First of all, it was a very soothing experience to talk to Raj Chakraborty over the phone. We are extremely honored for the time Rajda spent with us. He was in a shopping mall but still accepted my call during his busy schedule. I will be adding the raw “UNAUDITED” version of the full telephonic conversation as MP3 file at the end of this written interview. In this write up, I am only extracting a gist of conversation I had with Raj Chakrabarty. I made one mistake thought the interview however. I have been repeatedly saying “Chirodini Ami je tomar” instead of “Chirodini Tumi Je Amar“. My mistake and I apologize for this very much!
It was a sudden interview and I was not very much prepared for this one. But I tried my best. Keep reading now. Due to some unavoidable noise over the phone I have missed few things that Raj da said. But I believe I covered more than 95% in the write up. If you find any mistakes, please do not hesitate to reply. I will correct as soon as I can.
Interviewed by: Ankan Basu
CalcuttaTube: What do you all think about internet promotion of Bengali film? Do you pay any attention to it?
Raj Chakraborty: Actually most of the viewers of Bengali films are from the villages, sub-urban areas. There may be some audience from Calcutta who are internet savvy. That is why we never thought about internet promotion very much so far. But obviously we will think about it in future.
CalcuttaTube: There are very few sites on Calcutta Bengali films. At Calcutta Tube, the page for Chirodini Tumi Je Amar has been viewed more than 14000 times. We have never seen such a superior response to any other films ever.
Raj Chakraborty: Yes, We have seen the site. We actually keep tracking of the site very regularly. People from Shree Venkatesh Films visit CalcuttaTube very regularly too.
Calcutta Tube: Well, what do you think about the recent Bengali films? In recent past there has been a great disappointment in Bengali Cinema. Only few people are coming to Cinema Halls to watch a Bengali movie. Do you think the depression in Bengali Cinema is changing now?
Raj Chakraborty: Yes, sure this is changing. Numerous people are back to Cinema Halls to watch Chirodini Tumi Je Amar. CDTJM is still running almost houseful in most of the halls even today. This is not because of the regular audience of Bengali Cinema. This is because many new people have been to the cinema halls to watch the film. We have to make new films and experiment with it and make
Calcutta Tube: We have noticed that most of the Bengali Films of these days are just remake of popular Hindi Films or Tamil Films.
Raj Chakraborty: Actually we have to select a good subject for the Bengali Films and at the same time must be able to add some commercial value to the film. For some films I may not get the commercial value, such as, when I make Tomling of Leela Majumdar. The main problem is how to achieve the commercial value of the film. We often face problems with that.
Calcutta Tube: We still think there are lot more experiments in Bollywood Hindi Films…
Raj Chakraborty: Sure, there are. However we need more new directors in main stream Bengali Film industry – who should try to experiment with Bengali Films and who should have prior knowledge of film direction. There are many upcoming young directors who are coming up with excellent works. I am sure they will do very well job. For example we made Chirodini Tumi Je Amar in a complete new way. Some of the viewers have the watched the film 20 times, fifty time and some even more just to figure out what is so special about the film.
Calcutta Tube: Chirodini Tumi Je Amar – is this your first film as a director?
Raj Chakraborty: Yes, Chirodini Tumi Je Amar is my first film as a Director. I have done realty shows before. Currently I am doing another stage show “I laugh You“. It is basically a laughter show. I am also starting a new film very recently. I have also worked on Zee Bangla TV show Mirakkel hosted by anchor Mir and Dance Bangla Dance and judged by Mithun Chakraborty.
Calcutta Tube: Well who are your Hero/Heroines in your new film?
Raj Chakraborty: Dev is the Hero in the new film. He has done 3 Bengali Films already. I have not decided the heroine yet.
Calcutta Tube: Have you decided the name of the movie yet?
Raj Chakraborty: No, not yet. It is a action – comedy film. Film with a very different taste and very much entertaining.
Calcutta Tube: Well, how did you choose Rahul and Priyanka for the film Chirodini Tumi Je Amar?
Raj Chakraborty: I had an initial audition. Many young girls and boys came for the audition. That time I talked to both Rahul and Priyanka and felt like they can be very much appropriate for the film. Then we had a workshop. After the workshop I finalize Rahul and Priyanka for leading roles and start shooting the film.
Calcutta Tube: How long did you spend to make the film Chirodini Tumi Je Amar?
Raj Chakraborty: It took 36 days to complete the film.
Calcutta Tube: Waw, such a nice film in such a short time!
Raj Chakraborty: Actually Bengali Films are made even within shorter time these days. Once the characters and script are made, it does not take too long to complete the film. On average Bengali films take about 40 days to complete
Calcutta Tube: What would you tell to the viewers of Bengali Films? We sometimes recommend people not to watch 4 bad Hindi films and instead ask them to watch one Bengali film. That may help survive the Bengali Film industry.
Raj Chakraborty: I would say two things. First of all we have to make very good Bengali Cinemas, only then I can ask audience to come and watch the film. So, the first step must be taken by us only. We have to give them good films, create the better ambiance. If we can do that, the audience will sure come to watch the film. Chirodini Tumi Je Amar proved this already. I would say our viewers to come and watch our films but not to watch any bad films be it in Bengali or Hindi.
Calcutta Tube: We heard that Bengali Film release in Calcutta is itself have been a big problem due to too many releases of Hindi and English film. What do you you feel about it?
Raj Chakraborty: Well, we don’t have any problem releasing Bengali Films these days in Calcutta. Chirodini Tumi Je Amar is still running in sixty five movie halls, during Puja it should be running in 75 halls, which has never happened to any other Bengali Film. Everything depends upon the film itself. I think if we can make good Bengali films and prepare cinema halls more efficiently, we can release Bengali films in 70-75 halls at a time. There are about 400 cinema halls in Bengal but only 100 or 110 of them are actually good. In future Qube Digital technology will be available to many more movie halls, the halls will be maintained cleaner than usual. At the same time we will be doing a better packaging of the films. In Calcutta hall owners have requested my for Chirodini Tumi Je Tomar. Even in some movie halls Chirodini Tumi Je Amar actually replaced release of some Hindi Films also. It is running simultaneously in numerous main stream movie halls in Calcutta. So, again, everything depends on the film. This is applicable to not only my films, but also films by any other directors.
Calcutta Tube: Well, Raj da, who do you think are some of the most promising directors in Bengali Film?
Raj Chakraborty: I can name Rirsha, very good director. Many more are actually coming such as Kaushik Ganguly is also making film of very different taste.
Calcutta Tube: What is average budget of Bengali Films these days? Do you usually face any monitory problems at all?
Raj Chakraborty: Chirodini Tumi Je Amar had a budget of 70 lakhs. My new film has a budget of two crores!
Calcutta Tube: Who normally collect that kind of big amount of money?
Raj Chakraborty: Usually the producers fund the money for the film. For example Shree Venkatesh funded the money for the Chirodini Tumi Je Amar. Well the budget includes songs also.
Calcutta Tube: Well, you just reminded us about the horrible Bengali music in recent film. They have notorious lyric, garbage like composition. We tried to listen to some of the songs in recent Bengali films but could not continue after listening one or two lines.
Raj Chakraborty: Well, let me talk about some recent good work too. For example, the title song from the movie “Khela”. That is a very different experimentation, exceptional. Again, if you listen to the songs of “Chalo Lets Go” – they are also exceptional. And again, the music cd of Chirodini Tumi Je Amar is still the best selling music form the Music World even today. I think when we started doing the good work, everyone is now wanting to do even better. We now have got the addiction of doing something better. Today is the time when we should stop looking at the recent past and look forward to our bright future of Bengali films. If we do it, that will be great for the Bengali Film industry.
Calcutta Tube: Well Raj da, it was a very nice talking to you. We thank you very much for your precious time that you spent with us tonight. We look forward to talk to you again in future.