September 1, 2011 (Calcutta Tube): After completing the shooting of Dibakar Banerjee’s Shanghai in Latur, Maharashtra in the terrible heat of May, Prosenjit winded up the final post-production work on Srijit Mukherjee’s Baishey Srabon and flew off to the US for the shooting of Aniruddha Roy Choudhury’s Aparajita Tumi. Though he was a bit put off by the constant postponing of his L.A. schedule for the film, he has come back fresh from a sort of work-cum-holiday in the US, geared up for the impending release of Srijit Mukherjee’s second directorial film Baishey Srabon. Enjoy the FIRST EXCLUSIVE interview with Prosenjit for Bengali Film APARAJITA TUMI at Calcutta Tube.
What is Aniruddha’s new film all about?
It has been sourced from a Sunil Gangopadhyay story entitled Dui Nari Hatey Tarobari. It is an intriguing title that translates as ‘Two Women, sword in hand.’ Aniruddha has changed the name to Aparajita Tumi. Since the story explores the mindsets and lifestyles of Bengalis in the US. We have shot the film totally in the US.
What character are you playing in the film?
I play a very successful, high-flying corporate head. I am married and my marriage is happy as I have a good relationship with my wife. But then the story takes a turn. You see, every marriage reaches a point of stasis somewhere along the line. The same husband-wife relationship which was filled with a sense of complacency begins to suffocate the persons within the relationship and in no time, it reaches a crisis point. It is at this point when the character I play begins to suffocate under the pressure of a marriage in stasis that a new, younger woman enters his life. The marriage has reached a burnout like many marriages do. It does not mean that it is dead, however.
Would you then say that the film is basically about an adulterous relationship?
Yes and no. Yes, because the man really gets involved with Kamalini Mukherjee, a famous star of Telugu and Kannada films who has quite a fan following in the US we found. She plays the girlfriend. No, because this does not marginalize the role of Padmapriya also a renowned Southern actress who plays my wife. You cannot be judgmental about certain relationships at certain phases of one’s life. The film evolves from this ideology if you can call it one. Some might like to call it a triangular love story set against the backdrop of a foreign country.
Aparajita Tumi is filled with National Award winners. Do you find that thrilling?
Yes, of course I find it thrilling. But it is also extremely challenging because you have to face up to tough competition through your work. Both Kamalini Mukherjee and Padmapriya from Southern cinema are National Award winners. So am I. Aniruddha has also won National Awards for two of his films. Our cinematographer Ranjan Palit, has several national awards tucked in his portfolio. Audience expectations go up considerably with so many national award winners, you know. We have an intelligent audience that knows what to expect and will not hesitate to reject a film if its expectations are not met with.
Several notable films of yours have been acquired by Databazaar Media Ventures such as Autograph and Chalo Paltai. In what way, in your frank opinion, is Databazaar contributing to the wider reach of contemporary Bengali cinema world-wide?
I am extremely happy with the way Databazaar Media Ventures has taken contemporary Bengali cinema to distant lands like the Northern US and Canada. For me, personally, it is like a dream-come-true. The dream was to reach out to NRI viewership – Bengali and non-Bengali, who would like to watch recent films released in India they had to wait to watch back in their homes abroad. This is just one dimension – widening the horizons of Bengali cinema culturally, geographically and in terms of viewership.
Which is the other dimension of Bengali cinema DMV has contributed to?
The other dimension Bengali film producers must keep in mind is the revenue that it earns back for them in dollars in addition to the gate money their films earn in their home state. This extra revenue will give a further fillip to Bengali cinema in terms of good films and finished productions. Some films are even getting international releases simultaneously such as Shree Venkatesh Films’ Memories in March directed by Sanjoy Nag. This has been a great achievement indeed. They have taken on a mixed blend of Bengali films such as Atanu Ghosh’s Angshumaner Chhobi and Takhan Teish, Aparna Sen’s two films The Japanese Wife and Iti Mrinalini, Haranath Chakraborty’s Chalo Paltai, Raja Sen’s Laboratory, Avik Mukherjee’s Ekti Tarar Khonje, Anjan Dutt’s Byomkesh Bakshi and Ranjana Ami Aar Ashbona, Somnath Gupta’s Ami Aadu, Arun Roy’s Egaro, the list simply keeps growing every day.
Shoma A. Chatterji