Return of the prodigal son

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  • Published 20.03.04

1989. A 25-year-old Bandra-based Bengali, voted the sexiest man in India by popular filmi rags, gives Aamir Khan a path-break in a slick, off-beat gangster movie, shows sparks of rare cinematic skill, is flooded with offers, but retreats to the shores of Sicily.

2004. The man “without a sense of career” resurfaces with another film, marking a return to the talent inherited from father Basu Bhattacharya and maternal grandfather Bimal Roy.

Aditya Bhattacharya is secretly holed up in the editing suite of Solaris studio, off AJC Bose Road, with his comeback feature Dubai Return, starring Irrfan Khan.

“There were lots of editors in Mumbai but I needed someone who would have the technical capabilities and also share my sensibility. So, Arjun Gourisaria of Blagic Magic, the production company behind Patalghar and Teen Ekke Teen. Also because I could hardly concentrate on the work there, with a number of things happening at the same time,” says Aditya, explaining why he has chosen to camp in Calcutta for more than a month.

The Rs 2-crore film, to be dubbed in English and titled King Liar, was shot last year in Dubai and Mumbai by Aditya’s Destiny Pictures, and is targeting a May-end release.

Fifteen years from Raakh, the bald and charming film-maker is back to dealing with gangsters, but this time it’s all about losers with loads of attitude.

“Have you seen the way autorickshaw drivers in Mumbai carry themselves? They are poor, but there is a sense of style about them, which is very fascinating. Here, everybody wants his 10 seconds of fame,” says the man, during a lunch break.

“Irrfan as Aftab Angrez is a small-time goon desperate to claim a ‘hit’ that was unduly credited to someone else. He wants to be bad because he wants to be somebody,” explains Aditya, who would be happy if the film was liked in Mumbai’s suburban pockets of his inspiration. Female actors Ritu Shivpuri and Divya Dutta have minor roles. “It’s a black comedy and a very male film,” is the justification.

All this while in Sicily, Aditya made TV programmes, music videos and a critically-acclaimed film in Italian, learnt the language and worked as a chef. He also planned — and then put on hold — around eight projects.

“You know, I am a typical Bengali with high-flying ideas. My mother thought it was a bad idea to get away from Mumbai, but I think I have consciously become a film-maker,” smiles Aditya, before disappearing behind closed post-production doors.