Team Avijatrik — Arjun Chakrabarty, Madhur Bhandarkar, Subhrajit Mitra, Bickram Ghosh, Gaurang Jalan and Ditipriya Roy — recently got together to talk about the film over dinner at Lord of the Drinks in South City Mall. A candid chat...
Now that the film is running in theatres, what is the feedback? The film has travelled across the festival circuit.
Madhur Bhandarkar: The response has been phenomenal across the globe... wherever people have seen the film (presented by Bhandarkar Entertainment and produced by Gaurang Films). After getting so many awards and appreciation, I am happy now that the audience can watch the film across India. The film has its heart in the right place. It was necessary to tell such a beautiful story. I am very happy with the response.
Did you get time to explore the city?
Madhur: Earlier I used to... now I come for events. I have lots of friends over here. Kolkata has always been a fascinating city for me. I have seen movies made here in Kolkata. I have discovered many aspects of Kolkata through the films of Ray and Sen. I came here exactly 20 years ago for the first time to receive an award. Tabu and I had come together then for Chandni Bar. I remember meeting Mrinalda at that point of time. From then on I have been coming here occasionally. I love the food over here... the architecture... its heritage. It fascinated me as a film-maker. If I have a good subject, I’ll make a film over here.
Do you have anything in mind?
Madhur: If I feel that there is a story on the underbelly of Kolkata, then I might. There is so much of depth to the city. And so much of it hasn’t been explored yet. Lots of film-makers have done amazing work here. Sujoy (Ghosh) did Kahaani here. If I shoot, I would like to explore an area that has not been shot before. Or maybe a film dedicated to the city of Kolkata. It can be a love tory, a crime thriller, a drama, it can be anything.
Will you direct or produce?
Madhur: It depends on the subject... if I know the subject and I can do justice to it, I can direct.
What do you have to say about the direction, the cast of Avijatrik?
Madhur: Everyone has been appreciated a lot. The music is beautiful. I keep listening to the tracks. Subhrajit has done a fabulous job. I remember meeting him for the first time when he narrated the subject and I was fascinated by the whole world. I felt this story has to be told. I wanted to be a part of the film. It fascinated me. Subhrajit has been very honest to the story. Also, it is great to have people to put the money where the passion is. That is very commendable. It is a human story depicted very well. It is beautifully shot and transports you to that period. I am happy that he shot the movie in black-and-white. To get so many talented people on board is so commendable. So much of hard work has gone into it.
Gaurang Jalan: I’m very happy with the overall team effort. Everyone has performed really well. Each department has worked really hard. As a producer, I am very happy. The film is about the simple joys.
The film release got delayed because of the pandemic. Did you ever think of releasing it on a streaming platform?
Madhur: Yes, we were thinking initially... for the right platform. It took time, going from 50 per cent capacity to 70 per cent capacity in theatres. And this film has an emotional story, so various aspects came into consideration while releasing the film. Had the pandemic not struck, we would have released the film in the beginning of 2020 only. People have put their trust in the film.
Arjun, did you feel impatient as you had to wait for the release of the film?
Arjun: At times, yes. Good things come to those who wait. I am really happy now. The seniors and the younger lot are really excited. The buzz on social media is great.
How challenging was it for you to shoot the film in black-and-white?
Subhrajit Mitra: I was very determined. It is a sequel to the Trilogy so it has to be a visual continuation of the Trilogy. It is a period piece and the audience can connect to that era immediately. Also, there is a saying that black-and-white captures your soul. I wanted to capture the soul of the journey. I wanted the audience to be drawn to the essence and soul of the story. Obviously, the richness of black-and-white is something else.
Bickram, what was your main challenge while composing the score ?
Bickram Ghosh: When I heard the script and finally when I saw the film, I was floored. He has made a modern-day masterpiece. That is when I really felt inspired. For me, there was the whole legacy of the Apu Trilogy, the music of my Guruji Ravi Shankarji. It was important for me to keep the legacy and the challenge was to keep the gharana intact. I have put a lot of myself into the film.... My whole understanding of classical music, my years of playing with Raviji, and my whole career has been about putting Indian classical music on the world map. This movie was a fantastic vehicle to project that. I am very happy with the accolades coming my way. Whoever has seen the film has gone gaga over it. I am really happy with the way the music has shaped up.
Ditipriya, how was your shooting experience?
Ditipriya Roy: It was an amazing journey. Subhrajitda and Sohagdi (Sen) were there to guide me. Of course I did my homework. To play my character, I had to articulate through expressions.
Pictures: Pabitra Das