April 20, 2011 (Calcutta Tube): Bengali actor and Tollywood megastar Prosenjit shares his thoughts on Databazaar Media Ventures support in promoting, distributing Bengali films in North America. Prosenjit starrer Bengali films Autograph and Cholo Paltai has already been acquired by the DMV while ‘Moner Manush’ may be on its way for Databazaar acquisition. Shoma A. Chatterji talks to the great star. Read the interview with Prosenjit at Calcutta Tube.
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PROSENJIT – “EVERY DAY IS A NEW DAY”
Take a good look at Prosenjit. Does he look different from the way he looked, say, five or six years ago? Nine times out of ten, he does look different – young, handsome, fresh, mature and wise. Post-Moner Manush, Autograph and Chalo Paltai, his career has taken a different turn – towards a better journey into exploration of what he is worth as an actor. He is now busy putting the finishing touches to the much-awaited and debated Baishey Srabon, a murder mystery directed by Srijit Mukherjee. Prosenjit is not just an actor. Few people understand the film industry as a business venture, an entrepreneurship, and a finished and marketable product in Bengal the way he does, having worked within this world for nearly three decades now.
In what way do you think the involvement of Databazaar Media Ventures in acquiring distribution, exhibition, streaming and DVD rites of current Bengali films for the market in North America and Canada is helping the industry and the filmmakers?
For me, it is a long-time dream realised in life. I have nourished a dream of taking Bengali cinema beyond its regional borders to national cinema and then to spread Bengali films across an international audience. My dream was to see Bengali cinema earning in dollars not rupees and Databazaar Media Ventures had made this possible. I am very happy about it and it is taking Bengali cinema a long way geographically, culturally and audience-wise. The dollar revenue should be apart from the money it earns from the local market. Revenue is important for any industry and it is no different for Bengali cinema. Databazaar Media Ventures has already acquired Autograph and Chalo Paltai and might soon acquire Moner Manush as well. I am in constant touch with them and they have even distributed part of the profits to producers of earlier films they had acquired for N.A. and Canada such as The Japanese Wife, Angshumaner Chhobi and so on. The simultaneous international release of Memories in March mainly through the good offices of Databazaar Media Ventures is a great achievement indeed.
Let us hear about your long innings at the pitch of Bengali cinema?
I am very happy right now, about the changes I have witnessed over my long journey in Bengali cinema. I began at the time when Bengali films were made within streamlined budgets of Rs.15 lakh or so. Today, the scenario has changed in every sense. Not only have budgets shot up to Rs.2.5 crore per film, but there have been dramatic changes in every area of the industry. Technology has changed from B & W to colour, from 16 mm to 35 mm, from sync sound to stereophonic to Dolby. The science and art of dubbing has changed. Films that could be watched on DD shifted to a wider audience through satellite channels, then from VHS to VCD to DVD and then streaming through the Internet. The audience has changed. The exhibiting scenario has changed from single-screen to multiplex changing the very culture of the audience that watches films. I am very happy because I am a part of this entire change and evolution. Given the chance, I would not have had it any other way.
What has the feedback to Moner Manush been like?
Incredible and amazing, to state it briefly. It demanded a complete deconstruction of Prosenjit as his fans and his audience had known till before this film. They accepted this deconstruction very well and the film went on to bag a top award at the IFFI in Goa last year. The Governor of West Bengal has asked to see the film and it will be his first ever Bengali film. The President has also expressed a wish to see the film. Memories in March will be with me till the end of my life. It is an off-mainstream film. The music belongs to a genre the present audience is not familiar with. Yet, everyone loved the film and it also has repeat value. What more can an actor ask for?
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What about Autograph and Chalo Paltai?
Autograph marked the debut of a new director with a fresh perspective on the medium and the language of cinema. He had a different kind of story to tell and it not only worked but has become a brand with its music. Today, many identify me with Arun Chatterjee in Autograph. Caller tunes, ring tones, are flush with tunes from songs of the film that are the biggest musical hits in Bengali cinema. I thoroughly enjoyed playing a matinee idol for the first time. I had my doubts about how the audience would receive it. But it became a big box office hit. Chalo Paltai was directed by veteran Haranath who has given big hits through his long career. This was different because I play a very different character – a single parent to two growing kids and no romantic angle at all. The character had made shades and I loved doing it. I doubt if my audience would have accepted me in this persona even five years back. But today, the film is going great guns even in multiplexes which are great news indeed.