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Soukarya Ghosal on Bhootpori with Jaha Ahsan: ‘I wanted to show a bond between humans and ghost’

Bhootpori also stars Ritwick Chakraborty, Sudipta Chakraborty and Santilal Mukherjee

Soujannya Das Calcutta Published 21.02.24, 04:49 PM
Jaya Ahsan in Soukarya Ghosal-helmed supernatural film Bhootpori

Jaya Ahsan in Soukarya Ghosal-helmed supernatural film Bhootpori Instagram

Director Soukarya Ghosal, who was a cartoonist before switching to films, talks about the making of his supernatural film Bhootpori, starring Jaya Ahsan, and the challenges of directing children.

How was the idea of Bhootpori conceived?

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Soukarya Ghosal: I always wanted to make a horror film in Bengali but the kind of horror films that we see or get inspired by are from Hollywood. The concept of horror comes from Hollywood. It’s a very successful format where the ghost is the villain and humans are getting influenced or badly affected by them. Ultimately at the end, there’s emancipation or you can actually tame the ghost. In Hollywood films, the entire narrative on ghosts is very evilish.

With Bhootpori, I tried to lean on the concept of ghosts that are very eastern and that we get in our literature – Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, Bibhutibhushan, Leela Majumdar. I banked on all of them and my training in reading Bengali ghost stories helped me shape the character of Bonolota, played by Jaya Ahsan, and also the story where we are dealing with ghosts in a human aspect. The ghost is mostly like a human but she has some extra powers. She can do a lot of things but she has the same emotions, she has the same anger like humans. I wanted to show a bond between humans and the ghost.

The story has elements of both horror and comedy. How challenging was it to translate that in Bhootpori?

Soukarya Ghosal: We decided at the script level that the story would have horror, comedy, thriller and emotional elements. Bhootpori is a culmination of these four genres, which is very unique, but that is not very challenging for me because this kind of thing comes very easily to me.

Bonolota is not a typical ghost. How did this character develop?

Soukarya Ghosal: Bonolota is a woman from 1947-48. There was a challenge of pronouncing certain words in a certain way, which Jaya had to work on a lot and she did it very well.

Why did you pick Jaya Ahsan for this role?

Soukarya Ghosal: I had to narrate the script to Koel (Mallick) because she is the one for whom the project happened. After we discussed it, Jaya came to our mind. She has that Bangaliana. Bonolota is not a rich woman. We had to plan how we would make her look ethnic with minimum costume treatment and not be extravagant.

Working with children is one of the toughest jobs for a director. Can you talk about that?

Soukarya Ghosal: Right from my first film Pendulum, almost all my films have had children. For me, it is not difficult anymore but very tiring. It is very exhausting to prepare them for a role with rigorous rehearsals and then to control them on the set and make them realise that they and the adult actors are equals. But though it is physically and mentally exhausting, I enjoy it.

Can you talk about the mise-en-scene of the film?

Soukarya Ghosal: After writing the script, Pooja Chatterjee comes on board and she stays with the film till its release. Pooja and I plan the costume, look and feel. We then narrate our planning to all the departments.

Cinematographer Alok Maiti has done a brilliant job. We have tried to treat the film with a lot of slow motion. The film has a dreamy colour palette. To make the character pop up, you have to have a very constructive sense of colour palette, otherwise the character would merge with the background. We have used a lot of wide angles and low angles. A big part of the film has been shot with a 12mm lens. We wanted to create a sort of distortion with the background and the character.

Nabarun Bose has done a very interesting job with the music. We used the violin to highlight the supernatural elements. Designing music for supernatural things is very tough. Adeep Singh Manki and Anindit Roy did an immensely detailed sound design, which helped the film.

What is next for you?

Soukarya Ghosal: I recently shot OCD and Kalantor, which are my productions and both of the films have Jaya Ahsan. Another film, Pokkhirajer Dim, a sequel to Rainbow Jelly, is yet to be released.

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