May 2, 2011 (Calcutta Tube): In an era of specialization, it is a pleasant surprise to discover young talents trying to hone their skills in more than one field. Somnath Gupta, director of Ami Aadu, his first film, teaches Mathematics at a noted Kolkata college. Ami Aadu has just been chosen by Databazaar Media Ventures for screening on DVDs and IPTV in North America and Canada. Gupta is thrilled about this unexpected accolade for his first film.
SOMNATH GUPTA – AMI AADU
MIXING MATHS AND MEDIA
Let us hear about your background in films.
I did two telefilms before I stepped into my first feature film. I also made two important analytical documentaries for Doordarshan. One was entitled Theatre Directors at Work drawning from across India. The other was The Story of New Theatres commissioned by Central Institute for Indian Language, Hyderabad.
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How and where did you find the story for Ami Adu?
I had read Swapnamoy Chakraborty’s short story in a magazine or newspaper some time ago and then again I read it in a collection of his short stories. It appealed to me because it has a different way of interpreting and showing the impact of globalization on rural India. I also found the story very cinema-friendly and easier to place on a shooting script than many other stories.
How loyal have you remained to the original story while making a film based on it?
I had to take some liberties for two reasons – one, the story was too short to be made into a two-hour full-length feature film so it needed some fleshing out. Two, I felt like introducting some celluloid counterpoints and characters to make the main characters stand out in relief and assume more depth. So, the character of the neighbouring young Hindu wife who looks after her mother-in-law is my addition. It does not exist in the original story. The parents of Adu and her lover also are not in Chakraborty’s story.
You have introduced a new face to play the title role and a relatively fresh face for Suleman though the character actors are quite well-known. Why?
The new face for the title role was designed deliberately. I did not want a star image to impinge on the character. I wanted a good rapport with the actor and I wanted dates at a stretch. I found her through a friend of mine. Samadarshi is a FTII alumnus and is very good. For the cameos, I took established names not only because they are very good actors, but also because they are extremely cooperative at work. Besides, the strong actors would be able to give solid support to the new ones.
Now that Databazaar Media Ventures has taken on some rights of the film for North America and Canada, what are your feelings about this?
I was introduced to DMV through a newspaper report on their handing over cheques to some Bengali producers whose films were acquired by DMV for distribution and screening in North America. I was very happy seeing that it was good for filmmakers like us because producers would find it a good and profitable avenue for their films and would more readily produce our films. I am extremely happy about this DMV link to the televising of our film abroad because I am sure that the audience response to Ami Adu will be tremendous.
What makes you so optimistic?
Experience has made me so confident about this film’s audience response everywhere. Ami Adu was part of the Indian Panorama at the IFFI at Goa last year and it got tremendous positive feedback from people across the board – Indians, NRI Indians, foreigners, everyone. The NRIs came and told us that they had liked the film very much. We also had a screening at the Auroville Film Festival and here too, the response, especially from NRIs was terrific.
– Shoma A. Chatterji