan Khan is doing a lot of exciting work there but I cannot even dream of becoming the Irrfan Khan of Bombay.
So for me, for our level of actors, exciting work is happening here because here I am an actor who people look up to, and secondly our industry has become like a family, we fight, we crib.... I told Srijit a lot of things after watching Mishawr Rawhoshyo but see, I am there in his film (Chotushkone, where Param plays one of the lead characters with Aparna Sen, Goutam Ghose and Chiranjit) again.
At the end of the the day, it’s a small industry with a big family. Like here, in between shoots, we all snuggle up inside the quilt during the lunch break and gossip over oranges! Bombay-tey this is what I missed. I would wait to come back. Plus, my mother has not been keeping well for the last six months.
Work-wise I have gone through a fantastic year, on a personal level I had a very torrid time, nightmarish almost. So I don’t feel like staying away from Calcutta. But I really enjoyed doing Traffic, it has shaped up very well. Gang of Ghosts, I really enjoyed, Yara Sili Sili, yeah Paoli and I did enjoy. I don’t see why there should be a hoopla around working in Bombay. Not that I am trying to make it big in Bombay either.
You and Swastika (Mukherjee) are pairing up after five years in Glamour...
Yes. After five years (smiles). It’s directed by Mahua Roy. She had approached me in 2012 and I was kind of pushing it away. But when I heard the script I loved it. So I said yes.
Ike and you are still maintaining your long-distance relationship?
Oh yes, yes, touchwood.