Srijato Bandyopadhyay, who is widely known as a Bengali poet and is a familiar name in the Bengali film industry as a lyricist, is all set to make his debut as a film-maker. Before donning his new hat, he gives The Telegraph a peek into his upcoming directorial venture Manabjamin....
You have been associated with films for many years now in various roles. How and why did the idea of direction come to you?
I had a desire to make films much before I started writing songs for films. I have been writing songs for my friends’ films for the past 10-11 years, which made me come so far but I started watching films in 1999-2000 in an appreciation course from Nandan. At that time I used to watch films that could change people’s thought processes and I felt that the language of cinema has a huge power to connect with people. I thought of using the medium of films to say something of my own. After so many years I was able to communicate this desire to someone and it is getting fulfilled. But this desire is almost 21-22 years old.
What is the genesis of the storyline?
The storyline is a thought that came to me two or two-and-a-half years ago. It is based on a relationship tale and various people associated with it. All I can say is that the people I am trying to talk about in this story, I have seen them very closely and since I have observed them closely I know what they go through. I thought, why not make a film for these people. So it all started from there, and stories about such people are not told often in films.
Why this title?
It is taken from Ramprasad Sen’s song and we have kept that song in the film too, which Arijit will sing for me (Emon manabjamin roilo potit). The way this song also became a part of the script, I thought, considering the people I am talking about, Manabjamin would be the most suitable name for the film.
How will your poetic self-influence the film-maker?
There is an intense relationship between poetry and this film. Of course in certain places in the film, I will try to talk about poetry in my way as much as the film will allow it. Just because I write poetry it is not that it has to be there; a film is a film. But yes, poetry will be there. Without poetry, making a film for me would be difficult.
(L-R) Parambrata Chattopadhyay & Priyanka Sarkar Sourced by the correspondent
Tell us about the cast...
Param (Parambrata Chattopadhyay) is a favourite actor of mine and there is great adaptability in him. He can portray any character beautifully. I have known Param for so long, he has a sense of cinema since he makes films himself and has been watching films for so long. I knew that Param is going to see this script from a different perspective and become a part of it, which is why I wanted him. He is already into it. He is giving inputs and sharing his thoughts, which I really like.
And without Paranda (Paran Bandyopadhyay) this film would not have been possible considering the character I have thought of. He is another person, other than Param, who would be seen widely throughout the film. The character I have given him resembles Paranda typically, the way he looks, how he talks... the character is just like that. While developing the script I thought of Priyanka (Sarkar) as I think she is a very powerful actor but has not been utilised well. I think Priyanka will get a place to prove herself in this film. I feel she has certain acting shades that she is yet to show people. Srijit (Mukherji) is doing a cameo, a guest appearance but it is a fun and interesting role. He agreed to be a part of it as soon as I told him. He is very keen on it and is calling from Bombay often to find out how far the script is ready.
How was the process of getting a producer for your debut film?
Rana Sarkar and his company are producing the film. He is coming up with a bunch of new films. The moment I told him the story he really liked it and asked me to develop it. I never thought that he would want to do the film so soon. He is doing the film with much enthusiasm, which is a good thing for me as it is my debut, so the producer’s enthusiasm is definitely encouraging.
It was a surprise for me too. Rana had given a post on Facebook that he is looking for new concepts from new directors and I just wrote a comment there jokingly as I have known him for a long time. He called me up without commenting on the post and asked if I really had any concept that I could send. I had a concept but didn’t have the script. I had sent him the concept note and he immediately agreed to work on this film, he liked the idea. That’s how it happened.
How are you preparing yourself as a first-time director?
I think in any craft what is most important is what I want to show people, I should be able to visualise it first. What I am trying to do now day and night is trying to picture the film in my mind just the way I want to show it to my audience. The advantage is there are a lot of people working in a film, so people from every department are trying to help me with their experiences. I need to picture the film in my mind again, if I get to see it clearly I will be able to show it to my audience the way I want to. I am trying to spend time on the story, developing the script... and I am also walking a lot inside the home and on the road because in these two years this habit is almost gone. (Laughs) My producer friends told me that I will have to toil a lot so I should be prepared. So trying to get rid of my laziness and walking and trying to stay as mobile as possible.
What are the challenges you are facing as a first-time director?
Till now I would say none. After working for so long in the industry I have been able to build a good relationship with people in the industry, everyone is reaching out and trying to help me. Be it Param, Priyanka, Paranda or the producer or Joy (Sarkar), my friend who is doing the music or Arijit (Singh) or Shreya (Ghoshal) who agreed to sing after asking them just once, that is a big thing for me as I am not facing any technical challenges in that sense. I don’t know what challenges are awaiting me when I start shooting, I don’t know if there will be a third wave at that time, whether shooting will stop or not. So, we are all kind of skeptical in a way. But more than challenges I am getting help from people.
Considering the present situation, what are your thoughts on the release of the film?
Everyone wishes to watch films together at the theatre on the big screen. I want to make a good film. If it is good, whether we have a hall release or OTT, it will receive a good reaction. And if the film is bad no matter where we show it, people will reject it. So, I am concentrating on the film right now. I really hope things get better and for that even if we have to wait for a while to get a big-screen release then it is fine.