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Sandip Ray on his next film with short stories and casting Abir as Feluda

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By Kushali Nag Will Abir make a better Feluda than Bomkesh? Tell
  • Published 28.08.13

In between planning for Feluda and Professor Shonku, Sandip Ray will wrap up his next untitled film based on four short stories. A t2 chat...

You’ve chosen the Jekhane Bhooter Bhoy format again for your next film...

I was scared while making Jekhane Bhooter Bhoy, to be very honest, because not too many films have been made in that format... apart from Teen Kanya, Kapurush Mahapurush and three-four other films. I really enjoy making short stories because I had earlier done so many for television and the shooting process was a lot of fun. We were all apprehensive about Jekhane Bhooter Bhoy... whether people would at all accept a film like this because we still believe that our audience want a beginning, a middle and an end. I was very happily surprised when Jekhane Bhooter Bhoy clicked. You know, while making Jekhane Bhooter Bhoy, I had read a lot of short stories and so I thought of putting that to use and make another film in the same format.

You’ve finalised only two stories so far....

Yes, Baba’s (Satyajit Ray) Kaktarua and Parashuram’s Boteshwarer Abodan. Saswata (Chatterjee) stars in both the stories. There’s Paran Bandopadhyay, Subhrajit Datta, Sreelekha Mitra. We start shooting from Wednesday in Bolpur. Kaktarua is an extremely cinematic story and very subtle, but at the same time very moving. There’s a supernatural element too. I have to finalise a title for the film. We are still not sure about the last two stories but definitely one of Sharadindubabu’s (Bandopadhyay) stories will be there because he is my favourite. We will finish shooting by October and release the film in December.

Are short stories easy to make?

I won’t say easy because short stories are a different kind altogether. The shooting is also different… nothing is easy. To make a short story work is very difficult. But fortunately, the stories are so good this time... very filmable stories. It might work because the audiences are accepting different kinds of films.

You are repeating the entire Jekhane Bhooter Bhoy cast...

Well, there will be a lot of women in this film. For the first two stories, yes, I have chosen most of the Jekhane Bhooter Bhoy cast. Saswata, Paranda, Subhrajit.... Saswata is so good that I really like working with him. He won’t be there in my next two films — Shonku and Feluda.

Saswata has done Kaktarua on TV directed by you...

No, that’s unfinished. That was never aired. We shot it but the entire series was never televised. Nobody watched it.

What’s the process of choosing a short story?

I try and incorporate very different stories. Yes, there are too many short stories. Bengali literature is a treasure trove of short stories. And people should know the names, the old writers, the old shorts. This generation connects to Sharadindu Bandopadhyay because of Bomkesh. But he also wrote other stories and we should let people know, so that people read more. That is important.... There’s no fixed process. There are a lot of stories but they may not be very filmable. But some stories can be visually very interesting. I mainly choose tales with a twist. Which is there in Baba’s stories. The sting has to be there in the tale.

Why don’t you ever choose the old Feluda team of Sabyasachi Chakrabarty or Parambrata Chattopadhyay for your non-Feluda films?

Well, that’s not intentional. Maybe they don’t match the age of the characters. If I have a story where they will fit in, then definitely I will work with them. We really enjoyed working together. (Laughs) I miss the old team.

Weren’t you toying with the idea of making a Feluda film with Abir Chatterjee before this film?

Absolutely! That is on. But I wasn’t very sure if Abir would at all do Feluda, you know. There were a few uncertainties because Anjan (Dutt) has decided to do at least five Bomkesh, of which he has made three. If Abir would have done the rest two, then we would have had to rethink. But Abir has decided to do Feluda. I didn’t want him to play both Bomkesh and Feluda, there would have been an identity crisis. But now that Abir is ready, we will start shooting for Badshahi Angti from February.

I have written the script. Badshahi Angti is the first major Feluda novel. So we are thinking of a total reboot. We will start Feluda on a clean slate. We will shoot in Lucknow, Hardwar and Lakshman Jhula. There will be some indoors in Calcutta. Shooting will be over by March, post-production will keep us busy till June and we will have a December release again. After Feluda, I will start the pre-production of Professor Shonku. It will be a huge pre-production... for about eight-nine months if not more, because Shonku has never been adapted on celluloid and if it turns out bad then I’ll be in very big trouble. (Laughs)

Both Bollywood and Tollywood are making Bomkesh Bakshi films. Will you ever make a Bomkesh Bakshi?

I want to make one but a lot of Bomkesh films have already been done. Ritu’s (Rituparno Ghosh) Bomkesh (Satyanweshi) is releasing on September 6. Anjan will also be releasing his Bomkesh. Let this Bomkesh flood subside.... I would love to do a Bomkesh. Bomkesh and Feluda are my favourite detective characters.

Given a choice between Feluda and Bomkesh, who would you choose?

Feluda naturally, he is barir lok! We almost have a blood connection with Feluda! I am very excited about Badshahi Angti. Hope it clicks.