Anusuya Samanta on Bengali movie ‘Alo Chhaya’, DMV acquisition for release in US

Anasuya Samanta - 'Alo Chhaya' Bengali filmJune 13, 2011 (Calcutta Tube): Anusuya Samanta talks about her upcoming Bengali movie ‘Alo Chhaya‘. The director will also be seen acting in her film. The actor- director shares her thoughts on the film, why she chose the story and more. Read the interview at Caluctta Tube.

Anasuya is a young, gutsy woman who directed her first film Blood when she was only 22. She waited for some time to hit on her second, ambitious project Alo Chhaya that is scheduled to hit the theatres in West Bengal on June 24.

Based on a story Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay wrote 90 years ago under the title Alo O Chhaya, the film has already been acquired by Databazaar Media Ventures for distribution through screenings, telecasting, streaming and DVD distribution in North America and Canada. In a brief interview, Anasuya holds forth on why and how she fulfilled her dream project.

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Why did you choose a Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay story above other writers?

I have noticed that the young audience who belong to my age-group and younger, have become averse to cinema transposed from Bengali literature though at one time, most Bengali films were rooted in its literature. That is one reason for choosing Bengali literature as my source per se. About why Sarat Chandra over other writers, I feel that this is one writer who could understand the psyche of a woman very well in all its multi-layered dimensions. He could easily portray the range of emotions that dominated a woman’s mindset.

Why not Tagore when everyone is jumping on the Tagore bandwagon on his 150th birth anniversary?

Tagore is very much present in my film through his music and his songs. I have tried to work out a blend of Sarat Chandra and Tagore because my research on both these writes has shown me that the two writers, though Sarat Chandra was much younger than Tagore, had mutual respect for each other and for each other’s works I have tried to stick to the time when the story was written – 90 years ago and felt that some of the Tagore songs would fit into the story as if Tagore wrote it for the story itself. I think it is unique in Bengali cinema to have a film based on a Sarat Chandra classic to be spilling over with Tagore songs. Music is a very important leitmotif in my film and so is Tagore.

There is the theme of reincarnation. Was it there in the original story?

No. The reincarnation and dream bit was not there in the original. I incorporated it into the script to connect it to the contemporary world of youngsters who go on a trip to the old mansion to link with the past. It covers a larger span of time. But the main story happens within the period context with a twist in the tale. My aim is to inspire the younger generation and the audience to go back to literature – in the original and through films.

How did the Databazaar Media Ventures connection happen for this film?

I had already heard about them and wanted to explore the distribution market overseas in the areas they cover – beginning with North America and Canada but extending to reach out further barring India and Bangladesh. They asked me to send some footage of the film. They liked it very much and they offered to acquire the distribution, telecasting and DVD rights including streaming through subscription channels. I am overjoyed. What they are doing for contemporary Bengali films is really wonderful.

You are playing the major female lead in the film. Don’t you think that acting and direction are too much of a burden to carry?

Not in the least. Actually, it is easier for me to act and direct at the same time because I am basically an actress and later decided to direct films. When I am going through a possible story, I find out the character I can identify with most closely and enact it myself. I also do a lot of editing in my head while I am working with my script. The characters come out sharply and I know which one I am going to portray.

– Shoma A. Chatterji

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