Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury is a recognised filmmaker who stretches the borders of celluloid representations differently. His first two films, namely Anuranan and Antaheen were based on his own stories. His third, Aparajita Tumi is the celluloid adaptation of Sunil Gangopadhyay’s Dui Nari Haatey Torobari. The film has been acquired by Databazaar Media for North America and Canada for screening, distribution, exhibition and streaming. What makes him think out-of-the-box films that are widely accepted by the audience? Let him do the talking.
What attracted you to Sunil Ganguly’s story while you were looking through subjects and stories for your new film?
Over the last few years, I had been travelling to theUSoff and on quite frequently. I saw the glamour and the glitz, the beauty and the affluence within which people live. But I also saw the invisible lines between the glamour and the glitz that spelt out a story of loneliness, of living in a kind of emotional vacuum. I had read Sunil-da’s story four years ago and I found the characters very familiar. I discovered that they were timeless and universal. The story brings to life some lines of the poet Rumi that says, “Beyond right and wrong” and found it to be very real and true to life. So I decided to make the film.
Are you saying that relationships beyond the parameters of social sanction should not be judged on their values?
Yes, I found it in Sunil-da’s story also set in theUS. Who are we to make value judgements on a person’s behaviour, movements, changes in attitude and so on? Circumstances sometimes play a very important role in these changes within and between relationships. Perspectives can change too. What appeared to be wrong yesterday might seem quite right today. Human nature and life are so unpredictable that anything can happen at any given point of time and we cannot be judgmental about these changes precisely because we are human.
Is there any specific reason that makes you focus on relationships in general and man-woman relationships in particular?
It is not a conscious choice. I like to explore the human mind. This exploration is an on-going, unending process. For instance, I feel that I have left several things unexplored in my two earlier films. A lot I think needed to be explored. I constantly explore myself through my films. My next film might be a thriller who knows? Even I do not know.
You chose a story set against a US backdrop. Why?
Aparajita Tumi is a very big budget film. The US ambience with its lovely landscapes, beautiful visuals, the comfort levels the people were financially placed in helped me bring out the contradiction between the landscape and the mental states of some of the Indians residing there for decades – suffering from feelings of utter loneliness. The landscape was perfect but their mindsets were imperfect, or were it the other way round? The lines between perfection and imperfection are blurred quite often by one’s perspective on things which changes all the time.
What are the criteria you applied while casting for the characters in the film and why did you draw your actors from across the globe – Mumbai, Kolkata, the southern parts, and the US. Why?
While Shyamal was writing the script, images of the characters came up in my mind. This happens to me much before the shooting is to begin and they remain rooted to my perceptions of the characters. For example, for Antaheen, I decided Radhika Apte was just right for the character of the investigative journalist. There is absolutely no logic in this but it is there. I felt no one other than Padmapriya could fit into the character of Kuhu. I am not looking for stars you see, I am looking for faces that fit into my perception of the characters that people my film.
Music has always been a strong point of your films. What role does music play in Aparajita Tumi?
Both sound and music are very important elements for me in real life. This naturally extends to my filmmaking and my films. I loved classical music when I was in school. Music brings life into my work. I take the musical score before I begin to shoot the film to create the rhythm of the film. In the original story, the chapters have different titles. In my film, the music defines each chapter. Music and songs are used as an editorial strategy. Songs form an alternate way of articulating thoughts that cannot be spelt out through dialogue. Music expresses and underlines the mood of a given scene. The same applies to sound effects as well.