Raj on Mamata to Mimi
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- Published 19.06.14
|Raj, outside the Shree Venkatesh Films office in Lake Gardens. Picture: Pabitra Das|
The buzz is that you will get a Trinamul ticket to contest the 2016 Assembly elections...
That’s still two years away. You will see if that happens. But my association with Didi (Mamata Banerjee) is not because I have any political agenda. I like Didi, I admire her, she is very energetic and she can mingle with the common people so easily. I get very positive vibes from her. You know, just the other day someone I knew was facing a problem. I SMSed Didi and within minutes it was solved!
You had campaigned extensively with Mamata Banerjee during the Lok Sabha polls...
(Smiles) Is this interview going to be only about Didi and me!?
Well, you are seen everywhere with her….
See, all I want is that whoever is in the seat of power should do good work for the people. And as I said I find Didi very positive and upbeat about changing a lot of things for the better and that’s why I am beside her. I don’t know how I came close to her, it just happened. Could be because Didi likes people from our industry and supports us. She has been telling us that she will gift us a film city soon with the latest infrastructure, studios, more AC floors. Didi has asked us to prepare a proposal. I have requested her to do something about the single-screen theatres too. She has assured us that she will help us. As filmmakers, we didn’t get any support from the previous government. They would only support Bombay filmmakers who wanted to shoot in Bengal.
I have always liked Mamata Banerjee since her days of struggle, since the time she created Trinamul. A woman can be so powerful… I like that aggressive streak in her. One day she called me by name and said, ‘Raj amar tomar kaaj khub bhalo lagey.’ Naturally, it felt very good. Then I met her after a year at a programme and there too she recognised me and I became her fan. And then I started going out with her during her campaigns.
Has travelling with her been a learning experience for you?
What I realised during these campaigns is that the common people don’t want to listen to political ideologies anymore. People are very sensible and they want honesty from a political leader. And that’s why they believe in Mamata Banerjee. They know that only she can solve their problems. This is what I understood from campaigning in the various districts. I too have told people why I believe and trust Mamata Banerjee. Besides, the people I met during these campaigns are the people who watch my films, so it was a good way to connect with them.
But as I said I am not looking forward to a seat in politics at the moment. I am in the thick of things. I am doing the post-production of Borbaad, I have Joddha on the floors, I am busy producing Kanamachhi (mega serial on STAR Jalsha), I am gearing up for Kathmandu, my next film, and also Tong Ling, the children’s film I have been wanting to make for a very long time.
Didi is very intelligent and knows when to offer a ticket. That’s why she gave a position to Rudra (Rudranil Ghosh). He will prove it, I know. Just give him two years.
Okay, coming to your films, the promos of your next release Borbaad (August 15) looks a lot like your debut film Chirodini... Tumi Je Amaar. So have you gone back to basics?
No, the trailer may mislead but it’s totally different from Chirodini. It’s a remake of the Tamil film Polladhavan. It’s an action-romantic film. And Borbaad doesn’t end on a tragic note. The only similarity between Chirodini and Borbaad is that I have launched newcomers (Bonny and Ritika) again. That’s because I love working with newcomers... with them I get to groom myself again and again. Of course I like working with stars but I enjoy working with newcomers more. Besides, I got maximum success when I worked with newcomers in Chirodini.
Yes, none of your later films could match up to the success of Chirodini. Why?
See, when I made Chirodini the condition of the Bengali film industry was bad and Chirodini brought a whiff of freshness. People watched the film because everything was new. That was in 2008 and now after six years mentalities have changed, films are quickly aired on TV, the single screens have deteriorated further.... Options are wider. Today a film releases on Friday and the next day you can download on your phone and watch it. We have it on record that one person had watched Chirodini 40 times! Now that person is watching films only once, so there’s a drop in the sales. Chirodini ran for 25 weeks. Now films are forgotten four weeks after release. Only making films isn’t enough, we have to improve infrastructure. Six years back we were habituated in a different way. A lot has changed now. Even the lower-middle class can afford an AC at home so why would they sit for three hours inside a non-AC single-screen theatre?
Why don’t you make multiplex-oriented film?
Bojhena Shey Bojhena did very well in the multiplexes. Proloy too. But I don’t make films keeping the multiplex audience in mind because there are only a handful of plexes. It’s better to make a film keeping all kinds of audience in mind, which may help boost collections. I think Borbaad will bridge that gap. It’s got the feel of Citylights. People are not liking action films with loads of dhishum-dhishum, blood and gore... that’s passe I think. People want to see good films, whether it’s mine or Srijit’s (Mukherji), hardly makes a difference. Today I am a director, tomorrow I want to be a full-time producer. Ten years later I will not direct films, my assistants will make films and I will produce those.
You are a master juggler already. You’ve launched Raj Chakraborty Productions, you are doing serials, directing films, campaigning for Trinamul…
Yes! I am very energetic! I am so young, just 38, and I want to do a lot more! I love working. I am producing Kanamachhi. In future, I want to produce films too. The future of Bengali cinema is bright because a lot of good films are made and more and more good films will be made. All we need is more theatres. We should make small plexes in the district towns. Also, we need to develop the sound system in the single screens.
Have you stopped the shoot of Joddha with actor-MP Dev midway?
I haven’t stopped but Joddha is giving me sleepless nights because Shrikantda (Mohta, Shree Venkatesh Films) has set the deadline for a Puja release. So I am tense. Dev had to devote a lot of time for campaigning and so our shoot got delayed. And now we will start shooting in a week and it’s monsoon. Joddha seems like it will take me 100 years to complete the film! We are shooting with so many horses and shooting with animals is always tough.
Coming to your personal life, are you dating Mimi?
All my heroines are my best friends! (Smiles)
But isn’t Mimi your special friend?
Special friend? Not really. Whenever I work with an actress she becomes my special friend! Mimi is like a friend, that’s why I am close to her.
But wasn’t Payel your closest friend at one point of time?
Do you have to ask me these questions?! (Laughs) I will definitely work with Payel in future. She is a very good actress. See, I used to talk about my personal life earlier. I was emotional then, but now I only want to talk about work. But yes, I am closer to my heroines than to my heroes.
Industry insiders say that you are a womaniser....
Arrey I am a star! That’s why they say all this. Can’t you see I wear fashionable clothes, I have green shades... so I am a star! Jokes apart, don’t believe in rumours!
When do you plan to marry?
Now where did this come from?! I am still so young! Let me be a little more mature; 38 is too young an age to tie the knot. Has Salman Khan tied the knot? Let me reach his age. Let me make some more money. I still live in a rented flat!
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