April 20, 2011 (Calcutta Tube): Tollywood producer Anilava Chatterjee talks about what made him make a unique Bengali film ‘Egaro’ (The Eleven) on the historic football match of 1911 and how the film got chosen by the Databazaar Media Ventures for release in North America. Read the interview at Calcutta Tube.
ANILAVA CHATTERJEE – SPORTS AND CINEMA
Meet Anilava Chatterjee whose unique interests in sports and the media has resulted in a wonderful film Egaro (The Eleven). The film is an exciting blend of history and football. Anilava has honed his skills in making sports-centric programmes for several Bengali channels. He talks about his first feature film and how it got picked by Databazaar Media Ventures.
What motivated you to make Egaro?
[ReviewAZON asin=”B003Y3X08O” display=”inlinepost”]Among other sports, I also produce live football matches for different channels. Kolkata, football and the field are an integral part of me as a person. I knew about the historic triumph of Mohun Bagan over East Yorkshire Regiment in 1911. But it never occurred to me to make a film on it. I joined the technical team purely as composer and director of the final match. But the original producer backed out and the film collapsed. So, I stepped in as producer. I knew the film would appeal to a wide audience. I persuaded two more producers to join me.
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How did the Databazaar Media Ventures link happen?
We got to know about Databazaar Media Ventures from Arijit Dutta of Piyali Films who introduced us to people in DMV. We were very happy when we discovered that DMV has created a very special market for the Bengali films in North America and now also in Canada. DMV has made it possible for NRIs to watch new Bengali films and Bengali filmmakers to reach out to this massive NRI audience both Bengali and non-Bengali. Many Bengali films like Laboratory, Angshumaner Chhobi, Gorosthane Gondogol have got very positive response..
What are your expectations from from the North American and Canadian audience vis-à-vis Databazaar Media Ventures’ acquisition?
Among Bengalis in North America and Canada, there are many men and women who are still crazy about football. They still draw from their nostalgic memories of having watched football on the maidan during 60s, 70s or even 80s. Egaro will take them on a journey back by 100 years into a history they might have heard of but will now be able to see reconstructed on film. Websites show how football matches get the maximum hits from overseas.
You have been credited with directing the entire match in the film played between East Yorkshire and Mohan Bagan. How did you do it?
The entire match including the crowd scenes were shot over 11 days. Most of the actors were not professional footballers. I hired a coach. I wanted to sustain as much realism as possible. The biggest hurdle was Nature’s wrath. The shooting began on April 16 and you can imagine the heat we had to shoot in and the actors who had to shoot bare feet. Even the junior artistes ran for cover during breaks. We had also shot many actual match sequences and the footage became so long that we later sat and did some serious clipping and editing.
Are you happy about the positive response to the film in West Bengal and the fact that the West Bengal government has granted it exemption from Entertainment Tax?
Noted footballer Arjun and Prasun Banerjee, ex-captain of the Indian team made the tax exemption possible. The sports fraternity has supported this film. Sourav Ganguly too visited us on location to motivate us. Players and officials of Mohun Bagan visited a couple of times. We have been told that the West Bengal Government has granted this exemption after three decades!
Shoma A. Chatterji