Bengali Filmmaker Tapan Banerjee talks about his upcoming Bengali film Rajdrohi, a romantic love story with a science fiction element, that will certainly add a new genre to the mainstream Bengali cinema. The interview sheds light on science fiction used in Bengali and Indian cinema, the technologies available in the Tollywood, resources available when trading in a different path, the relative position of Bengali films in the Indian cinema and more.
Calcutta Tube: Why do we lack science fiction movies in the Bengali cinema?
Tapan Banerjee: The audience preferences mainly dominate the film industry and the producers of Bengali movies think that their audience, especially the rural audience, is not quite ready to accept movies outside the regular formulae. That is the reason why we do not much films made on modern subjects. Ever since Avik, my son, came up with the story of ‘Rajdrohi‘, I have been trying to convince many producers to make a film on it. I wanted to come out of the regular convention and try to do something new.
Calcutta Tube: How much technological advancements does the Bengali film indusrty have to make science fictions?
Tapan Banerjee: We do have advanced technology here. You just need to find the right thing out. I have completed all the procedures that required advanced technologies right here in Kolkata. When you are working with the technical people, the important thing is to make yourself clear. They need to know precisely what is to be done. The scenes showing the how a person disappears involves most of the sci-fi subject.
Rajdrohi is not a parallel film. It is a rather commercial film, a romantic love story that has a science fiction element. I have tried to come of the usual romantic movie formula. So I changed the story line. I did not want to portray the much told love story between a couple who come from different sections of the society and struggle against their parents, class barrier, and all possible odds to unite. I would like to mention it here that ‘Rajdrohi‘ is not completely a science fiction. I have always kept the audience in mind.
The film has a huge amount of investment. So, I had to think about recouping the cost. To make the Bengali film industry survive, it is important for the producers to survive. If the film gets a positive response, we can experiment some more in future. But the changes to be brought in have to be very slow and gradual. We have to let the audience adjust with time to the changing patterns.
The making of ‘Rajdrohi‘ required a lot of technology and computer graphics. And I am quite happy with the way everything worked out. We have not had much films like this made in Indian cinema. Even the films Mr. India and Gayab did not use much advanced technologies.
[ReviewAZON asin=”B0002NRRRO” display=”inlinepost”]Calcutta Tube: Does ‘Rajdrohi’ have any components that the children would enjoy? I remember how exciting we found Mr. India in our childhood days.
Tapan Banerjee: The way in which the invisible man would act will be enjoyed by the kids. And not only the kids, the grown-ups would enjoy that too. The film has a lot of funny things.
Calcutta Tube: What is the current position of Bengali cinema in respect to the Indian cinema?
Tapan Banerjee: The Bengali film industry is making more a hundred films this year. This is going to be history. We did not have so many films made annually even during the period of Uttam Kumar. It is going to be a revolution. Even the corporate houses are streaming in. And to make the industry survive, we, the filmmakers have to bring in new films. We need to break the conventional patterns, though. We do have some innovative filmmakers. We still need some good scriptwriters and story-writers. Most of the time, Bengali films films have a tendency to go over the edge with dialogues. We need to bring some alterations there.
There is a lot of insecurity involved with film making and that is reason the movie-makers dare not tread along a path that has not been walked before. Even an actor sometimes stick to their images and looks that have brought them hits, though it does not always work. The remunerations in the Bengali film industry are nothing extravagant. So the professionals associated with the industry have to think about the commercial aspects. It is kind of an insecured feeling.
After witnessing the huge success of the film ‘Chirodin-ee Tumi Je Amar‘, many others films were made in the same pattern depicting the gory annals of love. Not all of them worked. And yet, not many directors dared to come out of the pattern. We do not have any guarantee of success no matter what film we make or how we make it, but still we need to move on and bring in new innovations. I am eagerly waiting to get audience feedback for my current film.
Calcutta Tube: Please tell us something about the music you have used in ‘Rajdrohi’, since the film has a science fiction element in it.
Tapan Banerjee: I have not walked in a new path as far as the songs in ‘Rajdrohi’ go. They are just regular Bengali movie songs. However, I have been very concerned with the background music and effects. H Saiguru Nath has done a fabulous job with the background music. The film has effects have by Karunakaran, who is a very experienced person and often works with the famous director Priyadarshan. The effects have tremendous importance in the film. I have not compromised with the background music, the effects or the computer graphics.
Calcutta Tube: Please tell us something about the casting of the film. Both the actors Swati and Manali are debutante. Is that not a big challenge?
Tapan Banerjee: It is actually not a challenge at all. It is a new trend in the Bengali films to have debut actors and is being quite accepted by the audience. I have more freedom when I work with newcomers. In ‘Rajdrohi’, most of the time, the actresses had to express certain things without even knowing the reasons behind their acting, as the person opposite to them was invisible. Then a lot of others things were put into those scenes into the labb. It was easier for me to bring out exactly what I needed from these freshmen without being asked a lot of questions. They did just as I told them to do. And when the filming and the computer works were put together, they were startled with the outcome. It was more than they have imagined.
Calcutta Tube: What are your future plans?
Tapan Banerjee: My next film is going to be a comedy based romantic movie. The story is again by my son Avik Banerjee and the script will be mine. Avik comes up with many new concepts. He has one more sci-fi story. However, a lot would depend on how the audience react to ‘Rajdrohi’. I will start shooting for the next film some time in December. I cannot tell the title of the film right now, since I have not signed any contract yet. I might again work with new talents. If the actresses of my current directorial venture are well-accepted by the audience, I may as well work with one of them. Working with established actors has not always been a very rewarding experience for me in the past.
Right now, all my hopes rest on Rajdrohi. All those who have seen the previews of the film have liked it. The promos of the film will be available in different channels from next week.
Interview and Write-up by Shrabanti Basu