Calcutta Tube (May 16): Filmmaker Atanu Ghosh is about to wind up the shoot of his second Bengali feature film intriguingly titled Takhan Teish (When He Was 23). His first film Angshumaner Chhobi was awarded Aravindan Puraskaram and Lankesh Chitra Prashasti, the Kerala and Karnataka State Awards respectively for the Best debut film of 2009 among films from all Indian languages. It was selected in the Indian Panorama of the International Film Festival of India, 2009 in the Competitive Section. Angshumaner Chhobi was hailed by critics and media as one of the most sensational films of 2009. The film had a six week commercial run in Calcutta and suburbs and is presently being screened in different film festivals across the world. He talks about Takhan Teish in a free-flowing interview.
What is Takhan Teish all about?
It is the story of a brilliant and sensitive 23-year-old junior doctor named Tamodeep whose life changes drastically within a brief span of 48 hours. It is a ‘coming of age’ story of this sensitive young boy from boyhood into adulthood that goes through the journey of evolving into a fast-paced psychological thriller. I chose Jisshu Sengupta to enact the role of Tamadeep because he is a wonderful actor dedicated completely to the work at hand and is ready to undergo any hardship to see his character find life on screen. I wanted a guy who has striking good looking and has a soft, pleasing personality. Jishu fitted the bill perfectly. The four women are Tanushree Shankar who plays his mother, Indrani Haldar who is Meghna, his tutor his mother thinks he has a major crush on, Aparajita Ghosh Das who is Sriparna in the film, a flighty young girl who strikes up relationships with young man picked from socializing websites and Paoli Dam who is his patient. I have written the story and the script myself.
What drove you to write this unusual story?
I enjoy placing my characters in tricky situations and watch them react to it. Here, a sensitive, brilliant and introvert guy is destined to have a lifetime experience within a span of 48 hours as he comes face to face with a varied range of emotions relating to man-woman relationship, namely affection, infatuation, lust, friendship, love and so on. In the process, his perception of life changes drastically. To any sensitive person, every relationship is a representation of a specific nature of emotion. And yet there are some relations that remain undefined. I have tried to explore the range between these two. In the course of first 48 hours, four women took the litmus test.
Rajatabho’s character is placed in Paoli’s flashback. What is he all about?
Tamodeep’s net friend Sriparna met Sandipan (Rajatabha Dutta) on the net and thereafter in person. Curiously, as the story progresses, Sandipan seems to have some past link with Mohini, played by Paoli. But I do not wish to disclose the exact nature of that link.
What kind of music have you developed for the film and why?
I have some idea about the background music that should go with the theme and treatment of the film but concrete ideas would come up after the rushes are edited. I think the subject also demands interesting use of sound effects. Presently we only have one song in the film. It is composed by Atulprosad Sen and sung by Jayati Chakrabarty.
Are you trying to put a message across? Or, are you just trying to tell a story?
I tend to avoid driving across any definite message. Offcourse I do hope that the course of the story, the layers of treatment, the images and sounds does evoke some churning process in the mind of the viewers.
Indrani is a permanent fixture in all your films and telefilms. Why?
Indrani is one of my favourite actors. So are Kaushik Sen, Rudranil Ghosh and some others. I have great regard and dependence on the acting prowess of these actors. Somehow I feel my concept gets enriched by their performance. They have performed very well and justified my choice whenever I have cast them in my telefilms in the past. Indrani played the female lead in my first film Anshumaner Chhobi. She is one of the best actresses we have in Tollygunge today.
We find that you have picked your technical team also with great care. Give us some details.
I have one of the most dedicated and talented men in the Bengali film industry as my team. Soumik Halder is my cinematographer for this film. We get along very well and are mutually open to suggestions. Indranil Ghosh is a rare art director who insists on remaining present on the sets during shooting whether he is needed or not. My editor, whose work is still to begin with this film, is one of the best we have. Suchandra Chakraborty, an long-time colleague, is organizing the costumes and the reputed Anirudhha Chakladar is the stylist for my film being produced by Tara Film Production.
You are a very meticulous director and an economical one too they say. What makes them say this?
I worked for television for many years. That perhaps drilled in me the value of economy. So, my average shot: take ratio is generally not more than 2:1. I monitor each shot several times for both my actors and my technical crew such as camera, light, sound etc before actually allowing the camera to roll and the sound to start. It comes with practice. For television, I had to work on very slender budgets and this must be one of the reasons. I rehearse more and tend to be specific about my requirements. Besides, my experience as an editor helps me to be economical with footage. I don’t shoot more than my requirement. I am precise about the chronological sequence of the costumes to be worn by a given character in a given shot. Illustrations of these costumes are made prior to shooting and stuck to a scrap book according to the sequence of the shots so that everyone concerned can be alert about the costume change – the actor, the costume designer, the stylist, the make-up man, and me. It saves time too and helps sustain continuity when this is called for.
Which locations have you shot in?
We have shot mostly in and around Calcutta. We have no less than 110 scenes in the film spread over 28 locations. We plan to release the film by August this year.
by: Shoma A. Chatterji