March 1, 2011 (Calcutta Tube): The film industry in Bengal is flooded with young filmmakers with stardust in their eyes, desperate to cut their teeth in film-making with a striking debut. The young and strapping Arun Roy is just one of them. But he now stands out of the crowd with his brilliant debut Egaro, a film that recreates history by fictionalizing it. He talks about how this happened and what makes him so happy.
What are your feelings now that the West Bengal government has exempted Egaro from entertainment tax and Databazaar Media Ventures has acquired the North American distribution rights of the film?
I am truly overwhelmed by the extremely positive response to my first film. The happiness is all the more considering the uphill task I had to face just to get a willing producer to back my idea. I really did not expect all this. When, after the first day’s 6.00 pm show at Nandan was followed by loud echoes of Mohan Bagan Jeete Raho, and Mohan Bagan Jug Jug Jiyo I felt on top of the world.
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How difficult was it to get a willing producer?
It took me a year and a half firstly to find and then to convince this group for who Egaro is also a first film. No established production house, big and small, known and unknown, was ready. One producer asked me to cast two top stars of commercial cinema to portray the two main heroes of the IFA Shield finals. I refused because it would take away from the ‘authenticity’ I was trying to infuse into my film.
What inspired you to make Egaro?
I dragged my feet on television writing scripts and assisting directors for years, all the time nourishing my dream of making a feature film. I wanted to something really big with an original story and script that would make an impact on the audience and would also have shelf value.
How did you choose the specific subject of football and peg it to the IFA Shield win of Mohan Bagan?
I watch films every day. I have seen that all films are based on the universal subject of human interrelationships. The basic idea of making a film on a sporting even was already there. Then I happened to watch Lagaan. I felt – if a fictitious story of an indigenous cricket team that wins against a well-trained British one can be such a big hit, why won’t a film based on a true sporting event from history make an impact? I knew about the historic win in 1911. I struck on this event and built up the story from there.
How long did your research take?
I did both at the same time, hunting for a producer and researching my subject. The root story was already there. I fleshed it out with some fictional elements without taking too many liberties. I then asked my scriptwriter Dipanwita Ghosh Mukherjee to write the script.
How did you prepare your players for the match scenes?
We appointed Manojit Das who was once captain of the East Bengal team to coach them. We would take them to the maidan just behind the field where the East Bengal players practice along Red Road at six in the morning for three months before the actual shooting began. Two out of the eleven are professional footballers while a few are good players. They found it gruelling to begin with but warmed up over time.
-Shoma A Chatterji